Polish-born designer Karolina Zmarlak presented her Fall/Winter 2012 collection during fashion week at the Soho House. Inspired by the Matadora – Spanish bullfight known for its aesthetics and social politics, Karolina’s hauntingly beautiful collection evokes power, strength, masculinity and femininity.
Karolina brings a dark twist on “power dressing” by using geometric lines, asymmetrical cuts, exotic animal-like head pieces and leather. The collection consists of an array of cut-and-sewn silk wool and cotton adorned A-line skirts, wrap dresses and tailored jackets. One of her most startlingly beautiful pieces of the FW12 collection was the creme dress with a hand painted red smear of what looks like blood down its side. To find out more about the collection and designer, check out my interview with Karolina below.
I’ve read that you were inspired by bullfighters and the politics of Spain – why were you drawn to these ideas at this time?
We are in a period where I believe women are taking on more and more power in today’s globalized system, and the matadora is an agile, sophisticated analogy of feminine acumen and beauty. My business partner, Jesse Keyes, is a designer and architect who studied and developed his aesthetic in Spain, so he’s introduced me to the ceremonial and, really, feminine force in the Spanish bullfight.
Your past collections also had that haunting and powerful feel to them – would you say that is your signature style?
Yes, women need to be more stealthy than men: to be powerful, while maintaining mystery and seduction. My clothes express this belief.
Who is the Karolina Zmarlak woman you are designing for?
Global, mature, in control yet wily, clever and captivating
This is one of your most experimental collections – animal like head pieces, interesting fabrics and textures – what were some key fabrics, textures and images that you focused on when designing the collection?
The head pieces were designed by Ashley Lloyd in collaboration with the “Matadora” vision. I like to work with techy Japanese and Italian fabrics that show interesting texture and versatility. I painted the blood smear and had it printed on organza and 4ply crepe to link the inspiration more directly with the line. The fabrics were based on both the masculine and feminine of the bull fighter, with the more structured wools and cotton shirting versus the lighter textured silk jacquards and wool blended weaves.
Where else can we find Karolina Zmarlak pieces?
SSENSE.com (though we’re sold out for FW11 collection, our SS12 collection is on its way) and Stanley Korshak.
Where do you hope to see your brand and career in the next 5 years?
On globalized, powerful and forward looking women throughout the globe. Since we are always moved by the architecture of clothing design: cutting, details and silhouettes that envelope a woman to afford her gestures of structured movement and control, we’ll look to open retail stores that spatialize our clothing aesthetic.