STAND UP / STAND OUT | Designer Interview

STAND UP / STAND OUT is the project of Icelandic fashion designer Elísabet Karlsdóttir. After graduating from Iceland Academy of the Arts in 2013, Elísabet has worked solely with fur and focuses on the use of natural materials and sustainability.
The project is a clothing line featuring fur and was one of very few chosen for entry at 2015’s REMIX, an international fashion and fur design competition held in Milan in collaboration with Vogue Talents. The project was sponsored by Eggert feldskeri, Iceland’s most noted furrier, and was subsequently showcased in his store in central Reykjavík as a DesignMarch event.
The line consists of three looks that combine fur, which in itself can be considered old fashioned, with street style and sportswear for a modern infusion which is both unique and progressive.

We asked Elísabet a few questions to further acquaint ourselves with the project and the designer behind it.

What was the inspiration for the collection?

My inspiration came from the transformation of women’s wardrobes in the 1920’s. During that era women were starting to wear modern day clothes and silhouettes. I was inspired by the creativity and independence of the strong female icons of the era like Natacha Rambova, Louise Brooks, and Greta Garbo. Their way of mixing great elegance and relaxed cool and comfort, wearing loose garments with ease and comfort in rich materials such as fur and velvet.
I explored that attitude and made my current version. I wanted to take fur down from the pedestal, move away from the glamour to comfort and sporty cool.

Which parts of bringing the collection to life have you enjoyed the most and which have been the most difficult?

I’ve always enjoyed the process as a whole. When I have the concept and draft of my designs I can’t wait to start making samples and working with the materials. At that point I like to be able to keep things open, so working with the materials can really inspire new ideas. Things always change when they become three-dimensional and all the different fabrics and textures come together, so the whole process is really organic – I like to be able to take a step back.
The most difficult part was probably just what little time I had to work with, but that always seems to follow fashion so I also kind of like the stress.

How did the collaboration with Eggert feldskeri come about and what effect did it have on your creative process?

I’ve been working at Eggert Feldskeri’s store since June so that’s how it came to me. This project STAND UP/ STAND OUT was originally something I made for the fur and fashion design competition REMIX where I was selected as a finalist to show in Milan. I was Iceland’s contestant and was sponsored by Eggert Feldskeri both on the production and in materials.
I think the collaboration didn’t really effect my creative process. I had the concept and designs done and he helped with understanding the materials. But I really enjoy good teamwork, and this was definitely that.

You chose to exhibit your collection as a DesignMarch event. How important is a festival like DesignMarch for a designer?

For me DesignMarch was an opportunity to show the project at home as well. The timing was perfect; I had the competition in Milan the week before so it really made sense.
DesignMarch is really important. It’s so much stronger and more effective to have the design scene working together than for an individual designer to stand alone fighting for attention. It’s also just a way for the scene in Iceland to connect.

How does Scandinavian design rank on the global market, in your opinion?

We have a lot of good designers rising from Scandinavia and it is drawing attention. It’s hard to look at Scandinavia as one because there is much diversity along with some of the similarities, mostly regarding tradition and experience. In Iceland we are still just at a starting point, but sure can learn a lot from our neighbors and how far they have come on the global market.

Does Icelandic design sell itself or do designers need to be more aggressive?

I think Icelandic design is attracting attention but in most cases still selling in small scale. That has most to do with lack of financial resources that is affecting production scale and sales. But I also think we are still just learning and each brand or designer has to find the right market for themselves because that can vary along with the designs. It can also be dangerous to grow too fast and not be ready.

How important is sustainability and environmentalism for a contemporary designer? 

I think it is extremely important. I think we don’t need more things in general, we all have way too much stuff. So what we need to do is change the way we consume, buying good quality design can by itself be a sustainable act. It is mostly the mass production and the following waste that is the problem.

And finally, what’s next on your agenda?

I’m working with Eggert Feldskeri and his team on their next collection and I’m extremely excited about that. It’s so great to get to work with and around such professionalism. I’m also a part of the organizing team of LungA Art festival that is held in east Iceland in July and these days we are working on the program which is always fun.

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Photos by Anna Maggý

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