Lilian von Trapp,
Are our smartphones shortening our attention spans? Do dating apps teach us to turn potential partners into swipe-able objects? Does social media perpetuate an unobtainable beauty ideal? Science says yes. So do we. And so does Lilian von Trapp.
When we spoke to the Berlin-based jewelry designer, we could have spent hours more unpacking the rise of cosmetic procedures among teens, the refusal
of women to age naturally, the culture of comparison and perfection on social media. A lot of it came back to this: there’s so much distracting us at
every turn (and swipe) that it’s often easy to gloss over the issues affecting women today.
Once Lilian invited us into her palatial home, scattered with her striking designs, it was hard not to get sidetracked by the ordered grandeur of it all.
But look beyond the surface of her home, her undeniable beauty, the jewelry we’ve been eyeing off for months, and you’ll find a fearless woman willing to run headlong
into issues that make most squirm. Since launching her namesake ethical label little over a year ago, fashion has held her up as a trailblazer and a revolutionary,
working in a corner of the industry that has long been criticised for the exploitation of those in the developing world.
Where did her passionate nature and social conscience come from, we ask. The women in Lilian’s life, especially her late mother, played a vital role in shaping not only her ambition but her unwavering
desire to live and design with purpose. From inheriting precious heirlooms from her family’s matriarchs, “it seemed so logical to recycle the jewelry instead
of locking it away in a safe. I then began designing and upcycling myself; drawing the first sketches and finding a goldsmith to recreate them from the pieces I
wanted to create anew.”
From there, she found herself going deeper into the inner-workings of the gold industry which, she tells us, is just as bad as that
of the diamond trade. She knew she had to do something differently. Designing her collections quite literally became a matter of life or death. And because
Lilian never does things by halves, she jumped on a plane, rolled up her sleeves, and launched a Ugandan permaculture project in partnership with Earthbeat Foundation.
From death to business, ethically-made jewelry to permaculture…we’ve already unpacked a helluva lot, right? Wait until you read the intimate, moving, and at times
existential insights, from a woman you can’t help but admire.
The Ultimate Fix For Combination Skin:
“Since I have combination skin, I tend to get impurities from time to time. I’m not a fan of chemicals on my skin so I have tried many things. What works best for me is propolis – the stuff bees use to build their hives – and it’s a natural antibiotic. Because it’s dissolved in alcohol, I have to be careful because it’s a little aggressive but I still wear by it. I also have a remedy from Malin & Goetz infused with sulfur to fight against impurities.”
On Dealing with Loss:
“My mother got cancer when I was eight years old and she died when I was 25. It’s made me realise that the only important thing in life is being healthy and enjoying the moment. You don’t know at what time, or at what point, it might all end. It just doesn’t make sense to stress yourself with things you can’t change. It should be more about accepting what is, and accepting yourself’ embracing the things you love and the things you don’t love as well.”
“I learned so many things [from my mother]. Most of all I admired and tried to take on her kindness and sympathy, empathy, love. I think it’s essential for young girls and young women to have role models to show them that self-love.”
“Most of the time you’ll see me in jeans and t-shirt. I just love to be comfortable, because it makes me feel and look my best. I sometimes add a vintage blazer from YSL and accessorise with my own jewellery, a vintage bag and sling backs. A friend gave me a pair of The Row sunglasses recently and they have the perfect size for my face. They complete my look perfectly and I will probably wear them forever”.
On Her Beauty Routine:
“My routine is pretty much the same in the evenings, the only difference is that I use a proper night cream for my face, neck and décolletage on top my serum.
For this I love to use Oceanwell products, they are organic algae-based and you feel well and fresh in the morning when you wake up.”
“I am a perfectionist and workaholic so it’s not very easy for someone like me to take care of myself. I use a proper mask every other day and putting it on forces
me to sit still for a moment – mostly because I can’t move or do anything with it on! It refreshes me, my energy gets kicks back in and afterward I feel so much
better and powered-up for work.”
“Due to lack of time, my beauty routine has to be efficient. I begin by washing my face thoroughly, using cleansing foam and a little charcoal sponge. Next,
I apply a tonic from Dr. Hauschka (it has remained in my arsenal since my mother gave it to me at 12 years old),followed by the hyaluronic serum by Dr. Barbara Sturm.”
“On weekends, if I don’t go out and don’t have to wear any makeup, I slather a thick layer of face cream on top. Finally, I’ll apply Ibuki eye cream from
Shiseido – it’s really over-priced, but it’s not greasy and really does help with dark circles. At night,
I like to use the Oceanwell night cream. They are organic and algae-based and I always feel like my skin is much fresher when I wake up.”
“I love the MAGICSTRIPES masks, because they are so versatile. I use the hyaluronic mask when I feel tired and need that extra kick of hydration.
The detox mask I like to use after a long night out or when I’ve had drinks the night before. They really help and most importantly they make my skin feel incredible.”
“Apart from my masking ritual I try to take a deep breath every hour and just feel the air. Oh, and tea. Making and drinking tea really calms my nerves.”
Beauty Secret or Foot Fetish:
“I try to detox as much as possible. Once a week I sleep with socks and detox teabags on my feet. Not sure if it helps but I it makes me feel much better after a night out.”
Protecting Your Skin From On-Screen UV:
“During the day I use Dr. Barbara Sturm UV drops. Because I sit in front of my phone or computer a lot, it’s just as important to guard myself against technical UV as from the sun. The drops are great, you can easily put them on any skin cream or even make up.”
“Always use sunscreen. This isn’t really a secret, but it’s true. I have always avoided direct sunlight as much as I could or applied proper sun protection and although I’m turning 31,
my skin has remained almost wrinkle-free.”
