Designer Q&A with Agnes
You apprenticed with a number of master craftsmen. Who did you work with and what lessons did you learn?
I was trained by Beata Kania, who is a master embroiderer and has won a prestigious international embroidery competition sponsored by the Royal Academy of Needlework in London. She taught me to always be imaginative and to push the boundaries of fashion and the creative process. Through her teachings, I was mentored and trained to apply couture finishes and embellishments to make my garments unique, unconventional, and opulent.
My training and mentorship were also under the guidance of Susan Khalje, who owns The Couture School and was honored with the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals’ Lifetime Achievement Award. Susan’s training has given me the understanding to preserve the importance, value, and art of haute couture sewing. A lot of fashion designers have shied away from the art of couture because of the complexity and amount of labor that goes into this distinct way of garment making. My training through Susan focused on developing and improving my craftsmanship of sewing, the element and complexity of draping and design, the juxtaposition of proportion and balance, and the fabrication to achieve outstanding results in garment making.
My training with these master craftsmen helps me stand out by captivating an audience through my love for art, the creation of my own textiles, experimenting with new fabrications and embroidery, and through the understanding and appreciation of unparalleled craftsmanship.
What are some challenges that you face in running a business?
As fast fashion and trends dominate our industry, even in the luxury sector, there is a small appreciation for luxury or handmade goods that go against the grain. There is this idea that individuals have to be exact replicas to one another, expressing their individuality but through trends.
For much of my career, I have designed for cultured women who appreciate craftsmanship and unique and timeless designs with a spirit of the avant-garde and unexpected. My clients are independent women who want to be known for their nuanced understanding of fashion and art, and who are willing to invest in quality over quantity. I hope I bring respect to this dying art of dressmaking and exquisite handmade items.
What inspired you to start your line?
The disconnect between fashion and art. The missing bridge between luxury and maintained individuality. The appreciation for craftsmanship and opulent design. The need to break from trends and the hierarchy of what fashion dictates to consumers. The self-expression that is communicated through fashion.
Many of your pieces are monochromatic. Why one color?
I am drawn to black and monochromatic colors because viewers are able to fully admire and experience my silhouettes, textures, pattern making, and detailing when the color I use remains pure, somber, and rich. People often fail to see the beauty of a single and strong color like black, when the actuality is that black is poetic, modest, and mysterious. It is elegant and appropriate for any occasion.
My line is not only limited to black. My Off-Black Collection features hues of whites, taupes, and bold colors like red — colors that evoke an emotional impact and are aggressive, impulsive, and dynamic. The singularity of a bold and single color creates absolute beauty and the perfect harmony.
What advice do you have for a designer who’s just starting out?
To any designer or aspiring student wanting to start their own business, I always say remain true to yourself, your aesthetic, and your creative vision. Get inspired by other designers, but don't duplicate and create a replica, halting the creative process. Be adventurous, unfearful, and never stop breaking the rules of creativity and what the industry dictates.
Who is your style icon?
Bjork or Tilda Swinton.
What is your go-to tool?
Who do you dream of dressing?
Florence Welch or Cate Blanchett.
How would you describe your line in one word?
Favorite piece you've designed?
Never single out one piece.
A trend you're just not into…
Trends weaken creativity.
What inspires you the most?
Magazine that inspires you?
W, i-D, Numero.
First piece of clothing you loved?
A vintage Balenciaga dress.
AGNES HAMERLIK is a luxury Womenswear label focused on producing timeless, exquisitely constructed, “nouveaucouture” garments. Each piece is created utilizing the principles of the traditional couturier; all while maintaining a spirit of experimentation, conceptuality, innovation, and the exploration of unisex through the knowledge of humanity; celebrating neutrality as a characterizing human trait.
Opposed to accepted fashion and beauty standards, the collections focus on the concept of “wabi-sabi;” which focuses on a worldview centered on the acceptance of transience and art of imperfection; learning to see the invisible. The essence of finding beauty in imperfection while revering authenticity above all. The profound aesthetic consciousness that transcends appearance. It is a concept that we can feel and is rarely verbalized, much less defined to one single element. It is creating “The Perfect Imperfect.”
Breaking from mass production and industry practices, the AGNES HAMERLIK brand ethos is to challenge itself in forward thinking; discovering the ability to captivate and provide visual and tactile stimulation by providing garments meticulously designed around precision, beauty, finishings, and surface engineering. Embracing little-used couture techniques while adhering to the brand philosophy; AGNES HAMERLIK hopes to raise respect for the construction of this dying art of dress making in both her RAW and ARTISANAL Collections.