The Shape of Design - Design Bureau


The Shape of Design

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

“As a self-taught designer, I work differently…more like a sculptor or an architect. I used to be a writer for popular women’s magazines before I became involved with fashion. Maybe there are still some hidden stories in my mind, which, one day, I will translate into wearable things.

In the early ’90s, without a plan, my family and I moved to Southern France. I did not like the fashion there. One day I  discovered beautiful fabrics in a tiny store in town and was struck by the idea making clothing out of them. It took me a while before I succeeded in making my first dress, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. 

All of the inspiration exists in my mind. As a result, sometimes the outcome is decadent, sometimes crazy or exciting, sometimes artistic, sculptural, seductive, but never boring. Life is boring with all its rules, and a lot of people think they have to live and dress to be everybody’s darling. Or even worse—to disappear in the crowd, to be invisible. I wanted to be different.”

Elke Walter, as told to Jennifer Brunner

Q&A with Elke

Your designs not only hang in some of the finest boutiques, but are also seen on the stage and in museums. How did you became involved with the performing arts and art scene?

Somebody told somebody about my work, handed over some photos, and then Xin Peng Wang, a Chinese choreographer working in Germany, called and asked me to design for his ballet, War and Peace, in Dortmund.

Do you believe men’s fashion can be as influential as women’s fashion?

Yes, but most men are much more conservative than women. Their garments do not only have to look beautiful, but they have to be practical at the same time. We are planning [the launch] of our men’s line this year. Maybe this will be a new kind — revolutionary and influential.

How do you think technology will influence fashion in the coming years?

Technology has changed the fabric world. Today we can have a silk-looking dress made from polyester or any other yarn that has much more positive properties than the natural yarn. For so long we have focused on the “green” side of natural materials; the new green should respect the recyclability of materials. Recycled polyester is just the beginning. A lot of new technologies are already used in interior design — why shouldn’t they be suitable for fashion? 

What else do you have in the works?

A basic line called TOKYO made out of a sheer black Japanese micro-fiber and the ADAN collection, with easy to wear pieces all wrapped in different black and white fabrics. Also, I’m designing a new line consisting of only cocktail and evening dresses. And some one-of-a-kind pieces. And I’m working on bags. And still have a men’s line on my mind…

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