Lara Zwaan knows her thing and we totally appreciate the simple way she explains her vision. “The first time I really started to think about wanting to become a fashion designer was when I participated in the local finals of a competition for teens, called ‘Kunstbende’. The Jury asked me if I wanted to go study design or if I was just doing it for fun. This made me think about what I wanted to do, and become in the future… Since then I went to the open house of some fashion design schools in The Netherlands, but because I have a German mom, I also considered looking in Germany. So after visiting some schools I set my sights on the AMD Akademie Mode & Design in Düsseldorf. To be honest it was the only school I applied for and luckily I got to go there.
I think the education I got there was of course focused on Fashion design but we also learned a lot of technical skills. For me it was the right kind of school, not too ‘extravagant’ but we still had the freedom to do and design what we wanted.
My label still has a very young history because I’ve only graduated in February 2018. But I can describe my style as pretty classic, but with a twist. I love reading and have a thing for fashion history that’s where I get a lot of my inspiration, but not only, and not always. For me the thought and the concept behind the collection or the clothes is really important.”
What’s the concept of your latest collection? My latest collection, my graduation collection is inspired by the traditional clothes of Zeeland (the Netherlands) and especially the region I come from, Walcheren. I’ve always had a thing for the silhouettes, the fabrics, prints and details! It was just so beautifully made and with so much love, that had a big influence on my collection. My goal was to make a modern womenswear collection with a lot of elements from the original clothes combined with modern details and fabrics. I also made sure that the collection had some practical aspects, for example being able to zip the lower part from the coat so you’re left with a jacket… The ‘unpractical’ part from the original clothes was one of the reasons why the people started laying of the costume and started wearing the ‘normal fashion’ of their time. The development of the costume stopped at a certain point a few decades ago and I wanted to show a possible development; how the clothes could look now, modern yet with traditional elements.
What inspires you the most? I think what inspired me the most was the way the clothes were made. Some of the tops were just made out of a square piece of fabric, folded together in the shape they needed to be and from the outside, and on all the pictures I found in books it looked like they consisted of many seems. It was in the local museum ‘Zeeuws museum’ when my guide showed me the clothes and told me some anecdotes that I learned so much new stuff about them. Especially about how and why the clothes were made the way they were made. Those details, not visible or described well in the books, were what I think inspired me the most. It made me realize that I wanted to show those details and so I decided to not hide those pleats and darts but show them on the outside of some pieces of the collection. This is only one example, I could go on and on about all the details!
How does the place you live in affect your design? Well, for this collection, called ZEEUWS, the place I live in, had a great influence on my design. The collection was inspired by the local, traditional costume after all. But I think it is not always the place I live in, it is more the input I got from my family and the way I was raised that affects my design. Movies I watched when I was a little girl, like “Immenhof” or maybe the biggest influence on why I started designing clothes in the first place the “Sisi” movies with Romy Schneider. Those dresses… ! Of course there are more cultural things like going to the theatre, traveling and input like that that affects the way I design. So to answer the question concrete, I think it is a mixture between the places I call home, because for me there are more than one, and the experiences and memories I have, that influence my designs.
What’s the future of fashion according to you? I believe that we need to learn from the way people worshiped and valued clothes, fabrics and all the work that comes with it, before it became a mass product. It may not be the best for the business but it is definitely the best for our environment and so it’s the best for us. I know it is something that has to change slowly and won’t change at once, but I’m an optimist! I can only speak for myself and what I’ve seen in my own class, but I think in this generation there are many of designers who are putting a lot of handwork in their designs.. Designs made with love and time, if we support them, we support the future.
What’s your next project? I’m currently working on some projects, one of them is an idea for a web shop with some products made the way I believe in. But I can’t tell too much about that… I just want to start small and learn a little about how the business side of the fashion industry works, before I ‘throw myself under the bus’ without knowing anything… So I’m just taking it slow. In the mean time I can work on some designs I’ve had in my head for a while and make some things people ordered from my collection.