DUTCH FASHION DESIGNER, ILJA VISSER, EMBARKED ON HER CAREER IN FASHION BY ATTENDING THE SCHOOL OF ARTS IN ARNHEM, THE NETHERLANDS. STUDYING FASHION DESIGN LED HER TO NEW YORK FOR INTERNSHIPS AT DONNA KARAN AND MARIA CORNEJO WHERE SHE ACQUIRED HER FINE SKILLS OF TAILORING. UPON GRADUATION IN 2001, ILJA MOVED TO MILAN, ITALY TO FURTHER DISCOVER THE FOUNDATION OF FASHION, TEXTILES, AND DESIGN.
ILJA sat down with Kontrol recently about her new collection, see what she had to day below.
1. Tell me about your fall 2013 collection. What was the creative force behind your inspiration?
The New York City High Line Park, mainly the congruity of nature and artificiality in one setting, inspires the Ready to Fish_ Autumn/Winter 13/14 collection. The park is located on an old railroad line, the West Side line, which has now been transformed into an urban escape of nature and beauty. This idea of blending the natural with the unnatural into one harmonized environment is the central concept behind and can be seen in all aspects of the collection.
Piet Oudolf, Dutch garden designer of High Line, creates a landscape of color and texture by maintaining the plants’ natural state throughout all four seasons. This idea of retaining and respecting the natural qualities of an object is another core vision of this collection. By understanding the characteristics and allowing organic behavior without manipulation, it is then possible to observe the natural occurrence of the element. This notion of letting something run its own course is practiced in the design process of HIGH LINE. The materials are not manipulated but enabled to take their natural shape.
This fusion of natural and unnatural is visualized in both the choice of fabric and color story. The collection utilizes both technical, synthetic fabrics and natural fiber blends. The technical, new developments blends with ease of care and wears ability, are used as suiting fabrics and for the structure in the garments. While many of the natural fabrics, such as wool, cotton, and viscose blends convey the lightweight, organic aspects of nature.
The color story is composed of varying tones of grays, blues, greens, browns, and burnt orange. All of which can be found in the contrasting components, manmade and natural, of the High Line Park. The colors of metals, like slate grey, steel blue, rust, and oxidized copper, represent the artificial elements of the city. At the same time these colors can also be found in nature, such as green grass, burnt orange of autumn leaves, and the blue/grey of the city sky. The prints not only visualize this merge of opposing ideas, but also represent search for knowledge, such as Oudolf’s understanding from previous generations. The prints were digitally created to typify late 19th century Encyclopedia drawings, compiling images of elements of plants with the tools and objects that would be used to build the High Line.
The silhouettes and design details reflect all possible occasions and activities that take place in the park. For activities of action or performance, the designs exhibit a sportive influence. This is seen in high-tech, active-wear elements such as technical and double-faced fabrics and fast fastenings of Velcro and plastic zips and snap buttons. Another example would be time of relaxation in the park, seen in sleek, leisurewear looks, comprising of brushed fabrics and knits. This symbolism is especially true for the versatility and personal value of the park, representing the adaptability and functionality of each piece in the collection.
2. What are your thoughts on fashion and style for fall 2013?
Wear “Ready or fish_” or “ILJA” or don’t wear anything…!
3. Is style or trend more important to you when designing a collection?
Absolutely not. When we (my team and me) start with a new collection we really try to think out of the box. The funny thing is, of course you remember trends we have seen on the street, on fairs or on the web, but the trick is to give it a space in your head (to park it) and once I start sketching the “machine” in my head makes new garments with a flavor of trends that were “parked” in my head.
4. Leather is a huge trend that’s been featured heavily from fall of 2012 through winter of 2013.
How did this impact your work this season?
Leather always has been a strong material! I really like it myself. We add leather in the new collection for SS14. You definitely should check it out. I like leather the best when “less is more”. Just simple pieces and let the simplicity and feel do the work.
5. How long have you been designing?
I started in 2005. I first started with the label “Ready to fish_” and one year later I started the label “ILJA”. For the label “ILJA” we follow a conceptional vision with an artistic approach. Here we really design new garments, by lots of pattern investigation. For the Ready to fish_ label, we make beautiful, edgy collections that are less expensive.
6. What types of things inspire you? What materials did you use when making this collection?
We use all kinds of materials. From satin to cotton. We used wool and blends. Nature mostly inspires me. In a way it’s always interesting to me. At this moment I’m definitely in a ‘nature vibe’. Who knows what comes next? 😉
7. What are the more complicated aspects of design that people may not know about?
Do you have space for a few pages? 😉
There are a lot of aspects that people don’t know. People see normally catwalk shows or see the clothes hanging in the stores. The way to get there is extremely long. Big investment is necessary and lots of patience and hard work. To build a label from zero, it really takes time, lots of years. You need to have everything in order; production, sales, marketing, design. And so on!
8. Some designers are more known for a particular seasonal collection–like D.V.F. for Spring/Summer. What is your favorite season and why? Are some seasons more difficult to create for than others?
I don’t have a favorite season. I like both seasons. I like summer because of the freshness in the garments. But I like winter because it’s more bulky, and more knitwear. I also think it’s important that our clients should be secure to find something of our brand in winter and in summer time. They should know what to expect.
Take a look at a few pieces from ILJA 2013 Fall collection