Designer Q&A: Lara Klawikowski

By: @MegStaDeane

Lara Klawikowski is not your average designer. Her imaginative creations stand out amongst others that are trying to fit in. This has awarded her a semi-finalist place in the Renault New Talent Search and also a spot to show her work at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town 2013.

Learn more about how she goes about creating her clothing and what she thinks the South African fashion industry needs more of.

Conceptual design for Lindiwe Suttle - Singer, song-writer and performance artist.
Conceptual design for Lindiwe Suttle – Singer, song-writer and performance artist.

1) You’ve won many awards since graduating, what makes your designs stand out?

My concepts are fresh, my ideas show an interesting perspective, I employ unusual fabrics and techniques and I execute my ideas successfully.

2) Now you’re a semi-finalist for the Renault new talent search. What will it mean for you if you win? Why do you deserve to win?

Winning this competition will mean I am succeeding in creating clothing that is both conceptual and wearable, an ultimate goal of mine. It will give my business the boost it needs to grow into a sustainable and viable enterprise. The exposure at South African Fashion Week is an ideal marketing platform to broaden my audience and the entry to buyer’s lounges and exposure to buyers will give me an opportunity to really understand what is considered to be sellable design in South Africa.

I have a strong sense of direction as a designer and I offer a unique vision to the South African fashion-scape. I’ve reached a point where I know I am now capable of channeling my ideas into a successful business, given this amazing opportunity.

Lara Klawikowski A/W 2013 collection
Lara Klawikowski A/W 2013 collection

3) You often use interesting fabrics, how is it different to creating something with so-called conventional materials?

Using unconventional fabrics poses a greater risk because there is often no textbook solution or prescribed method, and you can’t guarantee a precise outcome. The projects are always more time-consuming because the designs are experiments and there are usually little glitches along the way, regardless of how well I plan the design. Unusual fabrics are more difficult to work with but they’re also more fun. It’s so rewarding when the design is a success.

4) Take us through what you do while creating one of these garments?

I spend a lot of time conceptualising and sourcing materials… staring at fabric, wrapping, draping fabric on myself. Each design is the sum of many inspirations. I sometimes struggle to filter my ideas but the final design always has a strong conceptual outcome. I like dissecting the inspiration for my designs after they are complete. There’s always a surprise element somewhere that I didn’t even realise had inspired my work while conceptualising.

Lara Klawikowski A/W 2013 collection
Lara Klawikowski A/W 2013 collection

5) What inspires both your ‘normal’ collections and avant-garde creations?

Everything… texture, colour, fabric, re-fabrication, technology, sewing techniques, costume design, history, people, purpose, psychology, photography… everything. My inspiration for ‘normal’ collections and avant-garde creations doesn’t differ much. My ‘normal’ collections are essentially diffused, sellable versions of my highly conceptual and artistic signature style. The avant-garde creations are my less refined ideas and they have more complicated washing instructions.

6) Tell us more about your avant-garde designs?

They are mostly commissioned projects. They give me an opportunity to experiment and make mistakes and discoveries. They spark interest in my brand.

Lara Klawikowski Avant Garde design with upcycled garments
Lara Klawikowski Avant-Garde design with upcycled garments
Lara Klawikowski Avant Garde design
Lara Klawikowski Avant-Garde design

7) What do people think of your designs?

I’ve just posted this question as my Facebook status and comments include ‘ingenius’, ‘one-of-a-kind’, ‘fantastic’ and ‘f*cking awesome’.

8) Do you have a specific target market or a style you stick to?

I design for people who appreciate concept-driven, thought-provoking clothing and design detail. They have a strong sense of individuality and strive to create a unique style by acquiring clothing with unusual construction and special fabrics. They are open to innovation and take fashion risks.

Lara Klawikowski A/W 2013 collection
Lara Klawikowski A/W 2013 collection

9) What do you think the South African fashion industry needs more of?

We need more boutiques that stock local designers. The South African fashion industry seems to be divided into two groups: chain stores and designers. Local designers all get thrown into the ‘designer’ group,  and the local boutiques stock one specific look we’re all expected to subscribe to, resulting in local designers losing their unique edge. Often I walk into ‘designer’ boutiques and I can’t distinguish one designer from the next. More niche boutiques would mean more designers could remain true to their own design aesthetic.

Lara Klawikowski design for Vodacom Durban July fashion challenge 2012
Lara Klawikowski design for Vodacom Durban July fashion challenge 2012

10) What’s your short-term and long-term goals for Lara Klawikowski?

Short-term, I want my collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Cape Town 2013 to be a success. I want to sell garments from this collection in local boutiques. I want my collection for the Renault New Talent Search to be strong enough to take me to the finals at South African Fashion Week and I want to win and sell these garments in boutiques, too. Long-term, I want to build a sustainable fashion brand and business.

Check out Lara’s website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

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