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Neil Patrick Grotzinger’s past dedication to painting transpires in his efforts as a fashion designer. After all, his graduation collection from the Pratt Institute featured a series of clean-cut garments that stood out with their handmade multicolour embellishments and hand-painted screen prints, very much like an artist filling a blank canvas. And with Vogue US naming him one of the top 10 fashion graduates to watch, it’s guaranteed he’s going to continue creating what he describes as “wearable works of art”.

Where do you come from and what made you get interested in fashion?

I grew up in a small town in Colorado. I suppose I've always had an interest in fashion. I started sketching out designs in secret when I was very young. It was a way of rebelling against what everyone else I knew liked to do. I grew up in a military town, so most of the kids in my graduating class went on to join the air force, but I knew that there was more out there for me.

How was your experience at Pratt?

Going to Pratt Institute was an amazing experience. I'd never sewn a stitch in my life when I got to college, but the emphasis on construction and craftsmanship at Pratt made me the designer that I am today.

I know you were also a painter... In what way does your artistic background influence your approach to designing and making clothes?

My artistic background is the basis for my aesthetic as a designer. I try to bring elements of craftsmanship into my designs that become some sort of functional works of art. Sometimes I'll incorporate a spontaneous embellishment, or I'll paint my textiles with dyes and inks. The point is to give each garment hints of originality.

Right now, do you see yourself more as an artist or as a designer?

I like to consider myself a modern artist functioning as a practical designer. No matter what it is that I'm making, I'm going to treat it like a work of art. When I make clothes, however, I always have one thing in mind, and that's practicality. As an artist it's easy for me to go overboard and conceptualize the impossible. Design is what keeps me in check.

What is your creative process like?

Typically, I start with an idea for a textile before I design. My fabric treatments are done so spontaneously that it's hard to prepare a design for them before I know how they behave. The fabric is what speaks to me, and then the silhouette comes next.

So, in terms of fabrics... what did you do for this collection?

I experimented with textiles in every way I could come up with. Some of my textiles were hand-painted, and some of them were screen-printed using methods that I've been developing for years. I also explored embellishment and embroidery to create new textures. Every surface in my collection had some sort of innovative technique imposed upon it.

Was there an overall concept? What was it?

The concept for my collection revolved around something I call constructivist expressionism. It's kind of like creating a balance between order and chaos: I wanted my garments to function like minimally-constructed canvases for expressive experiments.

What are you working on at the moment?

I'm currently developing new methods of embellishment for my next collection, and trying to start my own brand.

Where do you see yourself in the future - what do you expect to achieve as an artist and as a designer?

I see myself working in the Couture industry. I love the idea of Couture being this one of a kind. I consider myself a textile innovator and hope to put that skill to use in a big way.

WORDS
VANESSA NUNES

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