60 Seconds with Ben De Lisi

Growing up was, for the most part a wonderful and loving experience.I am the eldest of three sons and come from a very close and nurturing Italian American Family; looking after each other is part of our DNA.

If I had to encapsulate my childhood, it would be: big meals, loud family holidays, in the evenings we would discuss what we had done that day, wrestling with my father and brothers on a Saturday night, cooking with my mother.

Ben as a child
Young Ben

I have the kind of parents that always said we could be whatever we wanted to be and get whatever we desired if we worked hard for it. Plus they never forced us to be something we couldn't; they always encouraged us in areas we excelled and inspired us.

And finally, they told me to never ever worry because there is always a bed at home.

I decided to be a designer when I started to make clothes for myself and became bombarded with requests from friends and family to make pieces for them as well. I was about 19 years old.

The first garment I designed was a rain slicker type blouson jacket in black metallic PVC, sounds perfectly awful but back in the late 1970s I sold loads of them.

I would describe my design style as blasé chic, quietly sexy, on the right side of being dangerous, effortlessly understated, pure, timeless, glamorous, polished.

The 1950s has always been a design period I am inspired by. Never overstated, always pure and chic, infinitely user friendly, also artists and sculptures like Picasso, Rothko, Ben Nicholson, Modigliani, Braque, Brancusi, Arp, Kandinsky inspire me.

The 50s

As a designer I can look at anything and be inspired, be it walking the dogs in Battersea park, at the MOMA in Manhattan, or on the beach in Greece. As long as I can see I can design so everywhere is my studio.

Generally I require total quiet when I design, but sometimes I relax and think about designing and listen to Latin music or oldies like Carol King, James Taylor, Carly Simon etc. to bring me back to a time that was far simpler.

Ben's dogs

As a single man without children my three dogs are my life, they always come first 100%. I adore them: Luca for his quiet, shy charm, Noah for his puppy-like sensitivity, and Te'a for her mischievous naughty inquisitive ways.

My perfect day would be waking up late having a great lunch with friends, a walk in the park with the "KIDS", dinner with someone special, and then falling asleep on the sofa with the dogs piled all around me.

I would never ever go back to any decade, despite the inspiration certain eras have on me.

I could never live without … my cashmere sweaters.

If I could design anything in the world, it would be a t-shirt impregnated with a magic potion that got rid of chest colds in minutes!

Life has taught me not to sweat the small stuff.

If I had to give advice to anyone it would be: Good people attract good people; Respect those who respect you back; Always keep a little back for yourself.