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Cracow Fashion Week keeps on evolving and renewing itself

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Special Review & Interview by Agata Mayer, Editor-in-chief

After 20 years of experience the Cracow School of Art and Fashion Design (SAPU) has achieved a high standard and an excellent reputation in the fashion industry, locally and overseas. As the only private fashion school in Poland, SAPU has received the Honorary Golden Thread – a prestigious award for distinguished individuals and institutions in fashion. Its graduates work in top fashion houses, for such icons as Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, John Galliano or Claude Bonucci. Thanks to SAPU’s diploma show and an intensive promotion of its graduates, the City of Cracow was in 2013 described as one of the world’s fashion capitals ranked higher than Moscow, Frankfurt, Vienna, Miami, San Francisco and Rio de Janeiro. The Diploma Show Cracow Fashion Awards takes place in late March, where the best collections, as the highlight of the school’s academic year are presented. The show is always attended by many distinguished guests, international experts, industry representatives, gallery owners and media. And it is just a small part of the Cracow Fashion Week – a huge, artistic event jam-packed with diverse workshops, lectures, fashion shows and exhibitions of graduates’ paintings, drawings, photography and jewelry works.

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Agata Mayer (Fashion Culture Magazine) amongst the international Jury. Photo by Tytus Kondracki

As fashion expert and one of the main partners, Fashion Culture had the pleasure to sit in the Jury with international guests to judge highlighted collections from Poland for picking winners in each category. 2 days of competition, 38 applicants, 14 wisely selected collections classified to the Cracow Fashion Awards and in the end just a few winners. Hardly sharing views on whose collection is the best, Fashion Culture decided to grant a private award to the collection that explored rhythm and lines – Laura Slepowronska caught our attention.

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INTERVIEW

There was nothing new. Nothing that swept me off my feet. Out of habit I was looking for something out of the assembly line, something that doesn’t follow the rules and undergo the collective judgment. I was looking for a collection that would be addressed to the 21st-century fashion explorers. Instead, I saw the copy-paste phenomenon, trashed styling, vain attempts of experiments, empty promises. While waiting for any kind of new ideas, I noticed only one outstanding collection. By challenging current codes and by combining contrast, deriving inspiration straight from the 1950s, Laura Slepowronska proved that she is able to create something authentic, that will protect us from the pre-packed shapes, we are constantly pushed into.  Playing with different shades of black and pastel blue, Laura brought out the youthful femininity characteristic for the 1950s and showed it on the catwalk during the Cracow Fashion Week 2015. Her bell-shaped silky skirts and hand knitted cashmere sweaters with three-quarter sleeves caught my attention. Each look reminded me of the neat, versatile and chic shirtwaist dress popular in the 1950s as the ‘ultimate uniform’ of US women.
I met up with the talented Laura right after the Cracow Fashion Awards to grant her our magazine’s award and talk about the ‘ÉCLAIR’ collection. Afterwards, she mentioned it was her runway début .

Agata Mayer: What was your motivation and idea behind the ÉCLAIR collection?

Laura Ślepowrońska: Fashion needs to be aesthetic, appropriate and useful. That is why I focused so much on proportion and good quality fabrics. I wanted to create a ready-to-wear collection inspired by women from the 50′s. I wanted it to be feminine and delicate, but also outstanding by using diverse fabrics like leather, jacquard, lustrous nickel, seagrass and mohair yarn (a silk-like fabric).

A.M. What was the biggest challenge while creating?

L.Ś. To be careful not loosing myself in making up theories and unnecessary philosophy around my own concept. To remember that it is an universal, timeless and well-designed product. It is always a big challenge to create compatible pieces and at the same time so diverse. It is too easy to follow existing patterns, so I truly recommend to get out sometimes and clear your mind focuing on something completely different.

A.M. Just mentioning, you had your show at Cracow Fashion Week / Cracow Fashion Awards this spring. How did you like it?

L.Ś. Oh, I will remember this year’s Fashion Week for a long time. It was such an important day for me. The show lasted just a few minutes but the feeling seemed eternal! For me it was a shot of adrenaline that allowed me to be in two or even more places at the same time. It also forced me to stay focused. There was no place for panic anymore! I must say, it was – and will be – a really addictive feeling. Definitely worth waiting for this moment!

A.M. What were the biggest challenges preparing the show?

L.Ś. Time, or rather the lack of it, is the biggest objective. You have to be really focused and self-disciplined to make it all work. Suddenly everything depends on you and the decisions you make. All details need to be worked out and really precise. You should concentrate on details and overall look at the same time. It is really challenging.