“I’m obsessed with Lancaster Sun Cream. It’s actually the same one my grandmother always used on me as a child. The best memories from my childhood were with my grandmother – visiting her, being with her on holidays, and we were always using this sun cream. The smell of it takes me back to those times and creates a kind of continuity – a legacy – just like the jewelry she gave me!”
“I exercise 3-4 times a week. If I don’t exercise I really have to watch what I eat – since I love eating, I exercise! It also helps me regain energy after a long day
sitting over my laptop.”
“I mostly do Pilates combined with Yoga and a little bit of cardio. I am a lazy sports person, so it doesn’t come to super easy. I grew up playing all sorts of sports but during the week there is not much time left for anything other than plain exercise. On summer weekends I try to play tennis as much as I can. That’s where I have the most fun. I also love slimming. It’s so funny, in my twenties I never liked it, but I recently rediscovered swimming and nowadays there is nothing I love more than being in a lake or the sea, feeling the water, seeing the sky. It’s so calming and just feels so good on my body.”
“When I was younger I couldn’t really enjoy my body. I had a boyfriend who always criticized me and made me feel bad about myself. To overcome that negative self-image took some time, so today I just love myself the way I am. Nobody’s perfect and I try to focus on the things I love the most about myself. Nobody needs to look like a supermodel to be loved unconditionally.”
On Turning 30:
“It’s funny because for the first time in my life I feel good and comfortable and accepting and thankful for everything I have.
I feel more comfortable and less self-conscious than ever before. For how I look, for how I feel, for what I’m doing.
I’m really just happy with how I am and who I am.”
It’s funny because, of course, you can see the first lines or whatever on your face but I don’t really feel it and I don’t really care. In a way, maybe that’s what every woman does at some point. Believe me, it is something to look forward to!”
On Social Media:
“So…social media [laughs]. Think of all of these models getting plastic surgery at eighteen or so. It sets a dangerous standard for the young girls and women that follow them, that believe they then have to look like this. As you get older you realise that it’s not real.”
“I always knew I was going to have my own business someday. I was raised by a working mom, who was such a great role model and taught me to be an independent
and self-reliant woman. When she passed away I decided that life’s too short to do something you are not passionate about. So I just did it.
I quit my job and founded the company. I didn’t really think about the consequences and in retrospect,
I may have been a little naive. But my decision turned out to be just right.”
[If you’re thinking about starting your own business] “Just do it. I believe overthinking things can destroy any business plan. The motto ‘no risk, no fun’ will help you in getting started.”
“For my business, I made the decision to not use any plastics from the very beginning. No plastic, whatsoever. I really believe this is something that every brand should try at least to do to some extent – especially weeding out all non-recyclable.”
On Aluminium-free Deodorant:
“I was on an virtual odyssey to find a good aluminum-free deodorant and had tried literally 15 until my favorite cosmetics shop, MDC here in Berlin, told me about the Malin & Goetz brand and it really works! It’s the first one I discovered that does the job and it also has a nice mint and eucalyptus scent.”
The Life-Changing Chop:
“I used to have very long hair, down to my waist, and keeping it in good shape was so much work. Deciding to cut it to shoulder length really changed my life. I don’t usually comb it anymore and except in winters, I always let it air dry during the day.”
“For hair products I love Davines. My hairdresser introduced me to the brand and it’s amazing! After just one wash my hair smells so fresh and nice, no hair parfume needed! And the scent stays on. I also love their hair spray. Never liked hairspray because it’s too artificial, but theirs is so light and again the scent is so yummy!”
“I also use a leave-in conditioner by Iles formula. You can easily spray it on and apply it to the tips. I only bought that one for the scent, so again, I am obsessed with nice smelling hair. There is nothing more beautiful then hugging someone and getting just a hint of beautiful scent as their hair moves. If I want beach waves, I use Rahua. Another secret from my favourite store MDC here in Berlin.
“It’s amazing how smells can recreate situations and lead you to remember things so vividly. I have this energising spray that my mother used. And after she died, I couldn’t bring myself to go near it because when I just came across it I would burst into tears. Though recently, I took a huge leap and bought it myself and I now use it when I want to feel close to my mother.”
Most treasured item of clothing:
“That would be my grandmothers old Chanel jacket. A couple of years ago somebody broke into our apartment and almost everything was taken. Thank god I had this with me at the time and still have it today. There’s also a scarf that my mother knitted. When I feel sick or sad I am wearing it and I feel closer to her.”
On the major influences that have shaped her as a person:
“I can’t really think of a certain number of things, it was more life in general by the side of the the person I loved most and seeing her suffer and die that shaped me.
Overcoming my grief and those feelings of injustice and anger made me to the person I am today.. Today I’m mostly thankful. Thankful for me being me. For my health. For my beauty, for my life. So when things go down or something doesn’t go like I want it to go, I always try to remember, that I have everything in this moment. I have myself.”
Female Role Models:
“I can’t really point out one woman, because I think you can’t really find everything in one person. It’s rather a variety of characteristics I admire in women: independence and success, emotional empathy and femininity.”
On her definition of femininity:
“Strength, which includes the strength to reveal weakness.”
Advice to her younger self:
“Trust the process. Everything you can imagine is true. Live in the now.”
“Don’t put so much pressure on how you look or how you’re supposed to look. Focus on the things that bring you peace. Learn to come to terms with the fact – and it is a fact – that you can’t expect perfection from those around you. You’re not perfect yourself and that’s totally fine. Just enjoy the process of becoming.”