‚‚I express my ideas in fashion, but I also enjoy the craftsmanship and functionality,‘‘ says Karolína Čechová, the winner of the Fashion Design category.

18. 8. 2021 | Martina Jelínková

This year’s winner of the Fashion Design category is no newcomer to the Best in Design competition. Already last year, the young fashion designer fought her way to the podium with her collection Fragments, and in this year’s design competition she stunned the jury with her work so much that she awarded her the first place. How was the creation of the winning collection Inner Sactum and how did the author inspire the human body and collagen fibers? Where does she see the future of Czech fashion and what is most important for her when creating clothes? We interviewed Karolina for you!

To create the winning collection, you were inspired by collagen fibres, which are part of the muscles in the human body, and the collection itself looks as if it is part of the human body. Why the muscle theme?

The idea for the work came from a class assignment that involved working with knitting or stretchy material. I was trying to find a parallel in something physical, material and very close and familiar to me, my own body. It is constantly changing, renewing and aging. It adapts to different conditions and environments. I was interested in what something that is indescribable and very difficult to grasp even in the scientific sphere looks like – which is the fascia. Fascia is a collagen fibre that is constantly changing its density, volume and shape. They fundamentally influence and connect the entire human apparatus. My aim was to express their character through knitted material. The knitting of a uniform material, yarn, can be varied by the size and tightening of the stitches, chaotic or regular interlacing or pattern, and thus different formations can be created. Fascia interprets my perception of the interconnectedness of the world and us very well. I naturally began to create knitted material, without design rules or previous experience. As a result, the knitted fabric organically evolved not only in pattern but also in form and naturally packed onto the body, as if re-growing into it.

What impressed the Best in Design jury the most about the collection? Was it difficult to defend your work among the others?

I think the jury might have been impressed by my approach to working and creating, and how the collection has an organic, fluid feel. The collection evolved not only in material and form, but also in the interconnectedness of one model to the next. In terms of defending the work, it was a bit of a struggle. The entire presentation was online like last year, but this time I didn’t defend from the comfort of my home, but during a lunch break at a workshop I attended at a Czech knitting company that is dedicated to innovative machine knitting. Unfortunately, I didn’t manage to see all the other competitors, but a very good friend of mine was among them, so it was very nice, even though I felt nervous, the whole experience was interesting.

It’s not your first time competing in Best in Design. Where have you moved since then both professionally and personally?

No, it’s not my first time competing. I already entered the competition last year with my bachelor thesis – the Fragments collection, thank you very much for the 3rd place. I am now pursuing my Master’s degree, and further developing my work with knitwear, focusing more on wearability and functionality, and putting it in the context of a whole clothing collection. Since the Inner Sanctum collection, two more capsule collections have been created and will be on display and possibly on sale after the holidays. I am planning a post-graduate internship with a brand focusing on eco-design, which is where I want to continue to direct my future work. Personally, I’m trying to slow down, spend more time outdoors, not just in the city, and get a fresh perspective on things around me. I have a thesis coming up and I want to have clear, sorted thoughts and not be stressed.

What’s the biggest topic in fashion for you at the moment?

I often discuss current topics in fashion with my boyfriend, who is a footwear designer. This allows us to reflect on the most current topics in clothing and footwear, and exchange insights with each other. The biggest topic for us seems to be the environmental, ethical and social aspects of fashion and its production and sustainability in the world, but also in our country. Where fashion will go from here, and what role we, as young emerging designers with our attitude and desire for change, will play in this.

What do you enjoy most about fashion?

Creativity, expressing feelings, opinions, ideas. But also the pure craftsmanship and functionality of the garment, and how it all fits together at the end and can become a purely usable and wearable item with content.

What do you yourself feel most comfortable in?

I feel most comfortable in jeans from my latest collection or vintage Levis in organic cotton, a white t-shirt or turtleneck and Novestas.

Do you have any favourites among Czech and international designers?

Among the global ones, I guess at the moment Jil Sander under the creative direction of Lucy and Luke Meyer, OAMC, Maharishi, Yohji Yamamoto, especially the older collections, I also like the Hermes period under the creative direction of Martin Margiela, then Kepler London, Hyke and other smaller independent designers. From the Czech and Slovak environment, I like Nehera, now under the creative direction of Monika Drápalová, and I am a big fan of Bára Procházková – Project Sapience, Lenka Vacková – Textile Mountain, Mia Jadrná or Linda Havrlíková.

Where do you see the future of fashion in ten or fifteen years?

In increased responsibility for its production. Definitely more ecological, ethical and local, and perhaps in a different format and approach than the way we consume fashion now, i.e. in increased consumer responsibility.

The Best in Design competition is a stepping stone for young and emerging designers, do you have any advice for those who would like to give it a go next year?

Give it a try!