Meet Desirée Slabik, the 28 year old German designer who is carving a reputation for creating tactile, graphic and conceptual collections. Currently a womenswear concept designer at Hugo Boss in Stuttgart, Desirée graduated from the MA Fashion Design Technology Womenswear course at the London College of Fashion in December 2015. A subsequent internship at Celine in London followed, as well as her boldly brilliant collection ‘Life After People’ been shown at London Fashion Week. We chat to Desirée about her time at the London College of Fashion and her ‘Life After People’ collection to hear more about her inspirations and techniques.
The Fashion Conversation: Inspired by a post-apocalyptic, future perspective vision of the world where the human race has disappeared, your graduate collection “Life After People” was nominated to be shown at London Fashion Week, can you please tell us more about the inspiration of behind your mesmerising collection?
Desirée Slabik: The name ‘Life After People’ refers to the title of an American documentary series where experts discuss how the world could look like if the population disappears. Indeed, it was the starting point for the story of my collection. The key vision I had in mind was based on a white clean architecture landscape illuminated by vibrant fireworks, with flora growing all over the human constructions, creating a paradise of colours. In my vision, human beings have vanished from earth, and finally vegetation has its territory back. It focuses on the very positive power of life and the symbiosis of every organism living next to each other.
TFC: You created incredible pieces in your graduate collection, using a variety of techniques and a lot of silk. Can you please share with us the process behind your work, a process you’ve described as demi-couture?
DS: All in all, I worked for 6 months in total from the initial concept development, first drapes and sketches to the final manufactured collection pieces. The starting point in my design process is to create a textile idea in a certain technique, knitwear or embroidery so I am always developing my own textile surface or reworking one. Then I collage it around the body to play with different shapes. I really do like to experiment. It is an easy, playful, and intuitive way of designing. After I’ve got a shape, I try to define it more within my concept and develop graphic, clean patterns. For my “Life After People” collection, I used meters and meters of silk organza. I knitted the base and dyed the silk different colours and shades of colours, and then wove it into the knit. It was a very time-consuming procedure! This is why I even define my garments as demi-couture.
TFC: What attracted you to the London College of Fashion and what were some of the most important things you learnt?
DS: It was always a dream for me to study my postgraduate course abroad. I was attracted to London as it is a huge inspiration source and London College of Fashion is one of the top universities. I also felt very connected to the London College of Fashion when I went there for the personal interview during my application period and they have an excellent equipment, great technical support and dedicated tutors. I’ve learnt a lot during my MA and it has been a fantastic place to deepen my sensitivity for my individual aesthetics. The technicians and our tutors were great in helping to focus and deepen our strengths, while simultaneously encouraging us to think outside the box and comfort zone. Every project was a new challenge and helped develop our specific design DNA and enlarge our skill set. I also learnt a lot from my classmates, it was very special to have a multicultural mixed class and I am really thankful meeting so many unique and inspirational characters.
TFC: You are currently working as a womenswear concept designer at Hugo Boss, what are your plans for the future?
DS: I just want to keep going and learn new ways of designing, meet interesting people, see inspiring exhibitions and maybe one day start my own brand.