Interview with fashion designer Annamária Molnár

ImageThen, a classmate of mine, and now, an aspiring fashion designer: having known Annamária Molnár for a while, I wasn’t really surprised when I heard she would be doing something artistic. This seems to be the right track for her, as not only is she passionate about her work, she is finding success already, at the very beginning of her career. Having seen her impressive first collection at the fashion show concluding the studies of her class, I thought she would be an ideal person for some inquiry – as it turned out I wasn’t the only one thinking this. As a result of her hectic schedule, it is via Skype that I reach her with the intention of getting to know more about her as a designer.

First of all: how did you get to where you are now?

I graduated this summer from the fashion school Mod’Art where I had completed a 3-year course in fashion design. The same way as with universities,  to complete our studies, we had to create a final project, in our case a collection which we had to present for  a jury of professionals both from here and abroad invited by the school. I consider myself quite lucky, as about a month later I got a call from one of them,  a renowned  Hungarian designer, asking if I were interested in participating in a project, a sort of competition, to do the menswear part – as my collection was also menswear. So that’s how I started out after graduation, and I have been working with them ever since. I was lucky to secure a job right away.

Your collection must have received nice feedback, then.

Yes, it was such a pleasant feeling: all the jury members liked it and voted it one of the bests. Also, I got positive feedback from members of the audience including bloggers who were at the graduation show following the exam.

As for the project: what was it about and how come she decided to pick you for it?

Well, she had been invited to this project as a competitor to design the future uniforms for a big company, and as she is mainly into women’s formal wear, she was looking for some young, innovative artists specialising in menswear to help her, so as to be part of a designer team. That is how she came to ask one of my classmates and me if we were in, and of course, we said yes. It was basically to create the uniforms of the employees; firstly, we had to make the plans than actually sew it all. Afterwards, we got to present it for the executives of the company – of course, as project assistants it wasn’t us who did the talking. So, this is how I have got involved, but there is always some kind of a project going on.

And after all, how did you perform?

We won! And guess what, it has already been through the manufacturing process, so it’s now out and in use: employees in most of the shops of the company have already adopted it.

That’s quite an achievement. Before going on the recent and future plans, I would be interested in how you got into the fashion world at all. Was this your aim for life or have you considered anything else?

After finishing high school, I first applied to and spent a year at Corvinus University to study media, but honestly, I have always wanted to be engaged in something creative, and my work to be connected to fashion. I was having thoughts of dealing with journalism, but really, this was my primary objective. Seeing everyone opting for university made me do the same, but I was really unhappy with that and started missing being creative. Then I found this school and took its preparatory course: I became completely enthusiastic about it. It followed naturally from that that I would apply; I got in, and I am very happy it happened so, because I feel I have found my place, finally. I also think this is not anything far-fetched or high-flown in terms that I can make living out of it.

I think it is crucial to be mentioned that you design for men. For me as an amateur, what first comes to mind in relation to fashion is women and women’s clothing, especially if the designer is a woman. How frequent is that and how did you happen to ‘side with’ menswear?

It struck me as a bit of surprise, too: when I first went to school, I had no idea I would be doing menswear, either. It might sound a bit strange, but then I gradually became more attracted to that than women’s clothing, and that’s how I envisage my future for now: designing for men. Somehow, it has turned out to be more inspirational for me, and I feel there is a lot of room for possibilities in that field, in addition, there is a deficiency, too. For example, it is also indicative that in the past three years in our school including our class, I was the only one designing for men: it shows how less overcrowded this business is.

 

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Part of her first collection. Photo: Dávid Ajkai

 Is it overcrowded in Hungary or abroad as well? Do you see yourself working here or are going to address audiences other than Hungarian?

I guess the style I represent is less suitable for people here, and that there is some narrow-mindedness amongst men when it comes to fashion. The brand at which I did my apprenticeship also does menswear and their target is clearly abroad, as that is the only way a successful enterprise can be maintained. It is characteristic that only a select few are into and can afford designer brands – I, myself sometimes fancy something from that category, but mostly it is unaffordable. Besides, it is problematic for lesser-known brands that people with a lot of money on their hands are much likely to go to Andrássy to purchase things there, rather than buying from a relatively no-name designer. So it’s somewhat hard here for a not exactly luxury brand, but there are positive cases as well; for instance,  formal wear goes quite well, if you consider how important a wedding dress can be for a lot of women: they tend to save up for one special occasion. Also, the brand I was working at this summer has managed to set a reasonable price, so they are managing well.

What brand was that and what was your job?

It’s called Mei Kawa, and there’s this place called Flatlab at Kálvin which is approximately a combination of an open workshop and a store. Apart from attending to customers, I helped getting things ready for the next season.

This might be a bit a of a cliché question, but is the world of fashion as cruel or at least so demanding as it might seem to an outsider, as it is suspected by outsiders?

It’s kind of a difficult question. It is true that it’s all very happening and that you have to be very up-to-date all the time and deadlines are crucial: it doesn’t matter if you are tired or lagging behind, there is no such thing as delay if you have to have something ready for the following season; all in all, it’s like you’re racing against time incessantly, which can be very demanding.

Is it not cruel, then?

Well, I would say critical, instead. They are not being gentle to you, for sure, but this is sometimes for a reason:  to facilitate improvement. There is a lot of criticism on the public’s side as well. It is hard to get used to, though, at least for me because I’m quite sensitive, but it’s inevitably there. If you create something that will also trigger negative opinions, otherwise, it would mean it’s neutral, indifferent. Only those kind of things provoke no reaction; if you create something meaningful and individual, there is  going to be a response to it that is either more negative or more positive.

If it can be such a tough work, what characteristics do you think a designer must have?

First of all, a creative, artistic vein is required, but at the same time, one has to have their feet on the ground, has to be good at business, to be able to ‘sell oneself’. I would say it is commitment that is necessary and that the person should be able to bear a lot in order always to be on the move and never to give up.

I can recall you once mentioning you weren’t getting a sleep sometimes because you had some work to finish for school. It gave me the impression the school you went to was kind of tough.

Yes, my school was definitely difficult, but it gave me a good start; made me ready for what is going to follow it. True, sometimes we didn’t have much sleep.

Weren’t you discouraged or disappointed by these difficulties?

No, because I am quite determined and if I do something creative, I’ll get energised. Of course, I get tried sometimes, but it’s totally worth it.

As for the future: are you planning to launch a brand of your own? Is it a realistic idea at this time, when you’ve just finished your studies?

I think it is realistic and I’m planning on it, but it has to be carefully planned and thought over beforehand, so it is not going to happen in the nearest future but a bit later. I definitely want one of my own and I have a somewhat clear vision what it’s going to look like and who are going to be the target audience: it would be aimed at younger men with wanting to dress distinctively and strikingly but, at the same time, in a sophisticated way. It’s only that I am not sure how it should be done precisely. As I mentioned, you have to have some business skills as well, but I’m less experienced at managing myself, so I would need someone to help me with that. For now, I am happy for my collection, for the successful uniform project and that I’m working for a great designer.

Last but not least: how important is fashion for you in terms of part of the everyday life? I mean, how much do you focus on your attire and that of others?

It certainly is important for me; I always aim to dress in a way that is stylish, creative and impeccable. This is also important due to my work as a ‘dishevelled’ designer is not very credible. I do pay attention to others as well, or I would say that it’s practically impossible for me not to! A stylish outfit always grabs my attention which can serve as an inspiration as well.

 

by Galambosi Dóra

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