Photographer&Stylist: Stefan Dotter
Milla, you recently graduated from Berlin’s ESMOD International Fashion School and you already made your way to Paris, where you work for Balenciaga right now. What are the biggest struggles someone has to face after graduating from fashion school?
Emptiness. After school you loose the safety net in which some things were given mean-ing merely because they were part of your school work. Now you are facing an industry that expects you to work long hours with minimum to zero salary for the next few years and since for the first time in a long while you have some time to stop and think you might question if this is the right direction you want to take. I speak from my point of view - which is working for big companies instead of starting my own label. You are coming from a weird period in your life. Last year of fashion school leaves you mentally and physically very empty. You have poured your whole existence into finishing your first collection. You have managed to take care of everything. You’ve actually created something by yourself. Hopping into an intern position after this can feel like a huge step backwards. It can make you feel very lost and creatively unworthy. For me the feeling of being a piece in a big machinery instead of ex-pressing myself is very strong.
Like in most creative studies - you have that perfect future picture in your head and after graduating you’ll get thrown into reality to learn about the world the hard way. Your graduate collection was entitled “Sonora Aero Club”, after one of the works of Art Brut artist Charles Dellschau who actually was a butcher in the late 19th century. I’m not familiar with that story, but there is a little bit of an aviation vibe in your designs. I really got hooked on the fur aviator jacket, which breaks with every take on this style I’ve never seen. How did you manage to reinterpret Charles’ work into a collection?
I’m into stories and this was one of those that stuck with me for a long time. Charles became popular only years after his death when the vast collections of his diaries and drawings were discovered. He had kept a diary of a club he called “Sonora Aero Club”, writing down their meetings and experiments. The club tried to build the first air planes - they created zeppelins, balloons, even space ship lookalike planes. The notes were accompanied with hundreds of detailed but naive or even child like drawings of these flying objects. He also mentions that they disguised the planes as gypsy caravans while moving them around so people wouldn’t pay attention. The club’s experiments could explain many of the UFO sightings of that time in the area where they were placed. No one knows if the notes are true, but if they would be, their successful flight trials would be the first known to man. The story of the Sonora Aero Club was the main inspiration and the collection really based on that idea. I wanted to imagine how the people of that club would dress. I concentrated on the contrast between the very practical work wear and early aviation wear in addition to the dreamy side of this club travelling around in disguise. I loved the idea of dressing the airplanes as gypsy caravans, it brought in a lot of fabric manipulation. You see pieces that are familiar to you, especially like the aviator jackets, overalls and turtle neck pullovers. The materials however don’t correspond to the original use. Light as air knits, heavily embroidered cargo pants, the fur mix aviator.