Katarina Pahlson interview: A black and white fantasy
“Take something bizarre and make it beautiful” is the perfect quote from Katarina Pahlson to introduce us to her new and luxurious collection. The Harlequin consists of an impeccable 11-piece collection, all in black and white fabric. These eye-catching and dynamic garments show an innovative and imaginative designer. With the use of checks, spots and stripes, these designs are both playful and bold, but with a sophisticated edge. Created on the most beautiful and high quality fabrics, these garments are striking, to say the least.
The Upcoming caught up with Katarina to discuss her love of abstract art and her obsession with fantasy characters.
How did you initially get into the fashion world?
Katarina Pahlson: I have always been interested in clothes and the evolution of trends of the past, present and future.
My favourite subject at school was art, which led me to study art history at university, but I really missed the practical, creative side of art. So after university I decided to go out on a limb and apply to design school in Italy. Spending a year studying in Milan made me realise how much I love the creative design process and the fashion industry.
How do you begin with your designs? Do you always have a specific vision of what is to be created?
In my recent collections I have started by choosing a fantasy character. Not only do I find them fascinating, but also they provide a strong focus-point from which to draw inspiration. The characters’ environment and identity allow me to choose colours and silhouettes for my collections, as well as create a personality or attitude for the clothes.
I always start by choosing an inspiration, which in the case of my recent collections has been focused around a fantasy character; I find them fascinating. This character and the environment in which it exists allows me to choose colours and silhouettes for my collections, as well as creating a personality or attitude for the clothes.
What would you say are your main inspirations?
As I already mentioned, I am fascinated by fantasy characters and the worlds in which they live. I also love abstract art, “Abstract art uses a visual language of form, colour and line to create a composition which may exist with a degree of independence from visual references in the world.” This quote is taken from Rudolph Arnheim’s book Visual Thinking and has been a constant source of inspiration for me.
The colour, line and geometry of abstract art, along with its independence from the real world have influenced my designs enormously. The fantasy world influence has developed since moving into fashion design. These characters provide a more tangible source of inspiration for designing wearable clothing.
The majority of your collection is in black and white fabric. What is the significance of these tones for you?
Well, the character of The Harlequin, which is the name and inspiration for my first collection, sort of chose the colours for me. I have always wanted to do an entire collection in black and white as it allows you to create bold exciting designs without over-complicating them. I like subtle simplicity.
Your designs are real showstoppers. How would you describe your overall signature style?
Thank you! I always find this question really hard to answer. People often say I have a very specific style, while I’m left searching for adjectives that don’t make me cringe. I guess I like to design clothes that are exciting without being outrageous. I’ve always leaned towards clean, bold lines with a playful element rather than soft feminine cuts. I love classic tailoring and creating strong silhouettes in my designs, but also playing with textures, colour and panelling to freshen up classic styles.
What do you think the future holds for your label and how do you see it evolving?
I feel like my style is constantly evolving. As I grow up, so do my designs. I hope that the clothes will always have continuity whilst being new and exciting at the same time. I have aspirations but I’m reluctant to start writing down predictions at this early stage in my career. Every week something exciting and unexpected happens, so I like to approach everything with an open mind and a fresh enthusiasm in the hope that each opportunity will allow me to impact people with my designs. I want to create clothes that people feel excited about wearing.
Shop this exciting and unique collection by Katarina here.
Photos: Courtesy of Katarina Pahlson