Who is Eileen? I’m a child of a multi-cultured background, (Italian, Indian, and Malagasy) …
When did you start with fashion and why?
There was no clear starting point but I always felt drawn to creating things with my hands. That started at a very early age – drawing, paper crafting, crocheting… and never stopped to this day.
It happened naturally that I ended up in this field.
The passion about creating and realising your own ideas from a picture in your head until it comes alive in reality is what keeps me going. During my teenage years I started to teach myself how to sew. This resulted in designing and sewing my own graduation dress for school, although back then, I didn’t have much experience with pattern cutting. There was just this strong wish and belief to get this red dress done. And with a little help it worked out in the end.
Looking at that dress now makes me smile… but we all start somewhere. This is important.
Then things moved on from there. I did my first internship in my hometown and had the chance to do another one at Puma in London, to find out whether my wish to study fashion design after those experiences would prevail. It did.
I started with fashion because I truly love the handcraft. The ability of creating things by yourself and experiencing the whole development, every step, from start to finish causes a deep connection to what you are doing. That is a wonderful process and feeling to me. Expanding the knowledge on your craftsmanship in order to prevent it from dying out feels even more important nowadays. Actually, I prefer to say clothing design instead of fashion design, because to me that adds value to it.
One of my biggest dreams is to go abroad again to work with an international team in an interdisciplinary studio. The exchange between people within a team and the common work on a project towards the same goal makes me feel the special energy coming alive. Also this environment doesn’t need to be within fashion only. It is about creating the network.
At the moment, I am enticed by the opportunities of clothing design of work wear for restaurants, hotels, etc. You create clothing for real people who work there. Still, there is a minimalist and timeless design approach customized for each client, with the goal of making the uniforms personalised for every employee.
Another dream is to work as a costume designer for dance companies and music artists. I have a strong connection and love for dance, as I’ve been dancing myself for years. Here, creating clothing comes again with different challenges, this time combining customisation for each dancer while allowing optimal performance, i.e. movement.
My goal is to spread my enthusiasm with my fellow workers through the work and projects as well as the time we share together. Basically, contributing to the creative field with my work while also being able to gather people to learn and create together and thereby giving something back.
What to do to pursue goals?
Right now, I am focussing on connecting with people it would be great to work for and with. I am always open to collaborations. Currently, it feels like a transition phase. Simultaneously, I’m creating ideas and realizing outfit projects I have had in mind for a long time. I’m also working with people within the network I built up here in Munich.
Stories around people and feelings that certain situations create inspire me most. This method is also how I approached my graduation collection “Time(is)less”. The concept is about the perception of time nowadays with regard to deceleration. Keywords are, amongst other things, protection and restriction. This resulted in creating some kind of ‘armour’ protecting you as a second layer. At the same time, this piece might narrow your own field of action because you wear it on top and it is not always possible to put it on fully by yourself. To me, this is a way of translating feelings into clothing. What does the wearer feel? It is my main question when creating.
Colours and textures are a source of inspiration too. Often, the fabrics are there before I really know what it is going to be. It is interesting, as sometimes the fabric just ‘tells’ what it should become. When there is a certain colour combination that attracts me, my eyes begin to sparkle. No matter where I find it… in the streets, in the landscape, in rooms, in pictures. I take photographs, sometimes some notes as well and come back to it when needed. Over time, this has resulted in some kind of photo library, a personal collection of inspiration.
Talking about this leads to another form of art that I enjoy: collages. With small cut out pictures from an existing world another new world is created. For this, I am randomly collecting newspapers and magazines to look for interesting images I can use any time later on.
I remind myself why I started this in the first place. It is sewing. It is gaining knowledge about the handcraft and learning within the field of aesthetics. Being capable of performing a certain task. I am also happy to spread my knowledge.
Obviously, you might reach a point in life where you rethink what you are doing right then. At that time, it may seem difficult but this hardship may bring a lot of (hidden) opportunities with it. You need to keep going, trust in yourself and listen to that inner voice. Even if the next chapter you are about to embark on isn’t clear yet.
Also, I try to reach out to other disciplines. A huge passion of mine is cycling with my racing bike. Long distance trips or climbs in the mountains always help me clear my mind and I return re-energised for new projects.
What is the purpose of fashion nowadays? If you can speak of purpose… In which way do we need to produce today? These questions became more and more present over the years since the beginning of my studies.
For me, it starts with raising the perception and value of clothing in society again. There needs to be an awareness of how long it actually takes to realize a single garment, how much work and time is invested, in order to prevent it from being thrown away carelessly. The value of clothing has decreased over the years, but I also think it is slowly increasing again. We need to shift our minds and attitudes towards the worth of clothing.
My personal style is minimalistic and reduced with some details you only notice with a second, closer look. Taking inspiration from menswear and combining it with feminine shapes shows the interaction of contrasts, which I am fond of.
Even though it’s been a couple of years since I created ‘Time(is)less‘, it is still relevant today – how are we using our time nowadays and how is it influenced by society and the system’s rules?
To carry on this thought I came back to creating a timeless wardrobe representing yourself, as I still believe that clothing is a protection for yourself and your personality, that can make you feel comfortable – because unfitted, impersonalised clothing can achieve quite the opposite. Through defining your personality and the clear vision of what you want to wear in order to feel being yourself automatically leads to buying less but selected garments of good quality that have a long term space in your wardrobe. This is what I am focusing on in my work right now. Another challenge is to only make use of all the fabrics I collected over the years.
There is a love to create an outfit for someone, be it a wedding outfit and concert outfit for a cellist. My wish is to allow people to feel like themselves when wearing their outfit, it encourages them in what they are doing because it fits perfectly and underlines their personality.
My take on these issues and the future of clothing design:
Be aware of what you have and use what is already there. I believe that personalised clothing, i.e. especially made for someone, will increase its value to the owner. The awareness of how long it actually takes to create a garment needs to be transparent to consumers again to avoid the cycle of buying cheap clothes just like that and throwing them away uncaringly as soon as there is the slightest damage that could easily be fixed by someone with the most basic knowledge of sewing. To me there is magic in repairing things. Not only clothing. It shows that you care about them. Hence, I want to share not only that magical feeling with others but also give them a means of achieving this by sharing my knowledge and experience in the field.
VIDEOS – Styling by Atelier Haas
Photo credits by Isabella Hager, Manuel Nieberle, Simon Freund, Lisa Haas