A.M. How did you feel when the show was over? You received a lot of positive feedbacks – didn’t you?

L.Ś. Physically I was really tired but it was a good feeling. I was thunderstruck when I realized how many people appreciated my work. I got such a positive feedback receiving so many awards. I knew I was heading in the right direction. To release the tension after the show I went out for a party with all my closest friends. It was an amazing night!

A.M. Looking back, how and when did your passion for fashion design begin?

L.Ś. In our home everybody likes to dress up. We have always taken great care of our looks. We give each other advices and talk about this a lot. When I was a little kid, my mom taught me how to distinguish the best and the most precious materials. She loves silk, cashmere cotton and linen – all natural and high-quality, never synthetics. She taught me how to love all that too. I have always been thinking about fashion, so one day I have just decided to start sketching, painting and sewing. Finally I started designing my own things at Cracow School of Art and Fashion Design.

A.M. Has Cracow influenced your collection? If so, in what way?

L.Ś. I have been living here for three years now and I have to say that I really like this city. There are some places that stimulate creativity a lot and they are always far away from home. The best ideas always come during my travels.

A.M. What does the future look like for you after graduating from KSA?

L.Ś. I am planning to start working on my second collection soon and to show the final result during the Fashion Week, next year. For sure I would like to paint and to draw more. Also a few trips already planned, so to be honest I can’t wait to get a new boost of inspirations and motivations and to see where it will take me.

A.M. Thank you.

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Photographer: Gabriela Bazan

Model: Katarzyna Kmiotek

Make up: Agata Pikulska

Designer: Laura Slepowronska

Assistance: Ewa Manka

Take a quick look at other highlighted collections. Enjoy!

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Anna Pietrowicz

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Waleria Tokarzewska

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Anna Tronowska
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Joanna Organisciak-Plachta

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Magdalena Orzel

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Katarzyna Haratym

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Paulina Fiuk

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Monika Wierzchowska

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Marta Kapala

 

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Scandinavian Minimalism

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 Interview by Agata Mayer, Editor-in-chief

Since 1950s Scandinavian style has been associated with highly functional design inspired by nature and the northern climate. In Sweden this ‘Modernistic Spirit’ is called funkis and it transformed into what we today know as Scandinavian Minimalism with all its clean, beautiful, uncluttered, minimal elements and simple lines.
I caught up with Annaleena Leino Karlsson – a Swedish designer and interior stylist – and asked a few questions about her understanding of minimalism, proportion and her passion.

Agata Mayer: Why Minimalism?

Annaleena L. Karlsson: I didn’t really plan to create minimalistic design, I just happened to fall for simplicity and explicitness.

A.M. You work with exciting materials. Can you explain your working process? Are your designs developed in the process or do you prepare yourself by making a lot of sketches and technical drawings?

A.L.K. My design is developed in processes. Often I choose the material first, and then comes the shape. I usually sketch a rough outline, but the design is mostly developed gradually through samples.

A.M. How is it to experiment in the matter of minimalism. Is it just simplifying?

A.L.K.Minimalism isn’t simple, really. You need to find a balance and a distinctiveness, which takes courage.

A.M. Do you have any favorite materials to work with?

A.L.K. I prefer raw, genuine materials. Steel is a favorite. Stone as well.

A.M. Can you explain what good design is, through the objects placed in your studio / apartment?

A.L.K. I believe an object should highlight the character of the room. Bringing beauty to the room, adding a little extra to it – like a pair of shoes that makes the outfit even better.

A.M. What fuels you when you are developing something?

A.L.K. Innovative ideas. Usually shapes. Explicitness. Things that awakens something within me.

A.M.  Is there a project that you are particularly proud of?

A.L.K. It’s hard to pick one. But I love projects where I’ve been asked to design a custom-made product for a customer and the result is appreciated. Like when I designed a counter for a photographers studio.

A.M. You also work as a Set Designer. What qualities does a person need to have nowadays, to become a successful Set Designer?

A.L.K. You need to stick out, to dare. And you need to be socially competent. Often you work in different teams, and it is preferable if you like to cooperate…

A.M. What defines a beautiful piece of furniture in your opinion?

A.L.K.  It must have personality, character. A simplistic shape, and be made of natural material – for example stone or wood.

A.M. How do you live personally? How important is furniture in your own home?

A.L.K. It is really important. I don’t own especially many design classics, but I choose carefully every object that gets over my doorstep.

