Claudia Skoda is one of the most famous designers in Berlin and her presence is a great gift to the unified German capital. Skoda stands for experience, elegance, femininity and fine, modern, hand-manufactured, knit wear. Her unique designs have been well known for the last 30 years. Her fashion shows in Berlin, New York and London were legendary.
Like nowbody before her, Skoda transformed knitwear into high fashion. Musicians, artists models all dressed in skoda. If you see a Skoda, you know it is a Skoda. Her store in Berlin Mitte is one of the city’s most beautiful addresses.
Molina: As the world knows, you take what could be called an artistic approach to presenting design. For example, as artistic director of "Art and Paper on the Fashion Runway" at the Deutsche Guggenheim you let the presentation of an object announce whether it could be called “art” or “fashion,” emphasizing how mode influences how we make these distinctions. What about the function of the “brand” in fashion and design? Do you think advertising and branding effects how a designer chooses to develop her work?
Skoda: Yes, but I still work freestyle. It’s not that I don’t understand progress and I’m aware of all that’s going on in the world, but I'm a child of the wild 60's and 70's, and in a way I do want to stay that way, because I still think that artistic creative work (I am not an artist) has to be authentic to truly stimulate someone.
Molina: Can you talk about your 2006/2007 collection: Blue. What are your favorite pieces?
Skoda: I always wanted to have a collection in all blue shades. But when I decided to work with the theme
Blue I learned that there is much more than the shades of blue. It started last season in my collection Contradiction. I created blue jean items out of knit (I think those were the first knitted jeans worldwide) and I called them cowboy and indianer. Made out of blue denim yarn extremely clever made, I’m continuing to knit delfter tiles, meissen porcellan and so on — things that might not appear as though they’re linked to fashion. The results have been refreshing and the collection is full of must-have items for spoiled fashion victims (see my website).
Molina: Many people have suggested that the difference between art and design is that design has inherent in its form the necessity of the practical, it must do something for us, while art has no such obligation, other than perhaps the function of beauty. What do you make of beauty in 2006?
Skoda: If someone makes statements in fashion through design or art and it’s not possible to make the same statements again and again. In-between these worlds the work can be beautiful or even ugly. Hopefully, both can allow you to create new fashion statements.
Molina: Suzy Menkes recently wrote a piece for the IHT titled: “Who’s Next in Design: No One,” asserting the mega-labels and big names that define fashion are dead. Maybe like a Nietzschean decree for the fashion world? What do you think?
Skoda: I think fashion will become even more oriented towards accessories, which will mean the death of clothing in terms of fabrics and tailoring. Already the bag is a part of a dress or coat. Sunglasses are more important than a nice blouse and shoes are the “must have” item.
Molina: What’s the one item every woman should own?
Skoda: A dress. She can wear it always.
Molina: What’s in your Ipod?
Skoda: I only have a laptop, but I am into the new neohippymusic, like brightblack morninglight, bardo pond and espers.
Molina: What’s the one thing nobody would ever
Molina: It’s a bit intimidating to speak with the woman who’s been called the Fashion Queen of Berlin, the Queen of Knits and one of the world’s top-most avant-garde designers. You’ve changed the way women and men think about clothing, material and art for over three generations. You’ve embraced virtually every medium and managed to capture the spirit of each decade. In an interview with db artmag you said, “I find this kind of clinging to something old, these retro ideas to be really awful.” What do you think fashion’s relationship with the past might be? How
Skoda: I think we are living in a time of rapid change. In fashion we’ve already experienced everything. Recent changes include many things, but in terms of art and design we are living in a time of “statements” and this means everything. Even hardcore taboos no longer exist. I like new techniques… handcrafted and clever inventions. The industrial world reduces sensitive things to make money that’s not part of the avant-garde.
She partied with Bowie and Iggy Pop and she was part of the original Berlin underground scene, where she had the ear of some of the most influential artists of our time, like Martin Kippenberger. Today, Skoda continues to challenge the premises of form and function: Claudia Skoda.
guess about Claudia Skoda?
Skoda: Her private clothing rack is only half a meter long,
Molina: Where will we find you hanging out in Berlin?
Skoda: White trash, bonfini, the dog playground and in the private whisper boutique of plez.
Interview by Joanne Molina