Maja is a fashion student at Willem de Kooning Academy. She is part of our exhibition this friday the 23rd of march. We had a nice conversation about how she started as a fashion designer, her work process and other thoughts. Discover Maja’s work at our event.
What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion for me is art. It is the best way to express more disciplines in one, because it is connected to philosophy, sociology, contemporary art and so many other things. So for me it is just the best way to express my ideas about my art and my view on the world in general.
Where does your love for fashion come from?
I had it basically all my life. I know it sounds cheesy, but my mum kept all my kindergarten and primary school drawings and guess what, I really loved to draw shoes, also my mum didn’t restrict me by dictating what am I going to wear, so I remember I was like 6 or 7 and my whole wardrobe was just white and pink. I guess I was very picky. But yeah, I guess fashion and me was just meant to be, even when I resisted for some time and thought it’s not for me, true love wins in the end. (also refers to 5. How long have you been interested with fashion?)
How do you describe yourself as a fashion designer?
Crazy, neet and avant-garde?
What is your history in the fashion world?
My first touch with real fashion was when I wanted to level up my sewing skills that I learned home from my mum and just by trying out myself, so I did a sewing course when I was 14 or 15 years old. From then on I had also an advanced level sewing course, an internship at a tailor’s studio, also around that period of life and what really changed my life was an internship at a Serbian fashion designer’s studio; her name is Aleksandra Lalic. I was at hers a little bit less than a year. A couple of months after I realized that fashion is really my thing and that I really want to do this. So I prepared myself for applying for fashion school at another’s Serbian designers place; her name is Senka Kljakic. She taught me the laws and basics of good design. I am so thankful to those wonderful women, also Vera and Ana who taught me tricks of sewing at Aleksandras and Senka who pushed me when I needed to be pushed. I like the fact that I never went to a special fashion or art related high school, but to a formal really strict academic one, where we had 14 subjects each year for 4 years and Latin language for 2 years and math etc. the full program. I think that influenced a lot of my thinking process and inspiration and I am actually glad about that, it gives me some kind of balance.
Who are your favorited designers?
There are quite a lot, but let’s say Rei Kawakubo with her brand Comme des garcons for sure, Vivienne Westwood definitely and Martin Margiela. There are more, but this is definitely the top 3. I love the anti-fashion concept in general and to that I can add to my favourites and refer to Helmut Lang and Rick Owens. But, those are kinda legends, queens and kings. From the “not so famous” and more “new” designers, I really like Masha Ma and Wanda Nylon, also Gosha Dubinsky. What Rei and the others did back in the days was revolutionary, inspiring, breath taking and something I just could not or still cannot see in any of the nowadays designers. Yes, there is Virgil Abloh and some others, but it kinda all slips into capitalism and there is not really any “fuk the system” concept anymore. AF Vandevorst, Lemaire, Jacquemus are also really nice once.
What is your favorite clothing item? (to wear, and why?)
Definitely pants. Pants and turtlenecks. Well first of all pants are super practical because one can nicely move in them and I love to move (sometimes too much, because I can’t stand still), but I also love to make them, because there are so many details and stitches and length, height, pockets, zippers and buttons one can really play with it. If I have to be precise I would say woman pants in particular, because they stand for feminism and the revolution in woman freedom in the so man leading world, especially back in the days when the whole movement started, pants were the statement, and I love good statements.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration is quite random. It mostly just appears, like, I can smell something or see something on the streets (mostly) or see a person or just wake up and it is there etc. But as I also very much like to travel, inspiration can be found in seeing new places, cultures, also absolutely random shops, vintage clothes, parties, you name it. The core of my inspiration I think are powerful woman, or as Rei Kawakubo once said “A woman is not a barbie doll”. I also like movies a lot, like Kusturica (my favorite movie from him “Arizona dream”), Jarmusch, Lars von Trier etc. etc. Also the absurdist philosophy of living, poetry like Charles Bukowski. I like ugly, emotions or faces that are maybe not often shown, not sweet and cute and pretty, but real, real to the core.
What is your process when you design clothes?
Usually I start with a mind map or moodboard, then collect pictures or whatever is connected to my basic inspirations, research and more research about basically everything from shapes to old archives to whatever. I also like to just make a moodboard and then sit and just draw and let myself go. That’s how my portfolio book for applying to Willem de Kooning came to life and I was quite impressed. Sometimes it’s good just to do and not complicate so much. Of course the end product is to make the actual clothes, but there is also the question which material and then making the patterns (which is very interesting but also a pain in the ass because it takes so much time and until you get to the final pattern you make so much mistakes and redoes and and and), but yeah I kinda don’t want to sink into a routine, but keep trying to do new things all the time, that also helps the creativity.
What materials do you use and why?
I really like to work with non-stretchy, stiff materials like unbleached thick cotton or jeans material. I simply like the look of it and the way they should be sewn (which is different with stretchy materials). But, I think I would like to experiment with new environmental friendly and recycled materials. Like material from banana leaves or material from ocean plastic. I think those materials should become like a normal thing in the future. Not like now, somebody makes something out of those materials and then it’s like wow its special; it should be like a usual thing.
What design are you mostly proud of?
I am really kinda proud of designs and illustrations I made preparing for WdKA. The whole collection is called “Coffee and cigarettes” referring to Jim Jarmusch’s movie with the same title. The whole process and illustrations can be found on my issuu page and partly on tumblr. But the one thing I am proud of that I made are pants. Making good pants is a painful process, so when I made my own pattern and after I think 10 alterations and try outs I finally made them how I wanted, I was really proud and surprised I actually have that much patience in me.
What distinguishes you from other designers?
I guess mostly that, that I don’t give a fu*k about certain things. Excuse my language, but as I said before I like blurry, ugly, unperfected (what is perfect actually), asimetric, strong attitude and I really really like the moto “Fu*k the system” and I would really love to bring that into my work and business and just do things my way. Also, I´m not sure, but a lot of students start doing fashion design because of fame or money but I don’t really care about that. I would just like to make good quality fashion and maybe even stay anonymous or something like that, and if I can live from that and just do my thing and that some nice people, artists and women or men with a similar attitude as me wear my clothes, I might be happy with that.
Who would you like to collab with?
I would mainly like to collab with artists, filmmakers and I guess people or artists that are not into my discipline, mainly because I think that they have a different view on things, more different that I and another fashion designer would have and that those different views could make something experimental and I like that idea. Of course collabing with other fashion colleagues is also nice and can be very powerful and lead to breathtaking results, but we shall see in the future. Nowadays a lot of designer collab with other brands (ex. Damir Doma and Lotto or Gosha Rubchinskiy and Burberry, Vetements and DHL and so on). I will probably collab when nobody is collabing because it’s in my nature to do things against the stream. In serbian that is called “inat” and it’s in my blood, can’t really change it.