A.M. Have you ever thought about entering into the fashion branch and start working with recognized fashion photographers and clothing brands?

A.L.K. I’m not planning to, but I wouldn’t say no to it. I enjoy different projects. And I also believe that interior design and fashion aren’t far from each other. It wouldn’t be foreign to mix the two of them, but rather exciting.

A.M. Are there any designers that influence you more than others?

A.L.K. Absolutely. Faye Toogood from UK, as well as a bunch of Japanese designers. And I also love Finish design.

A.M. What do you like to do besides designing?

A.L.K. I like to photograph, and to style. To combine these three things are my favorite.

A.M. Thank you.

 

 

Below a sneak peek of Annaleena’s living.

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All pictures are shot and styled by Annaleena.

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Mayla’s show was a highlight of Fashion Week In Stockholm

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Special Review by Agata Mayer, Editor-in-chief

Recently, I am intrigued by Mayla’s progress into women’s collection. Marlene Abraham has done an excellent job reanimating the ’60s feeling, doing it in a modern way. I am delighted to see that the mid ’60s and the early ’70s trend we saw this Spring and Summer is continuing through to next season. Mayla is a contemporary ready-to-wear brand dedicated to the beautiful women and style setters of the time. Originally known for luxuriously crafted silk dresses, the popularity of Mayla has allowed the brand to quickly expand into outerwear, knitwear, shoes and accessories. It’s the French luxury combined with Scandinavian simplicity that has found a loyal clientel from around the world including Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.

Agata Mayer: Marlene, looking at your previous collections I get the impression that you were inspired by the most important moments, styles and epochs in fashion history. Your newest collection for Autumn / Winter 2015 again refers to such a point – when for the first time in fashion history youth subcultures openly rebelled against wearing the same clothes as their parents, demanding their own unique identity. What sparked your interest in the Hippie Deluxe era?

Marlene Abraham: I’ve always found this period fascinating, and it’s a source of inspiration that I keep going back to, for music, art and fashion. People explored their creativity were openminded to different lifestyles and it reflected their personal style.

A.M. It was a time of preppy clothing, modern simplicity and “back to the nature” lifestyle underlined by floral and geometric prints, patchworked diverse fabrics, contrasting scales and colors. How would you describe this collection? Any focal points to which we should draw our attention?

M.A. I chose to mix the preppy proper from the mid sixties with the more bohemian feminity of the later part of the decade. I wanted to balance the two styles together. Key items for the collection is the bouclé dungarees, a gun printed layered silk dress and the tight polo neck sweaters.

A.M. Are there any plans to do a men’s collection?

M.A. No.

A.M. Mayla, the brand which you stand behind as a founder and designer, has grown since 2010. How is it received internationally?

M.A. We have a small but loyal following all over the world, especially in Japan. We just recently started to focus on the UK market.

A.M. As a ‘Stockholmare’, how have you perceived the evolution of fashion in recent years and how would you define the contemporary flux of this city?

M.A. Stockholm has changed a lot in the last 10 years and we have seen a few brands strong internationally as well as the Swedish music industry. There’s a kind of creative fashion, music and design movement going on, which is a great growing ground for new brands.

A.M. How much does travel influence your designs?

M.A. I’ve always travelled a lot, so it definitely influences me. I love going to places like London and New York.

A.M. How would you describe your personal style of clothing?

M.A. I’m not an eccentric person, so “show stoppers” are not for me. I would describe my style as feminine with an edge. I like quirky prints and dressing down exclusive pieces. For me it’s all in the mix. Materials and craftsman ship is important.

A.M. What has been the biggest highlight in your career so far?

M.A. I think it’s a mix of different things. I’m happy to been able to open two concept stores within the five years since I started and the fact that we got into the Japanese market almost immediately. Our crown princess has been a loyal supporter since the start of the brand.

A.M. What’s next for you professionally?

M.A. Right now I’m looking to grow the company and my main target is the UK, Scandinavia and Japan.

