Read my interview with Swedish fashion designer Minna Palmqvist, who finds inspiration for new ideas through letting the perfect surface of fashion meet the crass reality of everyday life and claims that her garments “get their inspiration from the exploitation of the female body within fashion and western society, and symbolize the meeting between the socially accepted body and the fleshy, ever changing body we actually have”.
She launched her self-entitled brand MINNAPALMQVIST in 2009.
Hi Minna, can you tell us a bit about you and when did you get into fashion?
I am a form and concept driven designer based in Stockholm, Sweden. I am originally from Finland, from a small island called Åland, and ended up in Stockholm when I did my masters degree here at Konstfack College of Arts Crafts and Design 2005-2007. I got into fashion when I did my bachelor in clothing in Turku, Finland 2000-2004, or maybe not into fashion, but into the world of clothes. Growing up I did all sorts of creative things, one of them being making my own clothes, but I had no idea you could actually do that for a living until I was maybe 19. I had never met a fashion designer, just seen them in magazines and on TV. When I started the bachelor program I knew I had found my way of expressing my creativity, with the 3-dimensional, sculptural and direct way of working that fashion design is.
Can you describe your latest collection? Did you look at anything specifically for it? Which kind of materials have you been working and experimenting with?
My latest collection is my 8th variation on a fashion design project called Intimately Social, which started as my exam project in Konstfack in 2007. Within this project I obsess on the female body and the way we push and almost torture it to fit into the socially accepted beauty norm. Creating both art installations and garments, I get inspired by the way our fleshy, intimate bodies clash with the socially accepted, skinny fashion body, and I want to incorporate that somewhat hopeless chase into my work. This means for example using the shape of saggy breasts and cellulites, and adding these to high fashion pieces. In this way features that will never make it into the world of fashion, and that we are very embarrassed to talk about, get a chance to shine. In the latest collection, Intimately Social 8.12 (A/W2012), I have been inspired by an art installation I did in late 2010 (https://vimeo.com/14822290) , where I photographed female torso made from 23kg of butter melting for 10 hours. This was a celebration of the ever changing female body, of vanity and the fact that nothing lasts forever. I took the feeling of not being in control of your own body, the melting and the deformation of the sculpture, and translated it into this collection. The materials are heavy and drapey, and I am also using Swedish reindeer nappa to create a feeling of human skin. For the first time since the project started, I have focused more on wearability, and to divide my work more clearly into Atelier made pieces and ready to Wear.
Who wears your creations? Are there specific people you have in mind when you’re designing?
My creations have so far mainly been used for photo shoots, since I have been working on a by-request-only basis. But the interest in my clothes come from strong, design and art interested women from age 18 to 60 with various styles. I actualy don’t think about a specific person when designing – I go all in for the concept.
Is there any celebrity that you would really love to dress?
Dressing Tilda Swinton would really be something. She is the essence of style. But on the other hand it would also be fun to dress M.I.A or Robyn, due to their strong personalities and feminist approach. I would love to see some of my garments in that scene!
How do you define style and how does that manifest itself in your designs? And how would you describe your personal style?
Style is something that comes from the wearer. You can not fake it. It is an aura. I try to make clothes with a long durability style-wise and that can be applied on many different kinds of styles. In that way they stand on their own at the same time they can be interpreted by the wearer. My personal style is a bit slouchy and comfortable, with a mix of long johns and huge pieces of jersey. “Stylish pajama” might be a suitable name for it.
If style could be a place where would it be…?
I think style is always a mix of places. Can’t say.
Who’s your style icon?
I don’t have one icon in particular, I love strong personalities as the ones mentioned before.
Where do you find yourself going when you need a creative boost?
To a café. The smell of coffee and the movement really gets my mind going.
If your collection was a song, which one would it be?
Oh, I never thought about that. But “Feeling Pulled Apart by Horses” by Thom Yorke has a quirky darkness to its beats that I can relate to artistically.
What is IN and what is OUT?
Awareness is in! Shopaholics are out!
And finally tell me something about the place where you are from. What is an absolute ‘must do’ there?
In Åland, you have to go there in the summer and walk barefoot on the warm, red cliffs. That is paradise.
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