A BYRON Bay designer has used her philanthropic label, environmental awareness and flare for design to make her mark in the Australian fashion industry.

After five years of working on her swimwear label Lisa Blue, Byron Bay resident Lisa Burke was able to showcase her work next to Australia’s top designers last week in Sydney at the prestigious Rosemount Australian Fashion Week.

The 40-year-old mother-of-two put on an impressive show of Aboriginal-inspired prints, feather headdresses and serene whale images in what she calls true ‘Byron Bay style’.

Ms Burke has managed to mix together her eye for design and advocacy for anti-whaling, after a trip to Tonga a few years ago inspired her label.

“Fashion week was wonderful,” she said. “Our show started with a movie clip of me swimming with a humpback whale in Tonga and it had a voiceover talking about the slaughtering of whales.

“Several years ago I went to Tonga to swim with the humpback whales and at one moment I had this close interaction with a mother humpback whale. It was that moment when I said I will do what I can to protect these animals.

“A few years later I was a keen surfer and I put the two together and got my swimwear label.”

Ms Burke donates 25 per cent of all her profits to the Australian Whale Conservation Society which lobbies local, State and Federal governments for the conservation and protection of cetaceans.

Ms Burke’s show at fashion week was made up of two ‘stories’ presenting a line of swimwear influenced by Aboriginal culture and another line inspired by the Renaissance.

All swimwear was paired with an extravagant tribal headdress from local label Buffalo Girl.

Coming into its third season, Lisa Blue is made from materials sourced from Italy and is designed based on inspirations from Ms Burke’s life experience.

As for outside inspiration, fashion week gave Ms Burke a chance to see what other Australian designers had in store, including Sydney-based label Romance Was Born, who she said she very much admired for putting on a show.

“I thought they look like they are from Byron Bay because they know how to put on a show,” she laughed.

“For me it’s more than just the bikinis. It is a show.”

With her first fashion week appearance conquered, and plans for a spot in Miami Fashion Week in America next month, Ms Burke is riding a wave of success, butadmits it has not been all smooth sailing.

“In a sense fashion week is the best exposure you can get in Australia,” she said.

“Next we are aiming to go to Miami. It would be so great to highlight the indigenous culture overseas.

“But it is a very difficult industry to break into. I was like a baby crossing a highway with everything crashing behind me. I was very ignorant.”



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