A.M. Thank you.
Sharp lines and monochromatic meet sheer silks in graphic prints. Glossy leather flat shoes in black. More dimensional dressing with tone down layers of knit. It’s been also exciting to see denim dungarees and culottes:

See some of my favorite pieces from Mayla’s SS 15 and AW15 Collectionagata-mayer-mayla-3agata-mayer-mayla-4agata-mayer-mayla-1
agata-mayer-mayla-2agata-mayer-marlene-abraham-3Agata Mayer (on the left) interviews Marlene Abraham (on the right)

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Fashion is about more than just pretty heels

agata-mayerArticle and design by Agata Mayer, Editor-in-chief

2014, Washington D.C., The White House – First Lady Michelle Obama brought some of the biggest names in fashion to celebrate their talent during the cocktail party, which was totally off the grid. The main purpose of this event was to bring members of the fashion industry, such as designers, industry insiders and publicists and enlighten, educate and mentor the next generation of fashion leaders. It should be noted at this point that Americans spend over $350 billion a year on clothing and accessories, and there are plenty of jobs to be had, with 1.4 million Americans employed in fashion and retail. Well, the fashion industry had always a major impact on the economy.

2014, London, The White House – The Duke John Zylinski hosted a major fashion blowout for an army of designers to celebrate their talent on the catwalk and during the garden cocktail party.  It’s common knowledge that becoming an esteemed fashion designer is not the kind of thing that happens overnight or even to every eager and passionate college design major. But the Duke had some sound advice for the young designers who were invited to his palace. He was discussing with the students the glamorous and un-glamorous sides of the fashion industry. It has to be added that £6.2 billion has been spent across the UK over the last five years on impulse-buys such as clothing and accessories and the average British woman will spend £500,000 on fashion over a lifetime, in accordance to Daily Mail.

Did you detect a slight similarity between them? Of course you did!

ALL ROADS LEAD TO EALING!

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The Duke, John Zylinsky at his palace

The concept of fashion education workshops and events has been on the table since at least a few years. Both sides spent many months planning and researching their new business ideas, but the British side spent even more time. The Duke wouldn’t have done this without Katarzyna Kwiatkowska – Działak, the CEO of Fashion Culture Project and a very dear friend to the fashion world.
One day, 3 years ago they just met and decided to work together, after considering fashion as a business and an art. They thought that thanks to its global nature and role in pop culture, fashion will be seen as a useful symbol for national creativity. They weren’t wrong!

The descendants of many aristocratic families still support the national culture, tradition and education or they perform an important function in politics. It’s also generally known, that the aristocratic families took care of their image. They adopted prevailing trends coming from other courts and even countries, or they just simply determined their own styles. I know that John is passionate about the 18th century. It was a specific period, when various historians consider the industrialization of society to be the starting point of fashion. Time, when changes in dress ceased to be the prerogative of small elites and became adopted by the majority of urban people in western Europe. For instance, women’s fashion was dominated by Paris, while men’s fashion was set by London. But in John’s line it looked completely different. The Duke was raised by his grandmother who charmed him with the magic of pre-war manners and elegance. It speaks for itself. He was the first person in his lineage interested in ‘fashion’. His family house has a huge history. It was a place for the whole exile elite. John’s grandmother was a person to whom he promised that he would rebuild the family palace, which on numerous occasions transform into a place promoting broadly understood Art. I know that not only fashion is close to his heart, but also Ballet and enterprising women…such as Katarzyna Kwiatkowska-Działak. But more about that, later.
Born in Ealing, West London, the Duke John Zylinski has been supporting fashion initiatives continuously since many years. Every year he opens the gates of his residence ‘The White House’ for the Fashion Culture Show and brings together promising designers. The main objective is to establish and strengthen contacts between European countries, to promote promising talents and to provide them with a wider audience.

katarzyna-kwiatkowska-jan-zylinski-by-piotr-apolinarskiThe Duke John Zylinsky & Katarzyna Kwiatkowska-Działak at the White House, London
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I was wondering how it feels to be an aristocrat in today’s era of the perdition of moral values and ethics, in comparison to John’s childhood, therefore I caught a flight to London to meet the Duke in person. Unfortunately, questions concerning his family tree or how he sees symbols associated with tradition, honor, bravery and the bonds of brotherhood nowadays, in hands of fashion designers as an act of performance and their own statement “in a multibillion-dollar global industry” have to wait.
John threw himself into work and couldn’t participate in the meeting. Instead of that, I met Katarzyna Kwiatkowska – Działak in John’s private residence, lovingly designed and built by him. The whole property is breathtakingly beautiful, and not surprisingly, the neoclassical Louis XVI house had been used by TV crews and high profile clients including Victoria Beckham, Britney Spears, Leona Lewis, Kelly Rowland, Rihanna, Lady Gaga; world-famous designers such as Christian Dior or Roberto Cavalli; magazines such as Vogue, GQ, Guardian, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair, Korean Elle for their fashion photo shoots.

