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Always About Art: Konstantina Mittas

Konstantina Mittas is a woman of few words, so it’s lucky that the garments she creates speak for themselves. While some designer’s lazily reference pop culture or high art to imbue in their collections a sense of meaning or authority, it is clear that Konstantina does not fall into this category. Taking inspiration from artworks by William Blake and surrealist Leonor Fini and using their narratives and painterly techniques as running motifs throughout her collection, we spoke to the designer about her Spring Summer 2010 collection.

Konstantina Mittas’ range “alludes to the awakening of universal strength, beauty and the mystery of all women,” the designer explains. Taking its obscure title – The Night of Enitharmon’s Joy – from a painting by William Blake dating back to the late 18th century, “the collection reveals a paradoxically futuristic world of myth.” Also drawing on the theme of femininity and in a similar painterly vein, Konstantina says the work of surrealist artist Leonor Fini has served much inspiration, the specific point of interest being “her work of mystical and dream-like female figures.”

Although they seem to be somewhat strange inspirations to inform a Spring Summer collection, they were perfectly translated to the runway. Models walked in Marie Anoinette-esque up-do’s, this royal reference clashing with bright and hyperbolic eye make-up, which was directly inspired by the “enigmatic” Leonor Fini. Konstantina further explains that these looks reflected the “aesthetic of her paintings and the female figures within.”

Again tying in with Blake’s painting, a live band accompanied the show, “responding in their score directly to the collection’s muse Enitharmon, as well as complementing the collection itself.” Performed by avant-garde duo Jared Underwood vs. Flutter Lyon, with vocals provided by Jessica O’Donoghue, the collaborative soundtrack aspect of the show was a brazen decision by the designer. Then again, she is not one to shy away from theatrics or drama. “The sound created a musical journey for the audience, within the willingly chosen limitations of voice, guitar and drums,” Konstantina says.

“For me, it is always about art,” Konstantina says of how inextricable fashion is to artistic expression. Aside from being inspired by the narrative in Blake’s painting, Konstantina takes elements from art practice and applies them to her clothing design. Drape sculpture and structure – both painterly techniques – were used to great effect in garments, inciting the same visceral reactions as an audience looking at a work of art in that guests at the RAFW show wanted to reach out and touch to make sure the rendered folds were real. Models were swathed in fabric seas of rouching, complete with pleated collars and pronounced shoulders. Among these more exaggerated garments were wearable basics with the same attention to tailoring. Garish golds in cellophane-like fabrics provided a colour boost to the nude and black palette, while nipples peeked through sheer panels and buttocks were bare in cut out hosiery, adding a fetish-twist.

With no formal training behind her, Konstantina answers ambiguously about how she came to be a designer, saying, “I’m not sure, I guess it’s just something I do.” Although it seems a rewarding enough profession, with Konstantina passionately telling us that the best thing about her job is “working with the most amazing, incredible people and bringing dreams to catwalk fruition”. And, like all artists who have a prodigious streak, Konstantina explains that the only thing on her horizons is “always designing.”

Konstantina Mittas

words: Ingrid Kesa


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