Angelika Ollinger – A fashion alchemist

Angelika Ollinger, an Antwerp designer, who plays the game  ‘menswear VS womenswear’.

Angelika Ollinger wants to be disruptive and mix male features like tailored suit with female ones, as drapes and other sensual elements. She brings out a contrasts aesthetics.

Describe yourself with 3 points of strength and 3 of weekness.

3 strengths of mine would be that I am an endurant worker, that I am passionate and creative. I think 3 of my weaknesses are that I am a perfectionist, which can be demanding for collaborations. I have troubles saying ‘no’ sometimes and it can be difficult for me to maintain a healthy work/life balance.

Talk to us about some of your moodboards, some research during design: what is your inspiration?

My inspiration for a collection always really differs. Sometimes it is an image of an artwork which fascinates me and then I start building up a concept based on that. This could be a painting, a photograph or modern art. Occasionally I am inspired by objects of our everyday life, which we take for granted and so unlearnt to look at their beauty. Starting point of the collection ‘Breathing sculptures’ for example were the Greek Venus statues. Focusing on how much they were and still are a symbol of femininity. The main idea is to break those female stereotypes. Therefor I did research on sculptures like Aphoridtus, which is a masculine form of Aphrodite, portrayed as having a female body shape but a masculine gender, Marlene Dietrich, who was known for her transgressive way of dressing, and Ulrike Rosenbach, with the focus on her work about ‘the reflection on the birth of Venus’ or Donna Huanca, which creates live sculptural pieces. My aim is to play with the contrast between menswear and womenswear, for example tailored, ‘sculpted’ garments’ combined with draped, sensual elements, including the literal translation of the ‘breaking out’ in my garments. Basically I want to bring sculptures alive.

What kind of materials represent you at the best to exhibit your creativity? Why?

I like the contrast between the transparency and thickness of materials, playing with textures and fabric manipulations. I always try to find new techniques for new collections. Like for example for ‘Breathing sculptures’ I was experimenting with the crystallization of fabrics together with Fenia Proost. So if I would have to choose a material which represents my newest collection the best I would choose the crystallized gloves, which are a perfect metaphor for alive sculptures.

What is your philosophy? Are you connected to social concept?

I always like to play with contrasts. Like combining elements which are typical for menswear with very feminine ones or draped elements with very constructed ones. I have to say I try to produce my collection as environmental friendly as possible, using dead stock fabrics and linen instead of cotton and finding collaborators in Europe or even Belgium. Of course the concept is also very important in a collection. With ‘breathing Sculptures’ for example I tried to achieve the break out of stereotypical thinking about the female body.

A great importance is attached to the fashion story in Antwerp. How does this influence your style, your personality, your approach?

I have to say Antwerp did shape me a lot. I started my fashion studies in Antwerp really young, I had just turned 19 and didn’t really know what I wanted to achieve with my way of designing. I mean I always wanted to express my creativity through fashion so Antwerp seemed the only suitable school, where teachers guide you but let you go your own direction. I grew a lot during my time in Antwerp and made me the person I am today. Through Antwerp I became more independent, more organized and more convinced of my way of designing. Over the years I didn’t want to satisfy teachers anymore, I wanted to satisfy myself, which is even harder. There are ups and downs but if you keep pushing through you will be thankful for it afterwards.

If you had to choose, what would be your preferred path, considering the 6 in Antwerp?

That’s a really hard decision because every single designer of the Antwerp six is so different and I admire all of them for their unique views on fashion. I have to say I love them as a group of 6 individuals.


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