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Katarzyna Kwiatkowska-Działak – a real Lady of a thousand faces and passions told me everything about their collaboration, difficult beginnings, bad and good sides of being in this branch and about the concept that stands behind the Fashion Culture Project. She was born and brought up in Warsaw, Poland where she graduated in Journalism and PR. After over fifteen years of assisting, organizing and directing many fashion shows, events and live concerts, in 2008 she decided to move to London, where now she supports talented fashion designers from the most prestigious European fashion schools. She proved that people who think that the fashion industry is all about catwalks, red carpets and who wore it best, are wrong. Garments that we see in the magazines as a finished product, required a very long and complicated process that is based not only on passion and creativity, but also on specific knowledge. Her project was described by many international and influential specialist periodicals as “the must-to-visit place on the map of Europe”.
“Fashion is really about passion and creativity, just like music or dance or poetry” – claimed Katarzyna. When I asked her what Fashion Culture is, she answered immediately: “Promotion art through fashion and fashion through art“. What can be more simple?
At the beginning it was a bridge between international fashion colleges in both Poland and the UK. But now the project is in its fourth season drawing in people from the world of culture, visual arts, fashion and photography.  After due consideration she added: “Fashion can be a powerful instrument for social change. It allows us to think about who we are as individuals and as a society”. The designers who participate first in the contest, then in the show represent a wide spectrum — from mass brands to high-end glamour to the more intellectual.
“Every season one pearl is discovered by our jury. Last year we represented Erïk Bjerkesjö, Swedish designer who was awarded by Cracow School of Art and Fashion Design and got an invitation for Cracow Fashion week organized in March 2015 in Poland. This outstanding artist has received many honors & awards globally” – said Katarzyna.

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The 4th EDITION OF FASHION CULTURE PROJECT IN LONDON KNOCKS AT OUR DOOR!

Kwiatkowska – Działak, a master of both high and low sartorial styles, will be hosting the 4th edition of Fashion Culture Project at the White House palace this September. She is going to transform the White House into a venue again for an elite judging panel for selected outstanding students from University of the Arts – London College of Fashion and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (UK); Polimoda (Italy); Flanders Fashion Institute (Belgium); ESMOD (Germany), ASP (Poland); Beckmans Designhögskola (Sweden); The Cracov Schools of Art and Fashion Design group – SAPU Fashion Design Department (Poland) and for many influential representatives from the wide circles of art, culture and diplomacy.
Dear reader! Save the date and see you in London!

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Interview with Lucia Kelly

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Interview by Joanna Pietrzyk, Editor for International Cooperation at Fashion Culture Project

Drawn to contours and outlines that celebrate the female form, Lucia’s designs are constantly evolving as she strives finds ways of creating new shapes that will enhance how a woman feels and help her to dress in a way that inspires confidence – indeed, her ultimate aim for her designs is to seduce the observer and empower the wearer.

Joanna Pietrzyk: What made you decide on Fashion?

Lucia Kelly: I was brought up in a family of four brothers so being the only girl, I think I always looked to find something to be able to be more girly at the time and occupy myself, and having always enjoyed to drawing and the arts, I was lucky to find my escape through fashion and designing clothes that I couldn’t have or clothes that I would of liked.

J.P. In few words your experience at LCF

L.K. I met a girl today who was a part of UAL, her experience was being built up to be broken down and unfortunately I have found this opinion in a few people who have studied within the UAL, but I think as a university it states its very independent learning, so I feel like what she said was one side, I feel that LCF has great creative direction and if you can put the work in and commit to what you love, whilst staying true to yourself and your work its a great course to do your thing.

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J.P. How did your final project with Inthira came about?

L.K. Rob Phillips the creative director of LCF, saw mine and Inthira’s work, her prints were very similar to my illustrations, my first collection was very graphic and minimal, but organically taking that the idea was to destroy the original idea (which you can see in the black and white image), using similar silhouettes and keeping the concept of hearts, love and heartbreak, which helped create the prints, still keeping the graphics but in an even more abstract destructive approach.

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J.P. Your dream collaboration in future?

L.K. In the future, in a ideal world I could collaborate with anyone, I really like Versace so I would love to be able to do something for the Versus collection.

J.P. What are you listening/reading at the moment?

L.K. I just finished reading The Power which is a follow on from The Secret, I like reading light books about anything uplifting, as I am more into visual books, visual books I have been looking into Femme Fatale and Man Ray. My taste in music is really eclectic, so I regularly listen to Kate Bush, I’ve also been listening to a lot of NAS old music.

