Interview with fashion designer Ragna Bjarnadottir

Ragna Bjarnadottir is an Icelandic fashion designer currently finishing her Master’s at the KADK in Copenhagen. Her collections are explorations of different instances of shapes and textures.

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Tell us about your (artistic) background?
– I am currently doing my Masters in fashion design at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design (the Danish Design School). Before that I did my bachelors at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts and a preparation year at Reykjavik School of Visual Art. I have always been very interested in clothing and fashion and how people express themselves through both.

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What fascinates you about fashion design?
– I have always been fascinated with the act of dressing, thinking about why people choose the garments they do, with how you can really like something one year but find it tacky and outdated the next and then beautiful again a few years later. What is it about certain garments that make them appealing? Is it the fit, the color, the shape, the texture? I also love to think about the human body as a canvas. Making different shapes and silhouettes onto it. Studying how a piece of fabric drapes on a body and how it acts when the body moves.

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What is the theme of your current collection?
– With this collection I experimented with visual tension. How the eye travels over the garment and what catches or distracts the eye. I ended up with four looks, each focusing on one portrayal of visual tension, shape, texture, color and actual. The white dress for example challenges the visual tension because it can shift its form. The blue jacket and pants are painted red to draw the eyes attention to the side.

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How do the places influence your work?
– Usually the place I am in does not influence me that much, except for how they make me feel. For this project though, I walked to school, a twenty minute bike ride normally, and took numerous detours on the way, even getting accidentally locked inside a summerhouse area! I walked by Amager beach and got inspired by the sea mist and the huge windmills out at sea and I also walked past a huge waste treatment plant that is being built which is supposed to have a ski slope on the roof! The contrast in all these buildings and surroundings really inspired me to work with contrast within the garments.

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What are you working on right now?
– Right now I am kick-starting my final year at KADK with a project experimenting and researching volume. I am using different methods to create new shapes onto a human body and experimenting with different scaling of patterns, different fabrics, prints and colors. Super exciting stuff and I can already feel some ideas start to form for my masters collection!

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Where do you see fashion design going in the future?
– I think fashion design and fashion in general need to slow down. A lot. I spend a few months on a school project designing three or four looks whereas some designers do huge collections four times a year. There does never seem to be time to really focus on good design. It has to take time in order for it to be good. Everything has to happen so fast these days and it just ends up with a whole lot of ill designed clothes, that are poorly sewn by exploited people in order to get prices down. We need fewer items of better quality that won’t be outdated in half a year. We need more design and less production. I am really excited to be in fashion right now though. There is so much innovation and creativity going on, especially in sustainable and ethical fashion. It does not even make sense anymore to start up a brand and not think about sustainability from the start. It’s just the old established dinosaurs that seem to be fucking up the earth. And even some of them are making some effort of changing their habits! I think young designers just getting out of school and getting hired by the big brands are not just going to sit and work within this flawed system. They are going to ask questions and demand changes for the better.

 

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All designs courtesy of Ragna Bjarnadottir. Photography by Angela Blumen. MUA by Marie Louise Uhrskov Mikkelsen. Model was Mathilde Daarbak from Le Management.To see more what Ragna is up follow her on instagram and have a look at her portfolio