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Updated: Industry design executive Lian Murray passes away

By Tiffany Montgomery
November 04, 2013 12:24 PM

Updated 5:50 p.m. with details about the memorial service

We have some very sad news to report today.

Well-known industry design executive Lian Murray, 54, passed away Sunday at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, Calif.

The cause of death was a severe asthma attack, according to her family.

Impressive resume

Lian most recently was the CEO and founder of Aqua VI, a clothing brand for men and women.

She was a founding partner and VP of Design and Merchandising for Hurley for many years, and led merchandising and design for Billabong when Bob Hurley had the U.S. license.

Lian’s first job in the industry was at Quiksilver, according to her family.

Bob Hurley on Lian's legacy

I reached out to Bob Hurley for some remembrances about Lian, and he sent me the following comments.

"I had the rare privilege of working in partnership with Lian Murray for 15 years," Bob said. "Lian had an incredible capacity to work both right brain and left brain at the highest levels. Her optimism, open mindedness, generosity and positivity were inspiring. 

"The products that she created were largely responsible for the success of Billabong USA throughout the 90s," Bob continued. "Lian always wanted to make people feel good about themselves and viewed the clothing she made as a part of that.  We used to always say, 'looking good, feeling good.'

"Lian was a founder and was instrumental in the formulation of the Hurley brand - its concepts, its values and its style. She was fearless in design, and in business. 

"Lian had great vision for the future," Bob said. "As far as I recall, she was one of the first to introduce low-rise pants for guys and girls, studs on garments, unfinished hems and was the inventor of the patented Velcro-less fly on boardshorts.  Lian was a genius at color and how it fits in the context of pop culture for the season.

"She was a huge fan of punk rock and a student of classical styling.  She created trends and avoided fads.  She loved dressing people, and she loved surfing and surfers. We used to call her style 'classics with a twist.'

"I was very lucky to work with her," Bob said. "We will miss her a ton."

Quiksilver Executive Chairman Bob McKnight

"This is so tragic, it has taken some time to get over it. This is a hurt that will never go away for many of us.

"Lian was a huge part of my life and certainly part of the heartbeat of Quiksilver in the early days. I can’t even remember how she came upon us, or how we found her? I think it might have been her wanting to hang around some of the surf team, or maybe it was she showed up at an early ASR tradeshow, made the rounds and dropped in on Quiksilver.

"All I remember is that she had a different, unique vibe about her that was not so Orange County. She was beautiful, passionate, funny and full of life and energy,  but she had this unique quality of perspective on the newly developing Action Sports culture. Back then and throughout her career and life, she has always understood youth culture - style, color, trend, function, fashion, fit, music, art, language. She always had that rare ability to foresee and make exactly what young people wanted and looked good in.

"We brought her into Quiksilver with no real background in fashion design, no big resume, not from Orange County and not any kind of name in our newly developing industry. She was brought in purely for her heart, passion and vision about product and the culture, and for her amazing personality, lust and appreciation for family, friends and life.

"I can’t remember how many years she worked for us at Quiksilver before she moved on, but surely she impacted all of us there with her amazing abilities, and she certainly shared all of the great, fun times at Quiksilver in the early days, that all of us cherish so much as we have gotten older.

"She forever has left her fingerprints on our brand, and we are certainly all better off for her handwriting on our products, and the memories of her wonderful passion for life. None of us who knew her, will ever forget her."

Scott Madison, senior product designer at Hurley

I met Lian when I was 19 working for Bob Hurley when we had the Billabong license for Billabong USA.  At this time I was the sample coordinator.  During this time, all of our production was done in Los Angeles.  She believed in me and wanted me to learn how to do CAD sketches and tech packs.  We would meet to go over what she wanted to make and I would help create the tech packs for each style. She was brilliant and would always think out side of the box and was so positive and created such a fun and creative work environment. 

"She treated all of us designers like family and was very generous.   She took the design team on many inspiration trips to places like San Francisco, New York, Paris, Japan, Amsterdam, England, Vancouver, and Hawaii.  She would always research before we went on an inspiration trip to find the best shopping areas and had the whole trip mapped out so we could be at the best stores and would always treat us to fun dinners as well. 

"I can't say enough good things about working for her.  She was the most positive person I have ever met and it was contagious.  She was extremely smart and understood the surf market like no other.  I was lucky enough to have her as my mentor, my friend and coworker.  I won't forget what impact she had on my career and many others that I have worked with at Billabong and Hurley can say the same about her. 

"She was one of a kind and held a special place in my heart.  I really owe everything to her.  I will never forget who helped me get started in this industry.  RIP Lian!! Love Spides!!"

Lian's family

Lian is survived by her daughters Taylor and Morgan Murray, her mother, Elyse Lewin, her brother, Jim Lewin, her stepfather, Lester Wertheimer, and step siblings Adam and Kim Wertheimer, and Peter and Janet Wertheimer.

Lian lived in Newport Beach and also had a home on Oahu’s North Shore.

 

 

Editor's note: We will update this story with comments from former colleagues as we receive them. You can also comment below.


 


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