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Interview with Ricard Wahl

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Source: Ricard Wahl

Interview by Joanna Pietrzyk, Editor for International Cooperation at Fashion Culture Project

Joanna Pietrzyk: What is your background and how fashion design became your major subject of interest?

Ricard Wahl: Fashion has always been a very important way of expressing myself. At first, when I was little, it was just a natural part of my childhood games – always drawing and sewing, making up characters and stories. I didn’t realize that I wanted to be a designer at first, just doing what I enjoyed and sort of inventing this other world in which I could escape to. Later, when I was a teenager I found a sort of replacement for that in the world of fashion. And of course I have always been influenced, inspired and felt encouraged by the fact that my family once was in the clothing industry – they had a brand that focused on women’s ready to wear. Even though it didn’t exist during my lifetime, I have lately realized that it has had a deeper effect on me than I first thought.

J.P. What were the inspirations behind your graduate collection?rikard_wahl

R.W. In my thesis I researched my family’s old clothing label named Wahls, and was inspired by their aesthetics and design philosophy in my own design process. Wahls manufactured sophisticated yet functional and comfortable clothes for the wardrobe of an active woman, with classic pieces that could last over several seasons. But it also had an edge of quirkiness to it, with daring color combinations and bold prints. I wanted to reinterpret the labels most prominent features such as timelessness, simplicity and classical elegance combined with a large dose of playfulness and humor, but with relevance for todays fashion scene. I also wanted to experiment with the more visual and tactile elements by reinterpreting their methods associated with ready-made clothing, in a more hand crafted manner. Garments in tailored jersey, silk and wool framed with metallic foil prints meets hand painted motifs that are both free flowing and graphically distinct.

J.P. Are you working on anything new at the moment? Any interesting collaborations we might see you being involved in soon?

R.W. Besides working on my own profile – such as photographing my collections and working on a website – I’m doing some smaller design projects. I am currently working on a print design project, which hopefully will result in new discoveries within that field. I got a Scholarship that gives access to an amazing print studio here in Stockholm, where I will be screen printing by hand.

J.P. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

R.W. I see myself working within fashion in a way that makes me happy and that enables me to be true to my visions and still meet new challenges, whether I’m designing in my own name or in someone else’s.

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Source: Ricard Wahl – Beckmans College of Design

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The Tradition of the New

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Source: Marco Ciabatti

Interview by Joanna Pietrzyk, Editor for International Cooperation at Fashion Culture Project

Marco Ciabatti will take a part in the 4th Edition of Fashion Culture Project representing Polimoda. In this short interview he is guiding us through inspirations and process of making his final collection.

Joanna Pietrzyk: What was the concept behind your graduate collection?

Marco Ciabatti: In terms of work craftsmanship plays a big part in the way I create my collections.
During my free time I like to go to flee markets, I also enjoy going to the museums and galleries for inspirations.
My Italian background is fairly important in my work process.
In my graduate collection, I applied variety of elements: starting from the Ex Voto pins on the breast, to the religious details, from tailoring technique to the main fabric (wool) that I used: Casentino fabric. This fabric is made in the city where my mother and her family come from – Stia. There is continuity to sewing tradition in our family; my grandmother was working in the factory where she was repairing faulty pieces of the fabric. Production was taking much longer and it was far more expensive back then, so at the time they weren’t allowed to waste even an inch of fabric that definitely could teach us appreciation for the work and effort of everyone involved in the production process.

J.P. What are your key inspirations, fashion icons etc. is there anyone you would be particularly keen to work with on your future collections?

M.C. I can partially answer this question with a quote by one of my classmates:
“We live in a world in which our identity and our personalities are constantly challenged, but clothes can communicate it for us”.
I went to Art School when I was 14, my main subject was “Fashion and Theatrical Costume”, so Polimoda afterwards felt naturally like the right choice.
Doing my BA definitely broaden my perspective on the subject, and made me more determined to establish my own visual language.
While studying, I met amazing and inspirational people from all over the world.
My interest in vintage, historical and ethnic clothes became a more obvious part of my research while studying, and definitely helped me to establish my own current style.
I developed strong interest for the sartorial tradition, experimenting with different uses of fabric, applying it to menswear, womenswear, sportswear and accessories.

My recent collection was inspired by Saint John the Baptist. He is a patron of Florence, Tailors and Wool Makers, which all together relates to my key interests and sentiments.
The under garments are inspired by vintage tailored garments with addition of functional modern sportswear (like the front split jackets instead of being split at the back).

