Artist and designer Elmina Ekman needs a break from fashion.
After finishing her degree at the Swedish School of Textile last year in addition to various other arts schools and then completing a fashion internship in Paris, Elmina Ekman released her ’80s inspired Dusty Delights collection.
The 26 year old designer drew inspiration for her latest project from her parents' closet as well as her boyfriend and collaborator Hannes Mörk’s parents’ home. The collection consists of lacey leggings, dainty lace up tops, and soft knitwear—perfect for the current rise of ballet-inspired fashion.
But now she said she’s taking a much needed rest and recovery from fashion design before letting her creative energy flow into making garments again.
What's your main focus now instead of fashion design?
Well, for now, I just moved to a new apartment. So now it's all about, you know, interior design and finding new furniture and kind of, yeah, the new place to work. I also have a new studio so I will start doing some new stuff pretty soon, but now I'm getting to know the new place.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I think it's a little bit difficult to pinpoint. Because, you know, when you're a new designer, you're new to the fashion world. I mean, it's only been a year. It's kind of hard to to niche. And also, when I went to school, I didn't want to set my aesthetic too early. I just wanted to explore. I think I still have that a little bit inside me. And I definitely will say that I like working with the materiality of this kind of handy, crafty aesthetic. I will say it's about structures and kind of neat details. I am mostly working with and get inspired by crafty things, materials, and of course, I love walking around into flea markets to look for interesting whatever actually, it could be textiles or objects.
For your dusty delights collection, why'd you decide to use more lace and knitwear fabrics because I feel like it differs greatly from the materials on your past designs?
For this project, I collaborated with Hannes, my boyfriend and often when we do these shootings, we decide the location after you know the aesthetic of the clothing. For this project, we set the mood and atmosphere and the location first. And then made the pieces when we shot it in this kind of mix and match spare apartment at Hannes’ parents house. We have this granny longstocking vibe because it's kind of a bit weird, and it kind of reminds me of when I was visiting my grandparents house and looking at my mom's old ’80s clothing and knitted pieces that my great grandmother had made. I wanted to kind of achieve this kind of new romantic look with lace and leggings. For this, gown dresses have been ripped apart. And that was like the idea for Dusty Delights, when you went through your mom's old wardrobe. So we went for that and had like this kind of polish look with no defined curls and neat makeup.
I really liked that it was kind of like ballet inspired here with leg warmers and lace.
Yeah exactly. And also for some of the pieces drawn from my graduate collection. I used some tall fabrics that I cut in small pieces, glued together, and stick stitched because I wanted to achieve, on the surface, the impression of paper. So for Dusty Delights, I use elements that I had developed from my graduate collection from school.
Can you talk a little bit about your experience at the Swedish School of Textiles?
Well, my experience was great. I think it was a perfect time in my life to move to a smaller city because I’m from Stockholm. It's not like you're supposed to be like commercial fashion. It’s more a place to work with materiality. And I really would say, I mean, it has pros and cons, but I always say like overall I'm really pleased with my education and my experience with teachers was great. I think I learned a lot from being at school. However, I kind of feel like what I missed a little bit, was like the commercial part actually, because it's not like that when I graduated, I had all the tools to go out into the industry and start working.
And then how would you describe your design process from start to finish?
I start sketching in my head. Especially now during my work hours, I listen to podcasts and it's this perfect opportunity to be in your head and thinking, so I kind of sketch in my head. Again, I often like working in the material world in either 2d or 3d. When I start a project I go all in, zero to 100%, so it gets really intense in the studio.
I also look at a lot of magazines and the internet and listen to music. For example, for Dusty Delights, because I wanted to have this 80s inspiration, I listened to '80s music because I wanted to get into the mood. So that’s part of my process. And then I try and try and try and go back and cut and sew again and hem. I work really free.
What was some of your favorite 80s music to listen to when you were designing Dusty Delights?
Maybe I should pull up my Spotify Spotify? I made this amazing French 80s playlist, so I mainly like listening to French 80s music.
Elmina sent the song that was most inspirational to her for Dusty Delights, “Les démons de la minuit” by Images, after the interview.
And then do you think you’re gonna do a lot of other collaborative photography projects with your boyfriend in the future?
Yes, I think so. I mean, he's my partner in crime.
How did the collaboration with your boyfriend first come together?
He used to photograph my school projects, and so on. We have a good working relationship too.
I'm sorry. We just have to mention, I totally forgot about this part of the project as well, because I met this amazing designer at the design market in Gothenburg—Eija Andelin. She makes these amazing crocheted bags. I thought this bag would fit perfectly to this project, so I contacted her through Instagram and then we used bags for the photoshoot. I mean she needs more attention. Those bags are great and she makes them by hand.
Where do you see your designs going in the future?
I don't know because I think the things that I make now, I mean, it's not really commercial pieces that you can use for everyday customers. But I definitely would like to follow up the concept a little bit more with making your own materials. I think I will do more artsy projects and pieces. But of course I want to make more ready to wear pieces. In about two months, I will start studying again to become a technical environment designer. So I think I've mostly been like a really crossfeed designer, but now I wanted to be more of a digital designer and kind of develop that skill.