Interview with the designer Marit Ilison
By Gioia Gange
When and how you decided that you wanted to be a designer?
I haven’t made such a decision and it has rather evolved through out the time. I have always liked to make things with my hands since I was very little. Since 8th grade I stitched all of my clothes, but after graduating high school, I thought I am not creative enough to become a designer. I graduated with honours, but decided to choose vocational education and study pattern-making instead of law, for example. And quite a few people said that I will ruin my life. I know now that it has been one of the best decisions in my life – a true foundation to everything I am and do today. I never dreamed about my own brand and rather always saw myself working as a pattern maker for somebody else.
It was your dream job?
I don’t know. When I was little I wanted to become a countryside school teacher, have a farm and help everybody with their school-tasks and hand out food for the ones in need.
Which is the first thing you designed and for who (yourself,a friend…)?
I guess it was the first ever dress I made for my doll when I was 2 and a half years old. It was an early Sunday morning and my doll Kristiina needed a dress URGENTLY, but my mom didn’t get up for that. So I found a piece of square fabric, somehow cut two holes for the hands and stitched the back with a needle and thread I found from a drawer with all the sewing things. And voilá!
Who’s the designer you admire the most and why?
It’s very hard to say – I like some for their style and aestetics, some for the conceptual approach.
Who’s your muse, your icon, when you create a dress?
I don’t have such thing and I’m rather thinking about the light, harmony and a good feeling. But I also keep my super-powerful friends and other great achieving women in mind.
If you had to design an entire collection using just one color, which is the one you’d pick and why?
Black. Actually, before Longing For Sleep collection came along, I had only made minimal black collections – and I miss it a lot today. Working with bold colour combinations is a great challenge for me – I really have to exceed myself.
Who’s the first person you show your sketches to?
I actually hardly sketch and I’m very-very private with my creations, but I guess it’s my brother and business partner Peeter.
The fabric you love the most…silk, lace, velvet and why?
Heavy wool, because it moulds so well – my heart belongs to the art of tailoring.
If your clothes had a soundtrack, which songs you’d choose?
I couldn’t point out particular songs for the clothes, but rather for my hole universe. It would be an eclectic mix containing pieces from Arvo Pärt to Taylor Swift, with a touch of the music by my own band and Estonian artists.
Arvo Pärt “Spigel Im Spigel” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtFPdBUl7XQ
Vladimir Martynov “The Beatitudes” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukjJDM07edE
Väljasõit rohelisse „Pea on pilvedes“ https://onesensemusic.bandcamp.com/track/pea-on-pilvedes
Chrome Sparks „Marijuana“ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aeukmFc3sU
The Knife „Heartbeats“ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcU7gmU1-WQ
Taylor Swift „Out of The Woods“ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLf9q36UsBk
Sigma „Nobody To Love“ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KD5fLb-WgBU
Robin S „Show me love“ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLf9q36UsBk
TV ON The Radio „Wolf Like Me“ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03hC_Ml8aAM
The Soft Moon „When It’s Over“ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0dIoRhnX3oY
Vaiko Eplik „Armastus päästab Maailma“ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mGgG9WsDDI
Do you have any trick to avoid that “blank page” moment when you’re at the beginning of the designing of a new collection? Do you watch a movie, flip an old magazine…
I am always afraid before the next collection, but I collect and form quite a few ideas during the previous collection development and I’m mostly inspired by some personal dreams, feelings, moments or experiences I want to bring to life again. I agree with Rei Kawakubo that something truly new can only come from within.
If you weren’t a designer which job in the fashion world you would like to do and why?
I don’t know. Maybe a textile designer’s?
*Photo credits: Maiken Staak, Tõnu Tunnel, personal.