Currently reading : An Interview with Marina Hoersmanseder
Marina Hoersmander is the Berlin based Franco-Austrian fashion designer known for her hand crafted work with leather. Inspired by prosthetics and the body, Sang Bleu visited her in her studio to find out more about her and her work.
Did you always want to study fashion?
Initially, I studied business in Vienna and London. That was kind of an ultimatum set by my parents. However it was always certain to me that I would eventually end up in fashion. I must say that I already feel that my business degree has helped me a lot. It prepared me to look at fashion from another perspective. I am definitely aware that if I wanted to pursue making art, I needed the financial support. When I finished my business studies I applied to Esmod in Berlin and moved there. I have always thought that I would live in Paris. But after my first collection I realised how many of my friends were based in Berlin. They supported me at every step of my collection, they were hands on from the very beginning. I am not sure if I would have been able to do all of this on my own in another city.
How did your internship at Alexander McQueen come about?
Shortly after I took the internship last summer. I sent an application first and they invited me for an interview. I remember, the interview took place late in the evening, after 10pm. Most of the team was still there, working in the studio. I was thrilled, as they had offered me a place on the spot. I stayed there for three months. I enjoyed working there and it gave me plenty of inspiration for my future collections.
You seem to be very inspired by muscles and orthopaedic belts, where did this
inspiration initially came from?
It actually came up at the McQueen internship. I was doing research and stumbled on old-time orthopaedic corset pictures, used to cure scoliosis (a medical condition in where a person’s spine is curved from side to side). What’s interesting, the first corset originally derives from the orthopaedics. At the same time, I became very interested in a skin condition called smallpox. This is where the name of my collection ‘Ilpox’ came from. The ruffles on my designs are literally inspired by a skin drying off and eventually coming off your body. I’ve gotten into this whole universe. I used orthopedic bandages, also preÂowned and I adapted them while working on my pieces. It was essential to me to preserve the original bandages colour changes that occur with time.
Where did you get them from? How easy was it for you is to obtain such elements?
Ebay! Household sales! I don’t know actually who would buy this kind of stuff. (laughs) It’s actually very hard to find anything like that, even on Ebay. But I gues I was lucky and I found someone who had a lot of cleaned up, but used bandages. Obviously, I ended up buying every single piece they had. When I work I take on inspiration literally. If I get inspired by such a difficult subject, I work with real materials such as bloody bandages as well. One of my friends who works at the Charité Hospital, once brought me this neck brace, that I have originally used as a construction reference. The ’stiff neck’, which is part of my collection has been strongly inspired by this brace. I need to admit, that in a way, I really got stuck on the orthopedic products. I am totally absorbed by them. I definitely am a visual person who will take inspiration literally. I am not easily inspired by a falling leaf or anything like this. I’m a bit more pragmatic. This is why I don’t want to let loose of the topic so fast. For the next collection I don’t want to completely step away from the orthopedic subject, I plan to build on it. That’s why, for my new collection I have been inspired by the human brain. I guess you could say that I took on neurology now… (laughs) I work a lot with leather, the drapings are inspired by how the brain folds. I’ve been trying to make my collection a little bit more wearable. I’m always looking for a good balance between art and wearable garments. There’s always this question of connecting the two. And I know it can be done. I see my customer as a woman who understands my designs, loves a mix of body conscious corset inspirations and fetish. She can buy a coat with a little leather strap and feels the spirit of the whole collection, but it’s not like she needs to show it in an obvious way.
Could you tell me about the mood boards that you make?
At the beginning it was really difficult, because everyone’s reactions to my topics were negative. People asked me why I didn’t create ‘pretty things’, why designers always take inspiration from such dark places. Of course it was hard in the beginning, but honestly I think the results are really aesthetically pleasing. So of course you can create something ‘beautiful’ out of something difficult or even sad. Often the motor of doing what I do is still dependable on people’s reactions. Luckily I have received a lot of positive response after my first collection. That’s what drives me.
How do you start a new collection? What is your work process?
Recently just before I finished my last collection I wasn’t sure what could be my next step. After that I took some holiday, simply to recharge my batteries, trying to do nothing for a while. This helps me a lot. After a short while, I start getting new ideas and something was crystallising in my mind about what I want to do next. It’s an ongoing process. After that you start talking to people and eventually new ideas are coming to light. My sister is a neurochemist for instance, so that’s how I started to learn more about our brain. I started to explore it, I stumbled upon those wrinkled dogs, and also later those grey naked cats, with all the wrinkles, you know? I just got inspired by their skin, how it falls, what sort of pattern it creates. Then there are many other elements that come together and eventually I start to draw.
Would you say, that your work process is mainly based around drawing?
Do you also use different techniques?
I draw all the looks. I couldn’t start working on a new collection without drawings. Of course the garments start to differentiate from the drawings at some point, but I definitely need to have all the looks on paper, before I start the design process. All my fabrics are cut by hand, some of the pieces are glued together by laser, since leather forms cannot be done by machines. Everything is hand made here in my studio. Here in these holy walls. (laughs)
Marina Hoermanseder was interviewed in her studio in the Mitte district of Berlin,
preparing for her debut fashion show at Berlin Fashion Week.