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Student Spotlight: Paolina Russo

Friday 11 November 2016
Words Spindle

Studying Fashion Design Knitwear at Central Saint Martins, Paolina Russo creates fun, vibrant and colourful clothing. Her playful approach has seen her create explosive designs, with spectacular prints, multicoloured knitted garments and the use of numerous materials; from string, cheerleader-esque pom poms, what looks like pipes and tubes and of course, wool. Combining textures and styles, Paolina’s designs are highly experimental and innovative. With her work having been featured in i-D, No Substance, Editorial Magazine and 1 Granary, Paolina is a talent to keep your eyes on in the design sphere, and we recently caught up with her to learn more about her degree and what inspires her on a day-to-day basis.


What made you want to study Fashion Design Knitwear at Central Saint Martins?

I did my foundation at CSM, working to eventually apply to a fine art course, like painting or sculpture. But while studying foundation I had the opportunity to try out other pathways in design and discovered that the way I work with materials and colour felt more natural when I applied it to fashion. I work with a lot of colour and texture and it also happened very naturally that I would also work really well in the Fashion Design Knitwear course. It is a course that really allows me to explore creating innovative textiles, but in the context of fashion and the body.

What inspires you and makes you want to design?

I have always been inspired by painting and sculpture. What I love about design, and more importantly making, is it allows me to access an inner creative instinctive-ness that I feel gets lost as you grow older. There is nothing more fun and freeing than making things with your hands, responding to materials and mediums without hesitation. Making for the sake of loving to make beautiful things.


What projects have you completed on your degree?

The past two years have been filled with a lot of fun and challenging projects. I lot of projects in my first year had to do more with learning and finding what we like as designers and artists. I really felt really strongly of my aesthetic and was finding different ways to express it through pattern cutting projects and textiles. In my second year, I thought it would be more important to try out new things and experiment with my tastes. What I found in the end is that although I worked with new inspirations and new materials, as well as working on group projects, in the end what I was creating still felt very me.


Did you have a favourite project, or a piece of work you’re most proud of?

I am most proud of a project I did called ‘Future Bloom’, where I worked on a collection with 5 other classmates. It was a project focusing on sustainability in fashion, and how to use discarded materials and transform them into textiles and garments that are unrecognisable. Following the idea of a world where real nature is replaced by man-made nature which is being rebuilt by a group of future farmers. Using materials such as discarded car seat leather, old VCR tapes and recycled plastic packaging, I developed textiles and garments which these future farmers wore. It was really fun for me because I could explore my love for using unconventional materials and recycle them to develop new sustainable materials.


How would you describe your work?

Treating fashion as a form of sculpture and image making.

What do you want to say with your designs?

I want to develop designs that are intriguing to look at and wear. Everything I do I want it to be fun and have an air of nostalgia to it of something childlike.


What are you currently working on, or what’s next?

I am currently on my placement year at uni, and am interning in Paris. I hope to travel later next year to visit my mothers side of the family who live in the Philippines, before going back to school to start my final year.

What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learnt on your degree?

The best thing I have learned is to work and collaborate with the people around me and to always be seeking this. I find the best inspiration and work comes from really great and creative people working harmoniously together. It is a great opportunity to take advantage of, especially whilst studying and being surrounded by other creative people.


Do you have a dream project for the future?

My dream is to create fashion for the purpose of image making and story telling. I am not looking to create pieces that can be so easily reproduced. I really appreciate artisanal craft and time, and always want my work to incorporate these things.


To see more of Paolina’s work, visit www.paolinarusso.com.