Let’s talk about Ragna Sigridur Bjarnadottir, born and raised in Reykjavik, Iceland. She is a young fashion designer. She currently lives in Copenhagen where she just finished her MA degree at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Design.
Where does your passion come from? I have always had a huge interest in fashion and clothing and how people use clothing as a means of self expression and to decorate their bodies. I have been drawing and making garments since I was little and am fascinated by both how garments change the shape of the body and the attitude of the person wearing them. Fashion is the only wearable artform and one where art, design and personality merge into one. I am also very interested in how gender is translated through clothing, how we connect certain garments to certain genders and how fashion is different between the genders.
What’s the concept of your design? I have always been very interested with femininity and how the female is displayed through fashion and clothing. For my latest project I stumbled upon the concept of “Hysteria”, a now outdated medical diagnosis for women. Women in the past were thought to be suffering from hysteria if there was something unexplained wrong with them, both physical and psychological. They were thought to be sick because they were female. Being a woman was an illness in and of itself. I found it very intersting to work with this feeling of not being appreciated and listened to on the same level as a man and the emotional tension inherent in this concept of hysteria. Into this I added research into female stereotypes and the gendered upbringing of girls, the social rules women have to follow and crafts, colors and fabric associated with being female.
Your color choices are so powerful like the shapes. Why so? When I was printing out my first inspiration pictures, images of women in insane asylums, writhing around in their bedsheets, strapped to the bedframe, my printer suddenly ran out of ink so all the pictures came out pink instead of black and white. I though it fitted perfectly. The woman is pink, She is put in her pink box alongside glitter, frilly skirts and pink utensils. I wanted to overexpose the collection to the pink color, to both call out this ridiculous color association but also to show the many many different and beautiful shades and nuances of the pink color. Kind of take it back in a way.
What’s the main difficulty of being a young desiger in the fashion industry? The main difficulty is living off your work. Materials are expensive and designing and making garments is very very time consuming and hard work. It is not like we can just shake new garments out of our sleeves even though we have all these ideas filling up our heads. People don’t appreciate the hard work put into designing and making a garment when you can just go to a high street shop and buy something new for a fraction of the price of something unique. And even if you don’t want to start your own brand as soon as you get out of school, there are so few jobs and those that are there are not well paid. People often end up doing unpaid internships for months, even a year before getting a job.
What do you try to express through your design? For my graduation collection I really wanted to stay true to my concept and to use my own intuition when designing. To allow my hands to take over my head when draping and to do open ended experiments with no way of knowing the exact outcome. My whole silhouette came from draping my own clothes on a child size mannequin, referencing a moment when a girl tries on her mother’s clothes. But it is too much for her, the clothes are too big and heavy and she is suffocating in the social pressures of femininity. When I did the draping I got some results I would have never been able to just sketch out on a piece of paper or in the computer, so some really interesting shapes appeared from the process.
What’s your next project? My next project is applying for jobs as I want to get some more experience working in the industry but I think I will end up starting my own brand at some point. I always have some projects going on on the side, styling, photo and video projects with my designs and freelance technical work. I love collaborating with people with different skills and styles and hope that my Hysteria collection will inspire like-minded people for some exciting collaborations.
Check her out on http://www. ragnabjarna.com or on IG @ragnabjarna