Friday, March 26, 2010

Interview with Konrad Parol

If you're a regular reader, you may be wondering why I'm posting an interview today, as I tend to post them on Sundays or Mondays (or perhaps you haven't noticed before...). But today's interview is special, and so I'm breaking my non-existent rules. You see, this is my very first interview with a designer of the opposite sex. You may have noticed that not a lot of male designers are featured here, although this isn't a conscious decision on my part. Also, I have only sparingly featured menswear, and only then when it's something that I would wear myself. And so, after featuring some lovely pants by young Polish designer Konrad Parol, I got to thinking about how exactly both a male designer and a designer of menswear may be different from the usual suspects on this blog. Mr. Parol himself was kind enough to entertain my questions, giving you and I both a look into the inner-workings of a lovely individual who knows a bit about both of these categories...


How did you first become interested in design, and what is your formal background?
I don’t remember how it exactly started. I was always manually gifted, but my focus on fashion started in high school. I wanted to create something that combined high-art and everyday art, for people...something that would live it’s own life and evolve... After graduating high school, I finished a two-year degree at a school that didn’t give me a strong technical background and didn’t really shape my individual style as a designer. While studying at Art Studio, I did a one-year internship at the Atelier of Maciej Zien, one of the most famous Polish fashion designers. I also worked as a costume designer for Polish music videos. Although I was working in the fashion industry, I had a strong feeling that I could do more, be more creative. I designed two womenswear collections, which were noticed in Poland and Japan. After finishing the internship, I worked for two years as a designer and producer of sport shoes in China, and after that I worked as a womenswear designer at a big fashion house in Warsaw. I am currently a womenswear designer for a young contemporary Polish brand and a creative director at my own company. I have been creating menswear collections for almost a year, what gives me much more satisfaction than womenswear. Moreover, I am the first faithful customer of my own brand.

What is the very first piece you remember designing?
The first garment I ever designed was a dress made from ping-pong balls. I don’t remember what inspired me, but probably I was just really bored with all the other classes and needed to focus my mind on something else than studying…

Do you wear your own designs?
Of course, totally! As I said earlier, I am my first customer and I love it! I wear everything I design because until now, whenever I went shopping, I couldn’t find interesting menswear anywhere. Since I started designing for guys, I don’t need to worry about what I’m going to wear.  ;)

What is your favorite: ...piece of clothing?
Lately I have been obsessed with sweatshirts, coats, and t-shirts, and everything that comes with a hood. I am absolutely addicted to hoods. I design with myself in mind, because what I can find in stores is very predictable, and I need something unique.

...material to work with?
My favourite fabrics for the current collections are all types of jersey. I feel bewitched by jersey, it is very fluid and easy to drape. A big plus is the fact that it is natural, bio-degradable, and consequently environmently-friendly, what is very important nowadays. to work to?
Music is always present when I create my collections. My recent favourite is Caribou – his latest CD. It is absolutely marvelous - its psychedelic, funky, dreampop vibe will strongly influence my new collection. Lately I mixed Caribou with Nina Simone and got my favourite cocktail...yummy.

It is really hard for me to pick one, there are so many fantastic designers I admire. Especially Damir Doma, Gareth Pugh, Nicolas Ghesquière, Raf Simons, and many others.

What inspires you most while creating?
I am my own greatest inspiration; more precisely, I am the focal point of everything that surrounds me. Everything depends on the moment, time of the day, my mood. My needs are what's most important and they are the ones that push me in the right direction and bring me ideas of what to design next. I am also really inspired by the street life, its rhythm and heartbeat.

Do you think that it is more or less challenging as a male to be a fashion designer?
I don’t know what it feels like to be a female designer, so I can’t really compare. ;) I know that fashion design is not an easy profession: every season you have to prove to yourself and to others how good you are, and you’re only as good as your most recent collection. Only a few chosen people will manage to be successful in the fashion world, you need to work really hard to reach your goals. The most important things are: passion, determination, and a bit of luck.

Do you prefer to design womenswear or menswear?
I was designing womenswear for many years and I definitely prefer designing for men. It is much more fun and gives me more satisfaction, especially the fact that I get to make clothes for myself. Moreover, I think that menswear is generally a niche market, not only in Poland. I feel that designing for men is a bigger challenge and also gives me a greater satisfaction because men are much more demanding than women. I still design for women sometimes, but only made-to-order single items.

What do you think about women (like me!) wanting to wear your menswear?
Hahahaha…this is really funny. Since I started designing menswear, I have more female than male customers. Women think that my designs are unisex and enjoy wearing them. For me it is definitely not a problem, but another reason to be happy that my designs are above sex differences, they’re universal. I want more women like you around me. ;)

What is your favorite experience so far as a designer?
It is really hard to say... The two years of work in China are probably my nicest memory. It was then when I started being fascinated with Asia. The food, art, fashion, and society is so completely different from ours. I am absolutely in love with Chinese culture. I hope that my best fashion experiences are still to come.

What is your favorite piece from your newest collection?
I am at a stage of creating the new collection, so it is difficult for me to say what will be my favourite piece. For the moment it is a GIGANTIC sweatshirt with a huge hood. The whole front is covered with metal eyelets. It is absolutely incredible, I can hide in it completely and escape reality.

What is up next for your label?
I want to present the collection during Fashion Week Poland at the beginning of May. I am also planning a fashion show in July and possibly another one abroad. I don’t want to give away all the details, as not everything has been confirmed yet. Right now I want to focus on getting closer to the moment, in which I will be able to focus completely on my own brand and will not have to work for someone else. Constant growth and worldwide expansion is my main goal and dream. For now, keep watching my progress and cross your fingers for all my dreams to come true.


So, does that answer any questions for you? My curiosity is satiated for a bit. And I still want Konrad's pants. Keep an eye on this one by regularly clicking here and here.

Top photo: Designer's own
2nd row: Photographs by Krzysztof Wyzynski
3rd row: Photographs by Olga Szynkarczuk
Last photos: Photographs by Pawel Kowalik

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