Lizz Russell embraces a new fashion landscape while supporting a personal cause.
The last time we caught up with celebrity fashion designer Lizz Russell in 2018, the world, as we knew it, seemed normal. Remember those days when we would follow specific wardrobe rules for office attire and business meetings? Or, how about the times we’d get dressed up just to simply go sit in a restaurant, listen to good music, and share tapas with friends? Forget about comfort—for many of us, our attire was dictated by the occasion or season, and we wouldn’t think twice. As we approach a post-pandemic era, a lot has changed. Our new, uncertain circumstances seem to have redefined fashion rules and amid it all, Russell has developed her own formula for both glamorous and low-key fashionistas alike.
When everyone’s wardrobe shifted during the pandemic to a more comfortable, casual approach, so did the fashion at The Lizz Russell Collection What was once primarily a collection of custom evening wear and handbags, has transformed into a new line that Russell likes to call “sporty glam.” From sequin covered tunics that you can dress up or down depending on the occasion, to celebrity inspired scarves and her new athleisure line, Survivorlicious, Russell has incorporated both comfort and style into her latest designs. “Even if you’re going to the grocery store, you can still look fabulous,” she says.
The San Diego native had dreams of becoming a fashion designer from an early age. After studying fashion design at Mesa College in San Diego, her custom gowns caught the attention of celebrities in Hollywood and women across the country. Her resume includes working with actresses such as Jackée Harry and Tisha Campbell and at one point, selling her signature handbags in the MGM Grand, Bellagio and Mirage hotels in Las Vegas. Russell’s designs include pieces that can be worn in several different sizes.
Shifting Gears Due to the Pandemic
The pandemic changed the dynamics of everything for Russell’s business. Often inspired by engaging with her clients during in-person fashion shows, her interactions came to a halt when the pandemic began. “I couldn’t do my shows and be around people. I normally thrive on being out, doing my different shows,” she says.
But Russell’s creative spirit transformed a minor setback into an opportunity. While people weren’t meeting in person during the pandemic, they were connecting on digital platforms. Virtual business meetings became the norm and people were still showing up on camera with a professional appearance—at least on top. Along with her sporty glam collection, Russell’s solution included a line of 15 luxurious silk scarves that could be worn in a myriad of ways, reminding us that elegance and sophistication will never fade.
The scarves recently caught the attention of celebrity hairstylist Elgin Charles. After being introduced to the “Emperor of Hair” by a friend, Russell was asked to create a custom silk scarf for both Charles and his clients. Not only did she capture his vision, but the two are looking forward to a collaboration in the future.
Bringing Awareness to an Autoimmune Disease
Having established herself in the industry, Russell has a deeper and personal passion that she is able to advocate for through her work as a designer. During the midst of her career, Russell was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), an autoimmune disease that attacks the body’s nervous system and causes paralysis. She has since made a full recovery and has made it her life’s mission to provide support for other patients. “I advocate for patients to let them know they can come through this. That’s why this is very important to me. It’s my passion to be able to help them out,” she says.
In honor of GBS survivors, Russell created the athleisure clothing line, Survivorlicious. Sustainably sourced and made using earth-friendly materials, each piece is comfortable and functional, serving as a reminder that it takes tenacity, courage, and strength to give it your all every day. Russell has also organized Walk and Roll as part of a national GBS fundraising program that will help create awareness and rally community support around those living with GBS. The event will take place on October 8, 2022, in Coronado, California. Also in October, Russell will be doing a patient makeover at the GBS symposium in Ponte Vedra, Florida. “I feel like it’s part of their healing and recovery,” she says.
After two years of postponing live events, Russell is excited to present her latest collection back on the catwalk at her annual Cocktails and Couture fashion show in June. As she continues to build her fashion mecca, Russell reminds us that life’s challenges aren’t meant to serve as obstacles, but rather provide us with a bigger opportunity for growth.