Isabella Falkirk: A recent graduate from the Swedish School of Textiles speaks to Volt Café about the paradoxes of creating a collection while being under a lot of stress and pressure.

Volt Café: Who is Isabella Falkirk; tell us a little bit about yourself.

Isabella Falkirk: That I ended up in fashion was actually really a coincidence. I used to play in a punk-rock band and when we split up, knowing I was not that musically talented I had to come up with something else. Ever since I was a little kid I knew I wanted to do something artistic. I could have been a lot of things; photographer, architect or a cabinetmaker to name a few, but I had to make a decision and the first thing that came up was a preparatory education in tailoring and pattern cutting. It was as described in the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, “When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision”.

VC: Your collection is called ʻUnder Pressure’, tell us about the concept.

IF: The collection is about stress, it’s about work becoming everything, it’s about not being able to separate yourself from your work, it’s about carrying your work with you all the time wherever you go, and in the end it is about me and my process, my stress, my anxieties and the pressure I felt when making this collection.

VC: Designers are constantly under a lot of pressure. How do you manage to stay cool?

IF: I listen to loud noisy music to ignore my thoughts spinning like crazy, joke around to take the edge of and tell myself that it’s just fashion – not saving the world!

VC: In the creative business you often ‘become’ your work. Do you carry your office with you everywhere?

IF: Of course, but as a metaphor. It is in my head.

VC: The fashion industry is moving faster and faster. What is your relationship to ‘fast fashion’ and trends?

IF: Contradictory, I become angry and sad when I think of the consumerism that’s taken over the world, where everything is cheap and replaceable, but on the other hand it’s hard not to get intrigued by it.

VC: You’ve now graduated – the pressure is off. What is the next step?

IF: I don’t think the pressure will go away ever, but it definitely has become less now since I have started to work at H&M. Hopefully I will complete a Master’s Degree in the future and start my own brand and then the pressure will rise again.

VC: Your collection is very clean and minimal, something that has become significant in Scandinavian design. What is your relationship to Minimalism?

IF: I guess Minimalism is part of my genes and my upbringing. There has always been a part of me who wants to take things away to make it cleaner – more pure. I like that there’s nothing to hide behind. But on the other hand there is a part of me who is drawn to “more-is-more”, everything colourful, crazy and kitschy. I think that’s the rebel in me. Ha-ha.

VC: Do you consider Minimalism to be a trend?

IF: Yes and no, its popularity definitely comes and goes but in the end it’s a way of life, isn’t it?

VC: Is fashion still fun, new and innovative?

IF: Yes as longs as it’s about creativity and not blighted with having to make money. That’s why I find it more interesting to look at what other students and underground designers are doing.

VC: Where do you think fashion will be in 10 years time?

IF: Who knows, that’s what fashion is about – not knowing what’s next.

VC: Your 10 favourites

IF: Designer – Anrealage

Style Icon – Never had one

Garment – Overalls

Film – Documentaries

Art – Surrealistic

Music – Lo-fi

Restaurant – Vietnamese

City – Tokyo

Boutique – Hardware stores

Saying – “I’m so happy I’m not sad”

Photographer – Robert Elmengård at Superstudio | Words – Emelie Hultqvist


Emelie Hultqvist, Isabella Falkirk, Robert Elmengård, Superstudio,