Interview with Florencia Kozuch
By Laura Beaney
Growing up in Argentina with an impeccably dressed mother was bound to have had an impact upon Florencia Kozuch. She is the Central Saint Martins protégé with a fear of colour and a fascination with the Gaucho. And in her latest collection she channels both. In her refreshingly unconventional debut collection Kozuch utilizes the materials of her native land; applying sea urchins and crocodile skin to her powerful yet surprisingly wearable designs. For Florencia Kozuch it is not about where she’s been, but where she’s going.
FAULT: What began your career in fashion?
I have always had an interest in fashion, even before I was aware of what a ‘designer’ was. As a child I would continuously be drawing clothes and looking at what my mum and her friends would wear. I knew I wanted to study at Central St Martins so I moved to Spain and began to research. I did a foundation degree, which led on to a Bachelors degree at CSM where I created my first, graduate collection in June. My collection for London Fashion Week is my first work as a non-student.
FAULT: Your graduate collection was inspired by a fusion of Argentinean culture and Rock’n’Roll. What have you used as inspiration for your current collection?
My winter collection is actually a continuation of my graduate collection, but this time my key influence has been my Argentinean heritage. Parts of my collection have been influenced by Gaucho [Argentinean Cowboys]. You can see this in the riding tresses, riding shorts and the capes. I have integrated traditional features into some of the pieces such as the horns that add detail to belts. There are also sexy and feminine aspects to my collection such as the open wool coat – I have made it open at the front and the back to allow the wearer to move freely.
My collection displays elements from all over Argentina. The colours of Northern Argentina can be seen in the shoes and Central Argentina is represented in the use of crocodile skin and the Gaucho hats. Then down to the south and Patagonia where the riding trousers and the capes come from.
FAULT: In your graduate collection you chose not to work with colour. Why did you decide to incorporate blue into your latest collection?
I am usually afraid to work with colour, but I knew I had to try so I decided to use a navy blue in this collection as it works so well with the colour scheme and it is a traditional Argentinean colour.
FAULT: Did you experiment with any unusual materials and techniques when developing your collection?
I love to work with unusual materials! All the materials I used were locally sourced in Argentina. I have used unprocessed alpaca wool which has been hand knitted, I have also worked with crocodile skin but they are specifically bred and not endangered.
For my accessories I have chosen to use sea urchins – they are also from Argentina. They are very fragile and I like the unusual noise they make when you walk. I was actually looking for beads to use for my accessories, but I could not find anything to match my colour palette. Then, by chance I was in a shop and spotted a lamp made from a material that was perfectly matched to my collection. The storeowner informed me that it was in fact made from sea urchin! I was able to source a supplier using the Internet and had the sea urchins imported all the way from the south of Argentina. Once they had arrived I had them perforated and made into necklaces with my fathers help. It was a bit like a family business.
FAULT: Could you talk us through your favourite piece from the collection?
I have created dressy blazers that have the crocodile skin detail around the neck. They have strong structured shoulders that create a masculine aesthetic as the Gaucho are usually men. In Argentina women usually wear dresses – I have transformed the traditional male costume into a piece, which can be worn by a woman.
FAULT: What type of support have you had in launching your collection?
I was fortunate enough to gain sponsorship, which helped me to create the shoes, and provided me with the crocodile skin. Hopefully my next collection will be funded. As a designer you work so hard and spend all of your money on your work, so hopefully I will get something back and be able to fund another collection. I guess this is the challenge of working as a young fashion designer – being able to fund your work. If you ask around [in the new designers showroom] the general feeling is that this collection has to work.
FAULT: What can we expect from you in the future?
Now I will begin production for my current collection. Then in a months time I will begin my Spring/Summer 2011 collection, which I am really looking forward to. Whilst designing my current collection I kept thinking of ideas for summer pieces. There will be a lot more prints and patterns in my designs as well as light knits, silks and other luxe materials.
By Roshannah Bagley
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina/LONDON: Twice a year during London Fashion Week, Vauxhall Fashion Scout – hailed as a ‘talent goldmine’ by Vogue.com – presents a selection of London’s most gifted upcoming designers to its worldwide audience. Now approaching its eighth season, the institution has managed to bring a number of designers to the forefront of British fashion: Peter Pilotto, William Tempest and, more recently, David Koma, and Hermione de Paula. This season’s ‘Ones To Watch’ – Askh, David Longshaw, Eudon Choi and Florencia Kozuch – will take centre stage at the city’s Freemasons’ Hall. Central Saint Martins graduate Florencia Kozuch speaks to FAULT about her obsession with sea urchins and her forthcoming debut.
FAULT: How are you feeling about your debut at this season’s London Fashion Week?
Florencia: I’m very exited, if not a little terrified! I cannot think of a better platform to do my catwalk debut. It’s a great opportunity for a young designer and I’m really looking forward to it.
FAULT: Argentinean tribes and rock’n’roll acted as inspiration for your graduate CSM collection. Where have you found inspiration for this season?
Florencia: Well, this season is a mix-mash of all things Argentinean – from crocodiles to sea urchins, gaucho hats, riding trousers and wools from the Patagonia. I’ve been producing my collection in my home city of Buenos Aires, working with local manufactures and traditional products. So I hope you will see a slicker collection but I’m still experimenting with textures and silhouette.
FAULT: Textiles play a vital role in your design aesthetic. What sort of detailing can we expect to see at Fashion Week?
Florencia: This time there will be embroidered sea urchin spikes – some painted and some in their natural colour – masks and necklaces as well as interesting knits. I have used chunky virgin wool for coats and hot pants. There are also some reptile armour-like details in Cayman skin from Formosa.
FAULT: Which is your favourite piece and why?
Florencia: At the moment I am sea urchin obsessed! So I guess it’s the open back black and blue dress with embroidered spikes.
FAULT: How would you describe the Florencia Kozuch woman?
Florencia: To tell you the truth, I hope there is no Florencia Kozuch woman. I want my clients to buy my clothes and instantly make them theirs, mix them with what they love and wear them confidently. But if you need something more specific, you can say I design with a strong, independent, un-afraid lady in mind.
FAULT: What sparked your fascination with fashion?
Florencia: I’ve been observing what people wear from a young age, so I guess I didn’t know about fashion then, but I always loved clothes. As time went by I could only see myself doing what I do now. After that, I discovered fashion magazines, MTV and combined these with drawing. Fashion was my only option.
FAULT: What are your plans for the remainder of the year?
Florencia: Ideally I want to focus on the Spring-Summer collection. Whilst developing this Autumn-Winter one I keep having summery ideas, so my plan is to keep working.
FAULT: Are there any areas within or outside of the fashion industry that you would like to explore?
Florencia: At the moment I’ve been developing some jewellery, but I guess that’s still part of the fashion industry. I am really interested in learning to master leather – both exotic and traditional. There are so many possibilities and I am planning on exploring them in my future seasons.