My work is based somewhere in between the past and the present: I like to search for the modern elements in the “old” through objects, pictures, paintings… studying materials, shape, cuts and volumes, adding a touch of modernity through art, of everyday life.
Phoebe Philo and Alexander Wang are my favourite designers in terms of womanswear, but I really would like to work with Stefano Pilati, Alber Elbaz or Kriss Van Assche.
I also really like brands such as Juun J, Siki Im or Umit Benan.

J.P. How did your collaboration with H&M came about? 

M.C. My collaboration with H&M was actually the result of collaboration between the brand and Polimoda.
We were asked to do kids collection; it was real fun project to work on. I teamed up with Alessandra Bonciani from Fashion Technology at Polimoda. At first I worked on the collection by myself, choosing inspirations and developing all the process: (sketches, fabric-print, accessories, collection building, fabric choice etc.) then we started to work together. She is an amazing pattern maker and after lots of trials with the muslin fabric we obtained all the right shapes and cuts.
Our idea matched really well with the concept of H&M, they liked all the details ex. socks and pins that I made for the outfit, shoes that were hand-painted, also print.
It was first time for me and Alessandra, doing a team work, which gave us great example what the real job would feel like.

J.P. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?

M.C. I would like to start my own brand, but now I want to learn as much as possible from the more experienced designers.
My dream has just started, I hope it will continue. Time will tell.

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Source: Marco Ciabatti – Research Images

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Fashion never sleeps so neither do we

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Special Review by Agata Mayer, Editor-in-chief

Who wants to join me in the most popular vacation spot that offers you the trendy nightlife of South Beach, the bustle of Calle Ocho, the highly caffeinated energy of Little Havana, boat shows, car racing taken straight out of the popular video games?
„Party in the city where the heat is on, all night on the beach till the break of dawn“Welcome to Miami, a major center and leader in culture, media, entertainment, the arts and the hottest event – Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim!
MBFWSwim celebrates the sexiest swimwear designs in the world each year at The Raleigh – a South Beach landmark and one of Miami’s most popular and exclusive hotel properties. And this summer, MBFWSwim celebrated its 10 years.
It was obvious that Miami, a place with summer all year around, would be the ideal choice for the swimsuit industry’s biggest event of the year. While it is all about the clothes at any fashion show, this is for sure the fashion event with the least amount of clothes.
It is also good to underline here, that Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Miami (that works together with New York Fashion Week) should not be confused with Miami Fashion Week. The fashion community exactly knows the difference and the fact that the most prestigious of the dozens of international fashion weeks, are the one’s sponsored by Mercedes-Benz.

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AN INTERVIEW

Miami Beach’s club, venues, the chicest bars around the city are always packed with the jet-set crew of sexy, “Beach Bunny” models such as Irina Shayk, editors – sitting and chatting about the latest industry gossip, famous designers, DJ’s and photographers – trying to snap pictures of the very best dressed. The lobbies and surrounding pool areas are packed with cool brands and swimsuit models. Miami fashion parties are notoriously exclusive, mostly for people with VIP status in the fashion world. Looking at this or hearing about this you have an irresistible impression that Miami never sleeps, neither its inhabitants. Everything seems to be so easy-coming, clear sailing – Fashionistas‘ True Heaven on Earth!

I caught up with Ria Michelle, an amazing style blogger, fashion stylist, CEO at Filthy Magic boutique, an eye witness of Miami’s fashion shows, asking about her point of view.

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Ria Michelle at MBFWSwim Miami, photos by Ryan Chua

Agata Mayer: Your opinion about the ‘Business of Fashion Week’ in general. Pros and cons.

Ria Michelle: As a blogger obviously my views are different. I’m so happy to be invited to Fashion Week. It’s very different to see the shows in person, the vibe, the soundtrack, the intoxicating way the clothing flutters down the runway. None of that is replicated in photos and not even in video. They usually swap out the music. It’s so strange. When the lights dim and the music starts and that first model stalks out onto the runway, it’s very powerful. You’re in the designer’s headspace in that moment. You see things that may never be produced which can sometimes be a bad thing (laugh). If it’s a presentation, you get to see everything so close. You can ask the model to move for you, you notice every detail. There’s time to take it all in. I love presentations. Downside, fashion week is kind of a circus. There are so many people just trying to be there, get that check in, get photographed whatever. It’s distracting. Sometimes you wonder is this still about the clothing.

