Now Featuring Ilana Kohn
New York based designer Ilana Kohn’s clothes balance wild, original prints with clean, super simple lines. Diverse patterns range from Edwardian primness to dreamy ’70s abstraction, with sharp, smart color stamping it as Kohn’s own line.
To view and buy the limited edition print: Go Here!
MH: Your clothes balance very clean construction and shape with really intricate images and patterns. How did your interest in patterns develop?
IK: I’m actually trained as an illustrator and did that for close to a decade before I arrived in the world of fashion. That being the case, the in a sense, the prints really came long before the clothes!
MH: How did you make the leap from working in 2D as an illustrator to working in fashion and textiles, which, because they’re worn and move, seems like a bigger leap than just to three dimensions.
IK: Truthfully it was not easy at first! It took me a little while to get comfortable with creating prints on fabric; there are a completely different set of logistical hurdles when designing for fabric (and each type of fabric is different) than creating images to be printed on paper. There’s also the element of, ‘well I like this but would I actually wear it?!’..
As for making the leap to actually creating clothing, that was luckily something that felt very natural. That was honestly an easier transition than moving my illustrations to fabric!
MH: I enjoy how you mix bold bright colors and muted colors within the same season, and manage to make a collection “work” without relying on one color scheme to unify it. Who and what are your color inspirations?
IK: I’m glad you like that! Each collection always begins with the textiles and I’m always trying to think of them as a united composition. I was weaned on a lot of Milton Avery back in art school and have always loved his unexpected use of color and that’s something I always strive for. Sometimes at the end of the day though, not every print works out as expected and I have to move things around and make the best with what I have.
MH: What’s it like running a business in New York? What’s your relationship with other makers there, and with the “big” fashion industry?
IK: I’d say being a clothing designer in NYC really entails a lot of schlepping – bolts of fabric, samples, patterns, you name it – so I’d say running a business like mine in NYC right now is really, really sweaty. I love it so incredibly much though! Even feeling gross and sweaty. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
In a more general sense though, it’s really pretty amazing having all of these resources in the Garment District at my fingertips every day. I’m still pretty new to it all, but it truly seems that the Garment District is on the upswing after a long period of decline and is positioned to bring back made in NYC manufacturing full force.
Which leads me to the other makers. Of all the amazing resources we have here in NYC, access to each other has got to be on of the best! I’ve met so many wonderful and incredibly helpful people that have helped me to learn. I don’t know about big “fashion”, but the small niche I work in, people are amazing 99% of the time and more than willing to share information or just grab a coffee and chat with you.
MH: And what are your graphic inspirations? Some of your patterns remind me of Bauhaus artists like Gunta Stolzl, and others are more reminiscent of craft projects, like marbling, that my mom might have taught me…
IK: It varies so much! I definitely love the Bauhaus but for the Autumn/Winter 2013 collection I looked at a lot of Gees Bend quilts and indigenous textiles. I have a background in historic (architectural) preservation, so a lot of historical influence tends to pop in there as well. I’m a sucker for pretty much anything from the late 19th century through the 1970s. A lot of the time though, inspiration is much more random than that…It could be something I spotted on the subway that triggered an idea or an old sketch.