Over the past few months I have observed the remarkable rise of a lingerie designer, grabbing attention on the scene, gaining a huge social following and even boasting a number of stockists – which wouldn’t in itself be unusual, if it wasn’t for the fact that this designer is still studying! I’m talking of course about 20 year old contour fashion student, Karolina Laskowska. She’s an unapologetic lingerie obsessive; born and raised in London (with Polish heritage), couture lace crazed, pastry baking, heavy metal fan, whose designs are described as “sophisticated garments with a cheeky erotic twist”. I’ve been fascinated to learn more about this undeniably big character so I caught up with Karolina to discover more about the genius behind this brand:
Photography Simon Crinks, model Sunday Roy, MUA Crystal Michael
Where are you studying? How do you feel it is equipping you for honing your skills and launching your brand?
I’m studying Contour Fashion at De Montfort University in Leicester. It’s the oldest course of its kind in the world. I definitely feel that it’s equipping me to launch my brand – in more ways than I can count I suppose! Above all I feel that it’s giving me the skills to realise the designs I have in my head – before the course I had literally zero technical knowledge so it’s helped immensely in that respect.
Were you always interested in lingerie design, and what made you get into it?
Back during my A-levels I didn’t know which career to go into – I was actually considering Law or Psychology! To cut a long story short I decided to do an Art & Design Foundation to delay the decision for another year, but just before starting the course I found this article on The Lingerie Addict – I was stunned by just how gorgeous the designs were and that a lingerie degree actually existed. It seemed perfect – I’d been in love with pretty bras and corsets for a while but I’d never considered a career in it. From that moment on I focused all of my efforts on getting a good enough portfolio to actually get into the Contour Fashion course at DMU! Luckily my efforts paid off!
Photography by Anna Swiczeniuk, model Miss Miranda
Despite being a student you have already achieved a strong brand identity, what is the Karolina Laskowska ethos?
That’s a tricky one – it’s not really a question I’ve ever considered! I think above all when I’m designing I want to create something beautiful that I would actually want to wear myself and would make me feel sexy. The brand is just my way of sharing my designs with the rest of the world – I want other people to feel the same way I do about my designs – love them!
How do you work? What is your creative process?
It depends on the project – if I’m designing for a university project then it’s a very involved process of lots of drawing, inspiration hunting and massive sketchbooks. When I design for myself the process is a lot more organic – usually it’s an idea that’s been brewing in my head for a while or I’ve been inspired by a piece of fabric. I tend to scour remnant bins in fabric shops – those odds and ends often push me to try colour and fabric combinations that I’d never normally consider.
“Self-confidence issues, pushing my designs forward and finding a signature aesthetic are all big challenges for me.”
Do you feel lingerie has a place alongside ready-to-wear? Why?
Absolutely. I see lingerie as a form of fashion just as ready-to-wear is. To me, lingerie isn’t just a foundation anymore but a form of self-expression. Not only that but its influence on ready-to-wear is pretty much unavoidable – how many times has innerwear as outerwear been a trend now?
What are your biggest challenges as a new designer?
My goodness, there are so many… There’s personal ones such as self-confidence issues, pushing my designs forward, finding a signature aesthetic…
The most glaring one would be funding though. Thus far everything has been self-funded, which of course means everything I do is on an incredibly small scale; each garment is sewn by me, I do all of the website work and social media. It’s a lot to keep on top of! There’s only so much I can do at this small scale and I have big ambitions. My biggest challenge is going to be getting to the next stage.
Photography Steve Kraitt, model Nathalie Hers, MUA Marina Keri
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
There have been so many… I’m not sure if it counts as my career but getting a place on my degree course* is one of my biggest personal achievements. The other highlight I would say is all the various creative collaborations and photoshoots that I’ve done. I’ll always be incredibly grateful to the likes of Catherine Day, Little Twiglet, Simon Crinks and Steve Kraitt for giving me confidence to carry on with my designs and brand. Gorgeous images of your desgins are definitely a massive confidence booster!
What does the future hold for Karolina Laskowska?
It’s a very ambitious plan but I am hoping to crowd-fund a new collection this Summer and get my designs put into production. I have no form of financial backing so I’m hoping that a crowd-funding campaign will be successful. My fans and followers have been incredibly supportive so far so at the moment success seems possible!
Where are you based? Where can we buy your designs?
I’m based in the UK, dashing between London and Leicester most of the time! My designs can currently be purchased through my online shop, my Swedish stockist Justine & Juliette or a selection of accessories can be found in Leicester boutique Watch This Space.
*Karolina would like to highlight a post about her Contour Fashion application portfolio. It was originally uploaded because she couldn’t find any resources about portfolios online, but since her application was successful, the post has become a useful resource to help prospective students.