Talking with the Swedish designer Matilda Norberg, we noticed that she still hadn’t realized just how marvellous her work really is. A recent graduate of the Royal College of Art in London, her final collection, “Earth’s Crust / Material Rules” is, quite simply, perfection.
Her mastery of knitting, the textures and the shapes are flawless and paired with techniques for sewing and creating materials that she has invented herself.
Since we happened upon work, we’ve hardly been able to contain our excitement. So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins spoke with the designer and we’re sure that before you know it, she’ll be a point of reference in the fashion world.
SO CATCHY!: Why did you decide to study fashion? and why knitwear?
MATILDA NORBERG: I was always interested in fashion, I started out about ten years ago taking short courses in textiles, design and craft and carried on to assist fashion designers and freelance doing styling, making garments made to measure, costume jobs and more. I was always a bit of a nerd about materials and textile crafts so I started studying weaving and embroidery at a super traditional school here in Stockholm (Handarbetets Vänners Skola). While there I got really frustrated with the limitations of weaving, and started to tweak and try to push the limits of the technique, modifying looms, building my own tools etc.
I went on to the bachelor programme in Textiles at Konstfack Univeristy College of Art, Craft and Design, where i continued to experiment with making and manipulating textiles, developed my own techniques, got really in to knitting, and more. At the end of the course I tried to combine what I was doing in textiles with my skills in draping and tailoring. There and then, I realized I had found my thing. My BA project was a collection of garments in my own experimental materials and techniques.
I decided to study fashion knitwear at RCA because I wanted to be able to focus on developing materials and techniques, and take them all the way in to finished garments.
SC!: Tell us about your wonderful final collection ‘EARTH’S CRUST / MATERIAL RULES’.
MN: The crust of the earth, with its movements and tensions, its materials and the relationship between them, has been the basis of my design work. The solid crust riding on a molten interior, the layering of sediments and rocks, flowing and expanding lava – it has all translated in to stitches, knits, finishing techniques, shapes and silhouettes within my sketch book.
My work focuses on exploring the knit techniques to find ways of developing them and push them forward. When an idea of a knit structure suggests new shapes, silhouettes and methods of constructing garments, I am exactly where I want to be.
For me, the two years at the RCA has been all about developing knit techniques. In my graduate collection I have focused mainly on two: the shaping of knitted garments by stitch size, both machine knits and hand knits, and layering and fusing of knitted materials with rubber and foam, as a construction technique as well as a way to achieve sculptural silhouettes.
The collection was awarded the Loro Piana Best Knitwear Collection Award 2015.
SC!: How was the experience of studying at RCA?
MN: The RCA has been great, a lot of hard work but also very rewarding. I spent so much time in the workshops that I barely noticed I was in London… It was a very creative environment where energy and inspiration you spent kept coming back to you through other peoples work. Loved it!
SC!: What are you doing now?
MN: I had a baby in June, a couple of weeks after the fashion show at the RCA, so right now I am taking care of her and doing some work on the side as well… I am about to start looking for jobs too, so that’s exciting!
SC!: Do you plan to create your own label anytime soon?
MN: I am just starting to look for jobs! Its possible that I will create my own label at some point, but right now I am eager to work in a team, gain the experience and learn about the business.
SC!: Define your style in a few words.
MN: Material, minimal, sculptural, crafted.
SC!: Fashion is …
MN: Esthetics, sculpture, movement and gravity, tactility.
SC!: Fashion World is in need of…
MN: Reflection! For example, we need to stop and think about the messages sent through fashion photography, weak and ill looking models, very young looking girls, in submissive and/or unnatural positions and poses, compositions with violent undertones… As fashion designers we do have the power to say no to briefs like that. We need to consider the image of women sent through fashion. Also, I think the fashion world is in need of continuity when it comes to all sorts of ethic standpoints… We won’t change anything in a season.
SC!: Your favorite fashion designer…
MN: I am very much in to Issey Miyake’s approach to fashion textiles, and I also love Dior Couture, Gareth Pugh, Delpozo…
SC!: Your inspiration comes from…
MN: The materials themselves inspire me the most. I often try to find the possibilities for silhouettes, construction and finishing techniques within each material. Craft techniques can also be starting points for my projects, as well as materiality in other contexts, for example my graduate collection – Earth’s crust…
“Earth’s Crust / Material Rules” Collection photos courtesy of Ceen Wahren
All images © Matilda Norberg
Translation and Layout by Michael Padilla