Our new exhibition started this week. The Austrian footwear designer, Carolin Holzuber presents her latest, (UN) COVER, collection at the YKK London Showroom. The exhibition will be on display until 4th October.
Carolin’s exhibition on display in YKK London Showroom, August 2017.
The first time we met Carolin was back in 2014 during London College of Fashion Artefact exhibition. It was a cold February evening and we were even thinking of skipping the exhibition all together. How glad we are we didn’t!
We spotted Carolin’s stand almost immediately, although it was located at the back of the room. Her ‘double shoes’ (as we called them) grabbed the attention: it was something new, fresh and so different. We start chatting about design, International Talent Support competition (which later that year Carolin would go on to be a finalist in), and we have been in touch ever since.
Carolin Holzhuber, London College of Fashion Artefact exhibition, 2014
So when last year Kei Kagami, our YKK Europe Ambassador, wanted to present Carolin’s latest collection in our Showroom, it came as no surprise that the all our team was over the moon.
Shortly before the exhibition, we caught up with Carolin to discuss her work, inspiration behind her designs and plans for the future.
- How did you become interested in the fashion industry?
I always wanted to do something in my life where I can draw two-dimensional, but at the same time create something three-dimensional. During high school I always did sketches of clothes in all of my books, my parents realized that and gave me books about fashion illustration. So I started copying them and that was how I practiced in my free time. When I applied for my BA in Fashion in Vienna I, I was sure I wanted to be a fashion designer. At that point I did not even think about shoes. But in our first term we had to try out four different workshops including shoemaking, cloth making, millinery and knit wear. I was fascinated by the handcraft of making footwear, all the little steps and detailed works that makes a shoe complete. Also I fall in love with the wonderful material leather, the smell, the touch and what you are able to create with this material. After my BA I moved to London and held two internships at the brands Atalanta Weller and FINSK. Both internships were great experience but I always had the dream of my own footwear brand, so I decided to start the MA Fashion Footwear course at LCF to improve my handcraft skills and to build up a network.
- Who/what inspires you?
I have this inner need to create and that leads me to see inspirations everywhere. When I start working on a new collection I collect impressions, moments, smells, images actually really everything. At this time my senses are even more sensitive and I observe situations more into details. My brain start acting like a sponge that collects as much information as possible and then when it comes to sketching in squeeze this sponge and filter this collected information.
In my past, the human body with all its variation and hidden beauty influenced my work a lot. For my latest collections I moved a bit away from that source, towards political statements that I want communicate with my work. The concepts behind each collections are about conflicts, either inner conflicts with myself or conflicts towards our society and our systems.
- What is your greatest accomplishment to date? (including any awards or qualifications or key fashion figures who have started to notice the brand)
My brand CAROLIN HOLZHUBER was shortlisted for the DEUTSCHE BANK AWARD for Creative Enterprises in 2014. I was among the 10 finalists at the INTERNATIONAL TALENT SUPPORT 2014 in the category Accessories.The brand Carolin Holzhuber received an award from the Austrian governmental department for Art and Culture (BMUKK) in November 2014.
Also I was nominated for the ARTS & CRAFTS DESIGN AWARD 2015.
Furthermore it was definitely an honor for me to work on the collaboration with Iris van Herpen for her SS17 couture show in Paris. It a very interesting experience from which I have learned a lot.
So far the greatest moment in my career was when Erykah Badu reached out to me and ordered shoes for herself and finally the moment when I could meet her in person in London. She is not only a wonderful musician/artist but also a great personality, with incredible energy.
- What are your professional aspirations?
Of course I have many plans for my brand and goals that I want to reach, but at the moment I can´t reveal them all. You will have to follow me step by step.
- What is the core theme of the collection?
My latest collection called (UN)COVER is a question towards our society, and why religion and political systems still want to control how women dress. The policing of women’s bodies and the control that women face in regards to sexuality both come in to play in my latest pieces. The commonplace phrase “less is more” therefore works for either representation of culture where the revealing of less skin can be interpreted as a combat against the hyper-sexualization of women, while less coverage is at times a form of rebellion in modern feminism.
(UN)COVER comments on a tense political climate and global issue, which now more than ever has come to the forefront of popular culture. With this collection I wanted to offer to my audience what so many women believe they do not have: a choice in how they wish to be represented and understood.
With pieces that are inspired by women clothed in burkas alongside pieces reminiscent of bare flesh through strategically placed straps and soft Nappa, calf, and patent leathers, I want to give the option of either being daring or modest.
- Please could you provide more information on your creative process? (possibly including any research you needed to undertake or key influencers)
My aim is always to create new structures or to develop unusual forms and shapes. But at the same time the connection between shapes, forms and details is important in order to find a balance. I start with little hand sketches. Paper is patient. For drawing I like to use this phrase in a positive way. When designing I let my mind and creativity free and everything seems possible. And if the opposite has not been proven the sketch becomes a real object. I produce every shoe with my own hands in my workshop. My products are completely different to many other luxury brands where shoes are still a mass product. Each shoe has its own soul and is made with love.
I was always and I always will be impressed and influenced by people with artistic talents and how they use it to change, impact and even improve the aesthetic of the world we live in. Also I don’t have one muse, for me the human body itself is a muse.
- Who is the collection aimed at?
My work is for customers who value and understand the difference between a product that is produced in a factory and a handcrafted object. It is for shoe lovers but also for art lovers and collectors. My aim is to build a bridge between fashion and art. The more wearable shoes in my collections are for customers who are brave enough to wear a shoe that delivers a message.
For more information please check Carolin’s website:
Please also check our social media channels: