Get to know the designers: Barbara I Gongini

Pushing the limits of basic design principles and key elements of sustainability.

Posted on May 08, 2012
Tags:   Avant-Garde   Barbara I Gongini   Black Line   Copenhagen   Fashion Week   Sustainability   Technical Silk

After months of planning, the day had finally arrived! Our very first showroom - we were in the middle of Copenhagen, in February! The showroom, located in Farmer’s Market, seemed to confuse both us, and the driver - but we pressed on, arriving at the doorway to the beginning of The Feathered.

We had spoken back and forth for quite some time, however it is always so wonderful meeting the person behind all the emails and phone calls. Karin, the commercial director for Barbara I Gongini, brought us upstairs to the showroom/workspace and we fell in love - with everything! We began, slowly at first, trying on every piece as she explained in detail the fabrics and processes the different lines entailed. Each piece begged to be explored, tried on, and explained with clarity how it could be worn in a variety of ways.

“There is more,” she said. We said, “bring it on!” The Black Line, with its delicious fabrics and shocking bursts of color, was designed with subtle and minimal elements in mind. There is a distinct functionality that definitely appealed to us. The Main Line was created to “take you on a journey from one dimension to the third.” This collection uses high-tech silks and hand-knits made from organic cottons and cashmeres. The attention to detail is beautifully appreciated in the attention to detail seen in the fabrics.

Hours had flown by and we were about to head off to one of the fashion shows, when Barbara had arrived to say hello. A more beautiful woman, both spiritually and physically, one could not imagine. We spoke for some time about our concept and goals, and when we all realized the time, she had offered us a ride to the show. The perfect ending to a list of many firsts!

Q & A:

TF: When we met you in Copenhagen, at your showroom, you were such a breath of fresh air, so hospitable and kind.  You had such a wonderful aura, you were our introduction to Denmark. You are very hands-on with everything associated with your brand — how important do you think it is to maintain such a great deal of involvement in every aspect of each collection?
BG: For us it is of utmost importance to maintain the highest involvement both with clients, and to protect our brand DNA through every collection. I, Barbara, started my collection with the Avant-Garde client in mind which is a client that has interest herself/himself in being part of the collection, to live with it and to grow with it.
You are known for your active participation in raising the awareness of sustainability, and have even been nominated for awards for your Ethics.  Do you feel that there should be a stronger focus on the responsibility of designers to follow your lead?
I think sustainability is important for the world. We are all responsible for the future of where we live today. If other designers should follow - for sure the awareness needs to be risen to a new level!
You are from the Faroe Islands, can you tell us a little about what it was like growing up there?
Faroe Islands are comprised of 18 Islands with a total population of 45.000. I grew up in Thorshavn, which is the capital, with 17.000 inhabitants. It is a very artistic place where nature and people goes hand in hand. The weather is uncontrollable and is what actually drives everything on the islands. 
As a designer, you are very much involved within the art and music community.  The artistic side of you comes through in the styling of the shoots for the concept of the brand.  Is there one aspect you favor over the other?
I started out wanting to be an artist and have worked in many different areas of art and design. I love everything that is involved with the aspect of pushing limits within pre-set fields of understanding. 
How did you decide to integrate the BLACK LINE into BARBARA I GONGINI? 
I wanted to create a line which was more accessible for 'everyone' and still give the collection a touch of Avant-Garde.
Your designs are extremely conceptual, yet remain very accessible to every woman.  Do you tend to start the new season with designs for MAIN LINE or does everything happen simultaneously?
Barbara I Gongini is my heart and the Black Line my body... the lines are designed simultaneously - they are marketed differently. Sure, there is a coherence, but it is not necessarily the same end consumer.
For this A/W12 Collection, we get a chance to see a fantastic pop of color in the BLACK LINE.  How did you choose the Dazzling Blue and Blueprint color palette?
I have not worked with blue colors before and find them vibrant and a new carrier element for Avant-Garde
The Tec Silk Group from the MAIN LINE is incredible, is this a BARBARA I GONGINI classic fabric?
We have been working with Technical Silk for some time.  I do not really consider any fabric our classic fabric - but I choose from the texture and the drape it brings to the collection. 
What does your Atelier look like?
My atelier is based in the Farmers Market right outside Copenhagen.  It is industrial, simple, rough and leaves open a possibility to create from the raw atmosphere. 
What is the most significant item in your brand?
All are...
Looking at the collection, one is immediately drawn to the intricacies of the craftsmanship.  There is a mixture of layers and innovative fabrics, yet there is also a balance between femininity and masculinity. Which for you comes first, the inspiration or the materials?
Hard to say. I have been working with the principles of the square and the circle for many years - finding new ways to twist the conventional form into a new structure. Inspiration and materials are a collective thought for me. I do not sketch my collections, I drape - so the development of my styles are a mixture of the fabric and the possibilities they hold within my principles. 
Did you think you were going to become a fashion designer when you grew up?
I wanted to become an artist....
How do you usually go about finding the inspirations for your collections?
In Avant-Garde one normally works with principles and how they can take form. Inspiration comes from my surroundings, my experience and everything that affects me. 
Is the idea of an object influenced by the material?
I would again have to refer back to the square and the circle. If my clothing is laid flat - you will see which shape it has originated from. 
Thrills in life?
I appreciate life in all aspects - thrills are benefits from your way of life.
Which music fits with your style?
That is in the eye of the beholder.

Who else would you like to be?
I am so happy to be me..
If you could be anything besides human, what would it be?
I consider myself being part of the universe - and I always will be.
Something you do differently than most people?
I think we are all different but our main joy in life are the same: life, love, friendship and creativity.
Your dream of happiness?
I am living it.
First thought when waking up?
What is next?
Last thought falling asleep?
Love life.
Why fashion rules your world?
It does not - I do not consider myself a fashion addicted person - I love art and Avant-Garde which is not fashion.  Fashion is a fad - I design ageless clothing.
Best memory of your life?
All memories makes part of who you are - all are equally important.
The Stones or The Beatles?
I take the 5th.
Jackson or Prince?
Taking the 5th again.
One thing you would most like to change about the world?
What are you most grateful for?
Hard to say - gratitude is a wide concept and is given to everyone every day.
Who inspires you?
What is your next project going to be?
More co-labs with artisans.

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