Lisa Mayock & Jeff Halmos, Designers, Monogram
The LSG x Monogram tee collab is finally here. After phone calls and email chains, going over mood boards and scrolling through pages of graphic t-shirt art, we settled on a design that would represent the best of both our companies and would be released as a limited edition graphic. The “Say Gah” phrase that is so unmistakable to LSG mixes perfectly with the vintage style that Monogram has perfected. We couldn’t be happier with the tee – new office uniform anyone?
You were both previously involved in clothing design through Vena Cava and Shipley & Halmos, brands you co-founded separately. What made you want to shift your focus to graphic tees and work together on this project?
Lisa: We actually actively tried NOT to work together on any kind of outside project. We're married and have two boys together and that felt like plenty. But, while working on a consulting project for another brand, I noticed a big gap in the market for thoughtful graphic t-shirts with great art. I love vintage graphic t-shirts, and have collected them forever, but the good ones have gotten both really expensive and a lot harder to find. I thought it would be great to make something that had the same magical quality that the best flea market gems do, and was pretty shocked to see that didn't seem to exist anywhere.
How did the idea for MONOGRAM surface?
Jeff: Pretty much the way Lisa described it. From there, we found ourselves out in LA meeting with various people who could help with production, from the fabric mill to the factory to the screen printer. Probably my favorite part was starting a running list of potential slogans to use for the graphics. It’s amazing how once you start looking for slogans, they come at you almost 24/7. That’s why it’s handy to have a running list.
You have said that a lot of your inspiration comes from your childhood and your father’s graphic tee collection. How has your style evolved and changed since then?
LISA: My style is not that dissimilar from when I was much younger- I've always loved and collected pieces that are conversation starters or are super special. My wardrobe has a very high percentage of floor length gowns and obscene t-shirts.
JEFF: I can attest to that! We were recently at the vintage fair and Lisa bought a floor length chainmail dress. If worn as is, she’d be completely naked. More appropriate for date night than cousin’s wedding.
How to you make designs both relatable to the public and in line with your desired aesthetic and vision?
LISA: I think that's the push and pull of being a designer of any kind. With MONOGRAM we sometimes make pieces that we know won't be best-sellers but we love the idea so much that we produce them anyway. Some of them have surprised us by being more successful than we anticipated. I think those designs are really important- they provide a context for the brand sensibility.
How have the cities you have lived and worked in influenced your design and aesthetic?
JEFF: We live and work in New York at the moment and love the fact that we can step outside our studio to be inspired by random people's personal style. It's like a never ending inspiration board in real life. New York is like no other city I've lived in in that way.
How has gender and sexuality played into your designs? What kind of statements are you trying to make?
LISA: The best things about a t-shirt are its unisex appeal and that it's the perfect vehicle for messaging. Right now we're marketing our t-shirts to women, though they've certainly been worn by men as well. The underlying message behind some of the graphics, however, is more specific. Some, like Casual Encounters or Au Naturel, are about owning your own sexuality. Others, like List, are about taking pride in what are stereotypically "negative" or "unfeminine" qualities. It's been a great creative challenge to create visual messaging that hits these themes in a subtle way.
Name the things you always have on you.
LISA: Nars Heatwave lipstick, vintage silver jewelry, a copy of The Week, and my 'Asshole' keychain.
JEFF: Headphones, my phone, and a picture of Lisa and our kids.
What’s your favorite way to wind down at the end of the day?
JEFF: During the summer, sitting out in our back yard with a cocktail. During the winter, sitting on our couch with a cocktail. Both are equally pleasurable!
You have no responsibilities: what are you spending the day doing?
LISA: Waking up and watching a movie in bed, a leisurely coffee, followed by a brisk stroll while listening to music on headphones. A long drive through a remote area that I've never been to before, hitting a flea market, going out for cocktails before dinner, in bed by 9 pm. I don't know if that day is even possible, but it's my dream scenario.
Tell us about the inspiration behind the LSG tee.
JEFF: The idea was to use the slogan "Say Gah" in a pared down way that felt a bit French New Wave.
Describe your favorite graphic tee.
LISA: Honestly, the best graphic t-shirts I've ever seen have slogans that are so crass they are unfit to print.
How do you style graphic tees for any situation: casual, work, black tie. Go!
Casual: cropped trousers or bermuda length shorts, a great vintage belt, and espadrilles.
Work: pencil skirt, bolero, and strappy flat sandals.
Black Tie: a graphic t-shirt under a Le Smoking- inspired suit with big earrings is one of my favorite looks! I also love a shrunken sweatshirt with a slouchy satin pant, minaudiere, and high heeled sandals.