MINNA PALMQVIST INTERVIEW
Story/ Koko Ntuen
Images/ Press, Courtesy of Minna Palmqvist
When I meet Minna Palmqvist it’s after the SS15 presentation of her eponymous fashion label at Stockholm’s Fashion Week. Her bright, red-lipstick smile is on full display, much like the high-braided ponytail she wears on top of her head. She is wearing one of her own pieces, a flowing white silk garment with black arrow patterns every which way, and she is glowing.
She should be. Her presentation was one of the most creative and interesting I have ever seen. Much like an avant-garde theatre piece that makes you think about things on a Freudian level, her models wore her highly conceptual but wearable garments while applying lipstick haphazardly in mirrors, backs turned to the audience while observing us at the same time. It was trippy and enchanting.
The Finnish-born Stockholm resident began her line in 2009 and has since been nominated for the Mercedes Benz Young Fashion Industry Awards in Stockholm (2011), won the Who’s Next Young Designer Contest (2012) in Paris, and been in the finals of the T-Force International Fashion Awards in Guangzhou, China (2012). She has also had her clothes worn by official pop goddess of all of Sweden, Robyn.
Minna Palmqvist’s concept began with the idea of “Intimately Social,” which focused on the complicated clashes between the socially-accepted female body and the real fleshy bodies we inhabit. *Not Just A Label* describes her new collection: “Intimately Social 12.14, is a story of a woman who is both fact and fiction, so tangled up she does not always know what is what. The work takes as its starting point the contradictory, and quite frankly ridiculous, advice we are given on our beauty routines and our behaviour. This collection is more graphic than before, marking the models.”
Her line inspires the artist and dreamer in all those that dare to drape her clothes around the body, a superhero cloak of sorts. I got a chance to talk to Minna about her line and get inside the head of this illustrious designer.
Why are you a designer?
Because I think in shapes. Design, art, form, fashion – whatever you want to call it – is how I express my thoughts and things I find interesting, beautiful or disturbing.
What was your first memory of an outfit you really loved?
Oh, I remember a denim jacket I got from my dad when I was 11. It had floral sleeves. It just made me feel great.
What was the first garment you ever made?
I guess a fleece jacket in school at age 13. Then I started making a lot of my own clothes at 16. Skate-influenced trousers with an extremely low waist was my favourite – I made it over and over again in different colours.
Konstfack has such a great reputation for the arts – what did you gain most from studying there?
I most definitely gained the self-confidence to see myself as an artist. When I was accepted to the textile master program I was in shock, since I never thought I would make it to art school. I did my bachelor in Turku, Finland, in a very traditional clothes-making education, very technical and old fashioned, so Konstfack was a huge leap for me.
For a full year I was terrified and confused, but for my second and last year the methods of Konstfack made me find my way as an artist, and I am still working with the same theme and concept that I came up with for my graduate project.
Can you tell me about your first project Intimately Social? How do you feel you have grown since then?
Do you specifically mean the Intimately Social 4.09 project with the pink balloon installation? This was a piece I made specifically for a group exhibition curated by Fashionplay (www.fashionplay.org). I wanted to capture the feeling a lot of women have towards their body, as much bigger and clumsier than it is, as an object impossible to control. I also wanted to capture the change that is inevitably happening to our bodies, and to do so in a humorous way. This is a piece I have become very proud of, since it has been exhibited both in the exhibition *Wonderingmode* in Torun Center of Contemporary Art in Poland in 2011 and just now recently in *The Future of Fashion is Now* in Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam. Both times alongside idols such as Hussein Chalayan, Rei Kawakubo and Margiela.
What social commentary would you add today about fashion, art and the female body?
I am interested in raising discussions about how we still, in 2015, look at the woman and her body as something that is there to please others, not themselves. Why is it so difficult for us to just let people be the way they feel their very best? This also of course goes for other genders than the one we call female. Why are we so keen to place people into boxes?
I think that mix comes from the state of mind I find myself getting inspired by – the mental state of feeling strong and scared, and perfect and insecure and professional and as a clown, all at the same time. Our personalities and identities are floating, and that is something I am very interested in capturing in my work. There should always be options. The fluid or the strict. Or something in between.
Your models are always so dynamic and interesting, what goes into casting?
Me and my stylist Nicole Walker do a lot of Facebook, and Instagram, stalking, haha. It is very important for us to find a good group dynamic, where each individual has something to bring, but together they form a dynamic and interesting group. Again, I am not interested in creating clones. I want to show how the clothes I make change and come to life in different ways on different wearers.
When you design clothes do you have a person or specific type of person you think of?
Always a person on the edge. A person that do not mind wearing a mix of pajama, sportswear, suits, floral high heels and hairy goat slippers all at once, or each direction of those styles on separate days.
Robyn weasr your clothes – who else would you like to dress?
Oh yes, we just did this design for Robyn that turned out great!, and we will make another one. Tilda Swinton is another long-time dream.
You have had a lot of accolades. What did you feel when you first started getting praise for your work?
Just pure bliss and humility. And of course a huge “YESSSSSSSS!” deep inside. Without those loving words it would be hard to find the strength to keep on keeping on. Right now, after my show, I am in love with so many people!
What other projects would you like to work on?
I am working on an art project right now actually, to be exhibited later this spring. It has to do with the tailor bust we designers work on when we create the clothes. Very much looking forward to that!
Otherwise I would love to do more collaborations with people who’s work inspire me. Any ideas, just bring them on!
What goes into the concept of your fashion show?
I wanted to create a space for my girls, where they were looking after themselves and each other, not looking for anyone else’s validation. A space of sisterhood and a space to feel strong, scared, crazy or whatever feeling one might have at the moment.
What is your favourite thing about being a designer?
The feeling when one gets the best idea ever. And the moment I see that idea come to life. Everything in between I could sort of live without actually haha.
What is one piece that you want to wear everyday?
What does your closet look like?
With my SS15 collection I have promised myself am going to start wearing my brand full on, since this is the first full collection production I made. But right now my closet is a sad small pile of worn out clothes. I can’t find the energy to update it at the moment.