A Polish designer Magda Butrym has entered the fashion world with a full force – despite having created her eponymous label only three years ago (an equivalent of baby steps for fashion brands), she’s considered to be one of the favorites when it comes to discussing the most promising names. In addition to that, her clothes are already worn by such famous models as Anja Rubik or Kendall Jenner. We visit Magda in her showroom during Paris Fashion Week to discuss her incredible journey.
Magda, you represent a new generation of designers coming from Poland and other similar countries, which are not really considered to be an Olympus of fashion gods. Do you feel this new, fresh breeze in the fashion, is announcing a more welcoming nod to creators like you?
Yes, I know what you’re talking about! In the fashion industry, it’s definitely more difficult if you’re from Poland or other small countries (especially from Eastern Europe), but I feel that we’re giving certain freshness, something completely new. I didn’t finish a well-known fashion school, just a simple school in Poland, and I’ve basically learnt everything by myself. 20 years ago, Poland was a communist country; fashion industry was inexistent, so in such context you must learn and search for inspiration yourself, push the barriers all the time. It’s not easy, but this way you appreciate every success and it gives you so much power to work more! The best thing is that I have a certain feeling that designers like me aren’t self-conscious about this fact anymore, we’re assured that we’re capable of doing anything and it doesn’t matter where we’re from.
Your brand is a really young one – it was born only in 2014 and just in three years’ time you’re in Paris Fashion Week. How could you describe your journey up until this moment?
When I opened the company, my goal wasn’t to show collections in Paris – when you’re from Poland, you don’t usually think about that, because nobody succeeded to get in here before. The way everything kicked off for me is quite funny: some years ago, I came to Paris with my boyfriend. It was Fashion Week here and I was wearing my clothes in a restaurant, where I accidentally met Kim Kardashian. She just came to me and asked about my skirt. After that, I made a skirt for her and it was such a marketing bomb when she appeared with it in public. You can like Kim or not, but she’s really influential and powerful – I remember that she wrote something on Instagram about the skirt and a lot of shops reached out for us asking where they could buy the pieces. It was the first time a thought of trying my luck in Paris came into my head. Next season we came in the city and had 3-4 meetings, which was basically nothing so we left after two days, but after that I felt that I wanted more, so why not? The Spring/Summer collection that followed was a breakout because we had lots of meetings and we spent a whole week here in Paris. I have to add that Instagram also really helped to showcase (and also get track of) celebrities who were wearing my clothes, such as Anja Rubik. Last season our clothes achieved 89 shops!
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Handcraft is really important for your brand, isn’t it?
Yes, I’m trying to mix handcraft with details borrowed from menswear, for example I make big shoulder pads in suits and then I put some handcraft to make it look more feminine. This is my own way of mixing these two worlds and this is also the core idea for my company. I think that good advice for young designers is not to open the company until you have a very clear idea how to be different. Try working for other companies; search for your own style and on which direction you’d like to concentrate. I’m happy that I waited quite long (I had been working in fashion in Poland 10 years before launching my own brand), and during my first seasons I was still searching for my own identity. This is the season when I’m finally 100% sure that I know who my woman is, I’m not doing a revolution each season, just an evolution of my style and designs that I had already made before. I feel really peaceful with my collection now when it’s my second time in Paris.
Could you tell us more about ideas behind your newest collection?
The two collections that I made before this one were about romance mixed with punk details, where masculine styles were matched with feminine ruffles, silks, handcraft. For F/W17 I’m trying to make it all even more confident – I was watching the 80s and the feminist movement for the inspiration. I was searching for the girls in the past: how they looked like, what kind of music they listened to and after my research I tried to make it more modern, deconstructed. For example, if I design two arms I make one really big and another one not so pompous. To tell the truth, this season I’m trying to play with it, to have some fun in the process, that’s why I was interested in the atmosphere of the eighties – I feel that it’s very important for fashion to be fun, especially in the current context.
You mentioned the feminist movement and the women power. With so many debates around the notions of femininity and feminism nowadays, I couldn’t not ask you: what do these words mean to you?
I feel that a lot of people think that feminism is about putting a girl in a suit and it’s not that at all; it’s about attitude. For me feminine is a woman who knows the world that she’s living in, she has this awareness of what’s happening around her. Femininity is not about the ruffles or mini skirts, just like feminism is not about sharp suits or short hair. It’s this awareness of the world, having your own voice, your own opinion.
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Your brand is dedicated to “demanding women who seek unique, highest quality pieces”. What kind of other qualities does this woman have?
The thing I know for sure is that she’s very open-minded. We’re a new brand and not necessarily a very well known one so this woman must like fashion and constantly search for new things if she’s already found our clothes. She is also aware of what she wants, she’s confident. I know that women wearing my clothes are always noticed in the crowd (I have found out this from my clients), but it’s not as if they’re showy, screaming or vulgar, it’s because a woman wearing my clothes sincerely likes them. I’m still working on the brand and its image – when you’re going to Dior, you already know what kind of women you’re going to meet there, and for me it’s still a period of experimenting… I’m designing for a woman who wants pieces in her wardrobe that have this timelessness quality, that will stay in her wardrobe for a really long time, they’re not ‘trendy’. Every season I fall into a certain trend but the jackets, the dresses I design have this long-lasting quality and I also believe that the handcraft has soul, which makes my clothes beautiful. I think that pieces with the handcrafted details are really, really special.
What are the other designers that you’re watching and whose creations you like?
I always watch the big brands and I really like that they’re taking young designers to work for them, like Anthony Vaccarello for Saint Laurent or Jonathan Anderson for Loewe. It’s a really fresh thing. Talking about my favorite designers, I like Celine very much. Phoebe Philo designs things that are so noble and special – you could never go wrong with her. But I also try not to watch too much because then you’re always under the influence of someone.
What are your ambitions for the future?
I really want to make shoes for my brand. I made some of the shoes that you can see here (boots, mules) but next season I want to launch a small collection. In personal life, I want to have a family and to work a little bit less because these recent three years have been really difficult – it’s been all about work.
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