Alumni Stories: Louise Körner, International Fashion Designer
Louise Körner is the founder (and namesake) of one of the most exciting up-and-coming fashion lines in recent years. After quick stints with likes of The English National Ballet, Kinder Aggiuini, Tom Ford, Puma Black Label by Hussein Chalayan and MUUSE, she launched her her own brand – LOUISE KÖRNER – in 2012. Since then, the designs have won prizes and featured in numerous fashion magazines such as Swedish ELLE and Italian VOGUE, music videos, fashion films, on celebrities, royalties and fashion profiles around the world.
The star designer accredits much of her achievements to her eye-opening experiences of living and studying in London. It is here that she first encountered fashion – she did a foundation year at Central Saint Martin followed by studies at the renowned Istituto Marangoni
London – and where she chose to launch her own line of clothing. CampusTales spoke to the young star designer to ask her about her motivations, inspiration and how her international background has been a driver in her success.
Tell us a little bit about young Louise; where did you grow up and what were your interests as a teenager?
I am Swedish but I grow up in Belgium and went to a Scandinavian School outside Brussels. Therefore, my interest for travelling, new cultures and meeting new people has always been strong. Fine art was always my strongest subject in school and I even did all my siblings’ Art homework with pleasure. I think it was because it was so effortless and liberating to draw. And with fashion it has always been there because when I was really young, my mother’s wardrobe was a favorite spot, where I could try things on and play different characters.
At what age did your interest in fashion mature? When did you decide that this was the thing you wanted to dedicate your studies and career to?
My love for art & design has always been there but I couldn’t pin-point what I wanted to specialize in. That’s why I decided to study Foundation in Art & Design at Central Saint Martin in London. I actually thought I was going to study architecture or product design. However, I was advised to specialize in fashion & fashion prints based on my portfolio and that’s how I got into fashion design on a more serious level.
What inspired you to pursue university studies outside of Sweden? Why did the UK appeal, and what drove your decision to ultimately choose Istituto Marangoni for your undergraduate degree?
Since I have always been living abroad it was such natural thing to study outside Sweden. Additionally, London is the capital of creativity and design and I wanted to be part of that. Istituto Marangoni is highly regarded within the industry and their facilities looked incredible when I visited their campus for an open day. I loved that their key goal was not simply to push creative boundaries but also to prepare students for the realities and challenges of working in the fashion industry.
Louise speaking at her alma mater, Istituto Marangoni
What was student life in London like? What did you enjoy the most about your time at Marangoni?
Being a student in London is very different to being a student at a big university campus outside of the city. London can be quite intimidating and overwhelming for a young 18 year old but I’ve always loved the challenge. The independence, responsibilities, people I met, events and unique exhibitions have all been incredible. One project I particularly enjoyed and which kicked my career off was a Master Project (That I wasn’t supposed to do since I am not a MA student) with the English National Ballet and David Bamber from Tom Ford. I was chosen to help them design a new set of costumes for the remake of Ballet Russes famous ballet The Firebird.
I loved that their key goal was not simply to push creative boundaries but also to prepare students for the realities and challenges of working in the fashion industry.
From Hussein Chalayn show (where Louise worked previous to launching her own brand)
Since graduating as an honor student from Istituto Marangoni, Louise has gone from strength to strength, diving head first into the world of fashion design. Most recently, she was named SWEDISH FASHION TALENT of THE YEAR at Stockholm Fashion Week 2016 – one of many accolades under her belt.
Since graduating from Marangoni, you’ve made very impressive progress in your career as a designer, having launched your own brand LOUISE KÖRNER. What made you take this bold step, and what has this journey been like?
I always wanted to have some experience in the industry before starting my own label. After being chosen to collaborate with the English National Ballet and David Bamber, I did another ballet with the same choreographer. That led me to my designer position at PUMA Black Label which was a collaboration line with the incredible designer Hussein Chalayan. This opportunity gave me insight into how a big corporation works while working out of Chalayan Fashion Studio in east London.
My next step was to create four collaboration collections with Danish brand MUUSE. My creative direction and designs were directly put to the test. This project proved that there actually is a market for my designs – and there it was! I became the best-selling designer in the company, which gave me the confidence to start my own label. The biggest challenge when starting my own label was to start thinking like an entrepreneur and business person. I realized pretty quickly that being only a designer is not enough. You have to be very focused, set up targets and strategies and I had no idea about this when I started! I have never learned as much in such a short period of time as when I started my own label.
What are three things you know now that you wish you had known when you first launched your fashion career?
Try to get as much experience as possible before starting your own label, be open to new ideas and changes of direction. It’s never going to be a straight path and therefore be flexible. Be a fast and efficient problem-solver. Problems pop up all the time and therefore you have to come up with quick solutions.
Be open to new ideas and changes of direction. It’s never going to be a straight path and therefore be flexible.
Louise and her designs featured in Plaza (leading fashion magazine in Sweden)
Final question: if your life was unconstrained, if you had no financial limitations and no immediate responsibilities, how would you choose to spend your next year?
I would love to be my own investor and not have to give away any equity in the business. I would start employing incredibly talented people to build a strong team and give them amazing salaries. I would get a beautiful studio in an industrial warehouse where we could combine our own shop with a showroom on the ground floor. And, importantly, I would be investing in a sustainable digital printing machine!
Check out the official Louise Körner website
for more information!
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