I am so excited to publish SBFB's 2nd designer interview, this time with the 2011 Zandra Rhodes Catwalk Textile Award winner Dominique Kral. Dominique's designs focus on knitwear and other-worldly prints and are incredibly inspiring. I was fortunate enough to have the chance to pick her brain, and you can read the conversation below.
I read in a previous interview of yours that your grandmother was a seamstress and your mother was a knitwear designer. That’s a lot of creative energy in one family! How has your family influenced your work as a designer, besides your obvious love of knits?
Without them and the creative environment I have been brought up in I would definitely not be who I am today. I have always had access to creative materials whenever I wanted them and that has definitely encouraged me down the creative path I have taken. My mum is also an artist and I think that has had much more of an influence on me than her knitwear, my other grandmother is probably the bigger influence when It comes to my knitwear, she always seems to be hand knitting (I'm currently wearing a pair of her knitted socks and also a jumper she knitted me about 10 years ago or more). It's very handy to have all these creative types around who I can just ring up and pester about how to do things I'm not sure about.
I love how you gathered inspiration for your graduate collection during a camping trip in the New Forest. Can you tell me more about the experience and what you drew from it?
I go camping every summer and I always have my camera with me. I love taking pictures of everything around me and take inspiration from my photos in my work.
As a young designer and blogger, I realize how easy it is to second-guess yourself and how rapidly your aesthetic can change. For lack of better words, do you feel like you’ve “found yourself” as a designer already, or are you still evolving?
I am definitely still evolving. I think I am a long way from “finding myself”, I can hardly ever find the right pair of scissors when I need them.
So you were the winner of the Zandra Rhodes Catwalk Award in 2011! What an amazing accomplishment! First off, what was your reaction when you won and what does winning that award mean to you?
When I won the award I was convinced I had imagined them saying my name and I had to wait to see what university they said before I went up on stage. Over a year on I still don’t believe it to be honest. I didn’t sleep properly for more than a week after I won because I was convinced I'd dreamt it and if I woke up it wouldn’t be real.
You use natural fabrics and eco-friendly printing techniques in your garments. How important is it to you that your work causes little harm to the environment?
I wouldn’t say I purposefully go out of my way to use environmentally friendly techniques and fabrics, I just prefer the feel of natural fabrics and I like the company where I get my digital print fabrics printed. People seem to really like the concept of eco-friendly fabrics but I don’t feel they are always suitable.
Your Autumn/Winter 2012 collection uses a lot of black knits and kaleidoscopic purple prints. Why did you decide to use these darker colors as opposed to the brighter ones of your previous collections?
My work very much reflects my mood when I design, I take a lot of influence from music and I tend to get through phases of what music I listen to. When I was designing my graduate collection I was listening to a lot of The Handsome Family who are a folky/country band from Chicago. I can't really describe their music though; everyone should just listen to it. Anyway, they inspired the use of green in the collection and the use of bugs. When I was designing for AW12 I had rediscovered my love for Garbage, particularly their first album which is quite dark and a bit depressing which reflected my mood at the time and transferred through into the collection.
While designing for SS13 I was watching a lot of Bollywood films and listening to Die Antwoord. You’ll have to wait and see how that transferred into garments.
[Image credits: (1) Illustration by Dominique Kral, Graduate collection runway image from Sophie Benson, edited by me (2) &(3) Graduate collection and Spring 2012 collection images by Bengt Fashion (4) A/W 2012 collection from Dominique Kral, edited by me]
Special thanks to my friends at Caption London and Dominique Kral! You can learn more about the designer at http://www.dominiquekral.com/