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Paula Knorr: Painting Power

09.06.2017 | Fashion | BY:

Paula Knorr paints power. Through molten textures and engulfing energy, striking clashes and forthright form. The brush she paints with is of a modern sensibility, dappled by her emotive translations through evocative fabric and stylistic fluidity.
The womenswear designer, currently supported by the British Fashion Council’s support scheme NEWGEN, initiated her interest in design with a naturalised association of fashion as an art form: as her artistic explorations developed, so did her desire to place the female at the foreground of her inspiration, with the presentation of femininity and strength colouring her collections each season.
From her emphasis on movement and sway in the shapes she cuts, there is something quite mesmerising about a Paula Knorr piece in motion. For Paula, clothes create a synergy between the wearer and themselves – seen in how her garments appear to mould around the body’s lines and horizons. Through her methodology – draping first on the figure before sketching out her ideas – the woman is the leading instigator in her inspirations. Her February 2017 showcase at London Fashion Week, Collages of Herself, took shape from excerpts of conversations Paula conducted with inspiring women, the figure and the female psyche informing the results. Her premier collection, ‘Her Wet Skin’, injected the power of contrasts between fabric choice to react and cause an emotional response to the collection. Discussing the challenges and responsibilities of design and the role of reality, the emerging designer is creating more than collections, she is aiming to capture expressions.
Paula Knorr AW17

Paula Knorr AW17

 

As a young woman of the 21st Century, what influenced your decision to study fashion?

I knew that I wanted to create clothes from a really young age on. I was always sketching and sewing outfits for my little sister. Growing up in a very artistic household – my parents are both artists and illustrators – I naturally saw fashion as an art form and for a long time not the commercial side of it.

How did your design process and inspirations change from when you began your studies?

When I started to study it was hard for me to source inspiration in personal subjects. Especially during your studies you have to talk about concept and inspiration on a daily basis in front of various people – I was too self-conscious to really work through my inner heartstrings. It was during my MA in London at the RCA that I realised there is no time to hide behind fashionable subjects – that it’s more worth your time when you work on something that truly defines you.

Paula Knorr AW17

Paula Knorr AW17

What is your design process now?

My main intention in my design is to put the woman in the foreground, not the cloth. It´s all about her body, her movement and her personal beauty. This interaction and balance between the body and the garments is essential . Details, prints, etc. come second: that´s why I never start by drawing my ideas. I have to drape and preferably create them directly on a real body to explore how they interact.

How does the female voice shape your seasonal collections?

To support and illustrate female identity is the core of my designs. In fashion you sometimes get the feeling that the superficial vision of a girl and her clothes on the runway is getting more attention than the real woman that wears the garment later on. Every season, I try to define a method to reverse that and remind of the actual purpose of fashion.

What does being a designer mean to you? Are you a translator of femininity and power?

As a womenswear designer it is absolutely necessary to challenge yourself and what femininity means to you. Your sole field of work is to dress women, so you have the responsibility to be progressive, powerful and a fighter for their wishes. In your small area of reach you have the chance to contribute and absolutely change something for women.

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You describe your most recent collection as a complex collage of attributes – what are they and what lends to their complexities?

I wanted to showcase the diversity and complexity of the female psyche and appearance. Like in a collage all those emotions and characteristics don´t belong or fit together, they come from all sorts of places. Fashion tends to showcase this one dimensional, fictive girl as a muse. This makes the collection easy to understand, but also not relevant as an inspiration to reality.

How do you unite abstract emotion with material expression?

I wanted to transfer the interaction of sometimes conflicting emotions directly into garments by choosing fabrics which are not easy to understand and trigger your haptic impression. For example the AW17 silk and foil mix chiffon, which can look like glossy transparent latex in pictures, but moves like super thin chiffon, which creates a beautiful antithetic effect.

Your mission statement discusses creating an identity that allows a balance of strength and vulnerability – how do they feed into each other?

In reality a personality is never one dimensional. You can feel strong and vulnerable at the same time and tons of things more. To influence my design with reality, with a realistic female identity, is important in my process. What does femininity mean to you? My own picture of femininity is not the most unconventional one per se, but I have no problem with this. I think the main goal of feminism nowadays is to create room and acceptance for all concepts of feminine identity equally.

In an age of social anxiety, pressure and responsibility, where does your brand sit amidst the uncertainties surrounding women of our generation?

I want to connect to women of our generation which feel lost between gender neutral and over-sexual. I want to show that to be a feminine woman is equally important and needs the same attention than to be anything else. I was never the coolest kid and I always loved to feel really feminine. My main goal is to create a wardrobe for those women, which are not afraid to be strong and powerful but equally feminine.

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