A.M. What was the inspiration behind this edition? Any noticeable impacts or influences?

R.M. Clean. It seemed everyone wanted to do a pared down, very natural look.
The thing that stood out the most was the beauty that was very simplified.

A.M. What trends do you tip to be big this summer (concerns Miami) and winter (concerns Europe)?

R.M. Gingham seems to be a big trend popping up on everything from crop tops, to skirts, coats, etc. Everything is up for grabs with this print. High slits leading to lots of exposed thigh, which I’m totally here for. For winter, oversized coats, very robe and poncho like styles. Basically a blanket situation and you’re all set (laugh). Shades of gray and a kind of olive military green are major color players as well.

A.M. How did you get into fashion and styling?

R.M. I tried my hand at modeling, as I was quite thin when I was younger. Eventually I realized I wasn’t very good at it. A friend of mine also came to the same realization. She decided to try her hand at makeup instead. So to build a portfolio she needed to shoot, she asked me to style her shoot. The rest is history.

A.M. What’s the best part of your job?

R.M. The best part of my job for me is the sheer amount of time I get to spend doing what I want to do. Whether that be sitting on the internet for hours or playing with clothing or beauty products. I also really enjoy working with brands I love. It’s really quite brilliant to receive an email from a brand you admire, and they’re asking to work with you.

A.M. Any downsides?

R.M. Downsides are it can be extremely overwhelming if you’re a one woman show like myself. Everyone wants something, your time, your work and a lot of people want it for free. Exposure doesn’t pay the bills. For me this is a full time gig so if you’re not hustling for your next gig there could be trouble.

A.M. What has been the biggest highlight of your career so far?

R.M. Working with bebe and Levi’s. Levi’s flew a crew to my home and filmed me in various places in town and I got to talk about what inspires me and how I live for a challenge. It was the first time I was really on video in that kind of open capacity. Video is nerve wracking for me. I also really enjoyed filming a video for bebe. I grew up with my mom shopping bebe, so it’s cool to work and be accepted by a brand she loved. They flew me to NYC along with other amazing blogger ladies and we all had a girl’s night out that just happened to be filmed.

A.M. Who are the designers, locally and internationally, that you really admire or are inspired by most?

R.M. I really love Alexander Wang, Saint Laurent, Acne, Givenchy…I’m really into that kind of downtown gritty but clean and luxe aesthetic at the moment.

A.M. Who are your style icons?

R.M. I’ve generally shied away from having icons. When you put someone up on a pedestal you give them the ability to disappoint you. I really like Rihanna and Abbey Lee Kershaw’s style though.

A.M. Your favorite fashion stores in the States?

R.M. I’m a big online shopper. So I frequent Net-A-Porter. I love Intermix both in store and online. Shopbop. Urban Outfitters. Barney’s is AMAZING.

A.M. Looking at your achievements so far, I can say without hesitation that you have found an amazing way to earn a living and have created a job based on creativity. Any tips for those who want to get into the industry?

R.M. Stay true to yourself, set a standard of quality for your work. You don’t owe anyone anything.

A.M. In all these years of doing your day job what have you learned about motivating people?

R.M. I don’t really set out to motivate anyone. It’s not part of my job description, I mostly focus on keeping myself motivated and going. It’s easy to get distracted or bogged down. I’ve met people that tell me I inspired them and that’s so amazing but I’m out here fighting and learning just like everyone else.

A.M. What are the three hottest pieces in your wardrobe right now?

R.M. I have this tiny little gray tank top I got from a local boutique in Miami called Ohm boutique. It’s perfectly 90s and fits like nothing. A pair of Isabel Marant wedges I scored because of a partnership with an amazing local mall called Sawgrass Mills. Last but never ever least my Chanel Chain Boy Bag. I’ve never seen anyone with one in the states. I picked it up in London last year and it’s just my favorite thing ever.

A.M. Thank you.

To read more about Ria, just check her websites: riamichelle.com and www.filthymagic.com

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Erïk Bjerkesjö interviewed by Agata Mayer

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Stockholm-hailed Erïk Bjerkesjö is making waves on the design and broadly understood fashion scene. Polimoda graduate Bjerkesjö entered the world of fashion with his own personal footwear concept of post-modern craftsmanship for men. Each pair of shoes is produced entirely by hand.

Bjerkesjö also works with production for tailoring menswear at Acne Studios – a luxury fashion house based in Stockholm, Sweden with own-brand retail stores located around the world.

Read the interview