HUGGING FORMS

“Many are happy to open up, more than you’d expect, when treated with dignity.” Treat yourself to an interview with fashion designer Klara Marie Bliss, living and working between Prague and Antwerp, on choosing to pursue corsetry, approaching working with bodies, and the archetypes of feminine lingerie.

Let’s start at the beginning. What sparked your interest in fashion design?

As a little kid, I used to tell everyone I was going to be a shoe designer, I would draw shoes everywhere. Then I went to grammar school, specialising in science and languages, and was dreadful at that, so I returned to the original plan. Not shoes but apparel design suited me best all along.

Corsets, in the traditional sense, are no longer necessary in women’s wardrobes. They are coming back in style, again and again, more as a fashion statement. What is your mission as a young designer to focus on modification of bodies through corsets? 

I find it very important to have conversations about corsets, what they represent and what agendas people have pushed through them. Compared to extreme and dangerous body-modifying plastic surgery that is normalised today, corsets seem like a walk in the park, yet are so villainised. At the same time, as you mentioned, they somehow find their way back into fashion repeatedly. 

Personally, I believe we are in a phase where we can reflect critically on wearing corsets and their historical context. It will never be for everyone but I love seeing young kids experimenting with them and hopefully, my designs can show a different, fun side of corsetry.

Bodies are a touchy subject for many. What have you learnt that you think is essential to keep in mind as a designer?  

I have learnt that patience and respect are most helpful when working with people (models) in a manner that might modify and expose their bodies. Many are happy to open up, more than you’d expect, when treated with dignity.

Would you tell us a bit about your aesthetic influences?

Mostly lesbian period dramas.

Can you tell us what the storyline of your master collection is?

I was determined to dive deeper into the stereotypes of feminine lingerie, which are closely linked to the ideal of beauty and the male gaze throughout the years. My goal was to explore the ever-changing standard for women’s bodies, whilst remaining true to my visual expression. I wanted to indulge in what I love about historical lingerie, the fabrics, the techniques, yet simultaneously challenge what we consider desirable with the shapes and silhouettes. 

Your latest collection is very different from teh previous works. Can you tell us about your research? Are there any details that surprised you?

If there is anything I learnt in the past years, it is that trusting my intuition is my biggest strength as a designer. You can do all the research you want but it sometimes depends solely on whether it visually makes sense to you. So, lately, I try to do more of that. I feel like creatives try so hard to constantly produce fresh ideas and products, ideally with “virality” value, instead of focusing on what genuinely attracts them. Sure, one might not be reinventing the wheel all the time, but you can feel it when someone creates with genuine passion and joy. So, basically, whilst my latest work might not be the most commercially interesting, I consider it a love letter to myself.

What feeling would you like to evoke in those who wear your designs? Is there any sensation you want to send/leave to the wearer?

I would like my pieces to bring in a sense of everyday luxury into the wearers’ life, something unique, maybe cheeky, just for themselves.

Our current theme is FULL OF DESIRE, so what do you desire for yourself as an artist right now, and what would be the ultimate success you would like to achieve?

Success to me takes many different forms but in terms of my craft, it would be this: Whilst I love hand-making everything from scratch by myself, planning, scheduling, social media and all the things that come with building a personal brand, I can’t wait till it reaches a level that I can pay people to help me out. So I can focus on creative and bigger-picture decisions. I sometimes feel like I limit myself just by doing everything, all the time, all at once.

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Bio

Klara Marie Bliss is an Australian-born Czech designer who graduated from the Antwerp Royal Academy, Belgium. In her free work, she focuses on experimental lingerie, corsetry and fabric printing.

Credits

Designer / Klara Marie Bliss @vvvonaaa

PHOTO CREDITS / Michaël Smits @michael_smits

Interview / Kateřina Hynková

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