IN Interviews : Stine Riis
After graduating from London College of Fashion, up-and-coming designer, Stine Riis is immediately making waves for herself. Upon completion of her BA, Riis was granted the Biddle Sawyer Silks Award, given for her innovative and material explorations. Stine’s graduate show has created a buzz with many press platforms, online as well as offline. Her work has been featured in tenmagazine, BBC News, Vogue, and The Guardian, just to name a few. Stine’s FW2011 collection, inspired by minimalist/fine artist Robert Morris and Donald Judd adopts details and structural elements we know to be true and at times slightly mundane in fashion and pattern drafting.
Riis uses wool, silks, and patent leather to build a beautiful color and layering story. Her collection really showcases her ability to create unconventional patterns in building very unique, structural garments. Most important, Riis’ work provides insight into tailoring and the strenuous framework tailors strive to create. When looking at the collection, the viewer is instantly exposed to many structural details of design. If we look at the work of Hussein Chalayan, Alexander Wang, or Rick Owens, though they are very different fashion designers, they create work that is easily understood and beautiful. Though much of Riis’ work appears as couture or high end, her design approach could fuse well in mainstream fashion as well. All of her work can be styled with everyday attire. Riis understands the importance of wearability from conception to completion. Each piece involves a high level of uniformity and abstraction; this is rare and very essential in the fashion industry.
Where are you from? Originally Denmark, but been living in London the last three years.
At what point did you know Fashion Design was an interest? As I’m very visual, fashion has always been an interest. I have always created images, stories and expressed myself visually. [I've] found that fashion was a good way for me to combine my creativity and interest in business and marketing.
Favorite fabric or material you gravitate towards? For some reason my fingers always find their way to the wool and silks. Pure fabrics are of course most satisfying to work with as a designer. But a color or texture in a fabric can get my ideas started, no matter the quality, but usually I always find the Italian fabrics most inspiring, I guess I like perfection.
How do you attain inspiration? My radar for inspiration is constantly turned on. I’m a very curious person and like to explore everything new. I try to stay updated on contemporary art, photography, architecture, lifestyles, food, politics, and general trends in society. My initial ideas usually come from a mix of inputs from different channels, and take form almost subconsciously. When I have my focus point, I build a concept based on research often based on contemporary art.
Seasonally, I often look to specific fashion designers whom I respect for inspiration. Is there anyone that has caught your eye or really influenced your current work? I don’t look at current seasons that much; more on the designer's visions in general to be aware of their point of view in fashion. I love the way Hussein Chalayan works with concepts.
You recently graduated with honors from London College of Fashion with a BFA in Fashion Design. How does it feel? When I received the award from Biddle Sawyer Silks for innovative use of fabrics I was very pleased, it was a great surprise and a good way to end my time at London College of Fashion. After a year of constant hard work, I’m restless when spending time with friends. It feels like having a constant overload of energy.
I can remember when I completed my BFA in Fashion it was the most tiring, yet exhilarating moment of my life. What is one thing about London College of Fashion you will miss? I will miss the people that I shared the process of making the final year collection, and the buzz the in the studio where we all worked.
It is evident that you are not afraid to mix bold colors. Your color story is pretty consistent throughout your current collection. How do you approach color and what influence does it have on your work? I love color and combining colors, it helps me tell my story or mood in the collection. It's something I have always done and it's merely my intuition that tells me what colors to use rather than a rational decision. Also color is a good way to portray change, which fashion is about.
What are your feelings about working in the design industry or producing your own work? I’m eager to get started. I would love to start my own label, but think it is essential to get more experience first; I still have a lot to learn. Being a student is one thing, working in the industry another. I can’t wait to work somewhere where I can follow the process from idea, to design, fittings, production, getting the first samples back, to seeing the product in stores and streets.
Designer to designer, do you feel like Fashion is thriving right now? Yes, the last season's collections have been taking fashion in a new direction. I think the bad economy sent fashion in a new (and colorful) direction that was needed. It is great to see that designers are stepping up their game and are taking risks. I think some companies still play it safe, but let's hope that the big bulk of talented new designers coming out can push the development further.
While your work ventures into very futuristic and innovative territory, it also carries many traditional fabrics, tailoring, and construction elements. Do you gravitate towards futuristic fashion, traditional tailoring, or vice versa? What is your take on fashion innovation in the industry today? I like to combine [and] contrasts futurism, and tailoring is one of them. I like there to be something recognizable and new in one collection. I have always been fascinated by tailored menswear and even applied for menswear initially, but found the woman body more inspiring to work with. Regarding innovation in the industry I believe the innovation within development of fabric and textures is very interesting. There are only so many shapes you can create, the body has its limitations, but fabrics have endless possibilities.
Any future collaborations or big projects you can speak on? I might have something in the pipeline. You will be the first to know.
-- Special thanks to Stine Riis. Questions written by James Buford, and edited by Alicia Fairclough for Infashuated © 2011. No part of this content or information included therein may be reproduced, republished or redistributed without the prior consent of Infashuated.