Originally from the German city of Mainz, designer Paula Knorr has lived in London since graduating from the Royal College of Art. After her graduation, Knorr worked as a freelance designer before founding her eponymous label in 2015. She was awarded NewGen sponsorship – one of the most coveted international talent schemes – by the British Fashion Council and presented her spring/summer 2017 collection at London Fashion Week. Her spring/summer 2019 designs play with the contrast between volume and fitted silhouettes, and she specialise in women’s eveningwear. We talk to the designer after she presented her upcoming collection.
When did you first become interested in design?
I knew that I wanted to create clothes from a really young age. I was always sketching and sewing outfits for my little sister. Growing up in a very artistic household – my parents are both artists and illustrators – I naturally saw fashion as an art form and for a long time did not see the commercial side of it.
What inspires your collections?
My main intention in my designs is to put the woman in the foreground, not the clothes. It’s all about her body, her movement and her personal beauty. This interaction and balance between the body and the garments is essential. Details, prints, etc come second. That’s why I never start by drawing my ideas. I have to drape and preferably create them directly on a real body to explore how they interact.
What are the key things you learned from studying fashion design?
My BA in Germany taught me a lot of skills: pattern cutting, grading, sewing. I am trained as a bespoke tailor as well. Without this foundation I couldn’t have started my own label. I have to supervise my team in so many fields!
My MA from the Royal College of Art taught me to concentrate my work on something that truly defines me and that there is no design without vision and being true to your own passions.
How has your background influenced your designs?
I am from a small village in Germany near the river Rhine, which is about a 40-minute drive from Frankfurt. There was not much fashion to find there, but my parents are illustrators and studied art, and a lot of their friends are artists or have creative jobs. I grew up surrounded with a lot of support for my artistic ambitions.
What would you be if you weren’t a designer?
I love to create products – something in 3D perhaps – so I probably would always have been a designer or an artist.
How would you describe your brand’s aesthetic?
I play with the impact of intimacy and sensuality in female dressing.
For me, womenswear, especially eveningwear, today ranges from extreme nudity to demure precision. I wanted to create a collection which showcases my vision of empowered and sensual dressing. Dramatic shapes in luxurious fabrics which are easy to wear and comfortable.
How would you describe your own personal style?
Every day I am surrounded by so much sparkle and so many sequins that I don’t really feel like wearing them myself all the time. I wear a lot of black, but I love sparkly shoes and I collect vintage crystal jewellery.
Your SS19 show was as glamorous as ever and the clothing seemed to be influenced by 1970s disco. What inspired your latest collection?
It’s always about trying to find a new idea of eveningwear. I don’t think I have to change it drastically from season to season. For SS19 I was thinking a lot about shapes and how to work with volume. We worked with very different textures, from extremely matte cottons and viscose, and these super sparkly tulle fabrics and lamés, which offered big contrasts as well.
The collection should appeal to the different personalities and ethnicities of women who are now starting to wear my garments, and this collection is a tribute to them.
Which destination inspires you the most?
I love travelling in general. I’m always in and out of London and this has a strong influence on my collections.