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Cutting Shapes, Building Volumes

Bosnia-born but Sweden-based designer Lamija Suljevic introduces to Dazed Digital her collection, inspired by her past and her passion for Parisian couture.

Even if you didn’t know that Stockholm-based Lamija Suljevic’s educational background was in pattern design, you could probably guess it by seeing the precise shapes and silhouettes of her creations. A fashion design graduate, Suljevic soon developed a strong interest in tailoring and decided to focus on pattern design and dressmaking enrolling into a course at the local Cutting Academy. After working with computer and manual constructions, Suljevic is currently studying digital sketching while developing her new designs.

Her Autumn/Winter 2010 collection features designs characterised by rounded hips and shoulder lines, tiny waists, high bust lines and exaggerated silhouettes that emphasise and distort the proportions of the human body, a trick used to explore the boundaries between beauty and brutality, dialectical images inspired by Suljevic’s Bosnian origins and by her passion for luxurious designs. Suljevic’s most recent fabric and crocheted designs seem to be the perfect synthesis between haute couture and prêt-à-porter.    

Dazed Digital: Where does your latest collection take inspiration from?
Lamija Suljevic: My origins and my past, both helped me expressing myself. I was born in Bosnia and had to flee to Sweden with my family when I was five years old because of the war. We never spoke about it during my childhood and I think fashion design is my way of dealing with everything I went through. I’m indeed rebuilding everything I lost and couldn’t say before through my collection. I conceive every choice I make – from the different fabrics to my label logo – as my personal way to tell my story.

DD: Some of your designs are very sculptural and you seem to use quite a few different techniques such as embroidery or crocheting to make them: do you feel more like a fashion designer, a sculptor or an artisan when you create and how important is the choice of the proper fabric in shaping your silhouettes?
Lamija Suljevic: I feel like a fashion designer, I respect craftsmanship too much to call myself an artisan. I guess it’s also too early in my career to do so and I have so much more to learn and prove. I was 11 years old when my mum taught me to knit and later on I discovered crocheting and started developing my designs through this technique. I see the relationship between fabric and silhouettes as very important, as well as the process that leads to a specific design. If I can’t find the right material I usually change the entire dress or design.

DD: What’s your favourite piece from your most recent collection?
Lamija Suljevic: I love them all, they are like my children to me, but I don’t think that I will ever forget in my life the process that led me to design the shoes. They are made in paper and it was fun but very challenging to make them. I designed quite a few shoes, but I had never used paper before. I didn’t focus on any special technique to make the shoes, but only tried to get the right shape. It was difficult to turn the paper into a soft material and get a sort of round shape on the front, yet I guess the really hard part was making both the shoes look exactly the same.

DD: Who has been the greatest influence on your career and who are your favourite designers?
Lamija Suljevic: My father. He stands for everything I believe in, that is hard work, integrity and patience. Among my favourite designers are Balenciaga, John Galliano and Yves Saint Laurent.

DD: According to you, what’s the fashion scene like in Sweden?  
Lamija Suljevic: I think it’s still limited. If you don’t work with black tricot and cheap mass production you are almost an outsider. At present my best customers are from Paris and New York.

DD: Who is the coolest Swedish designer at present?  
Lamija Suljevic: Sandra Backlund.

DD: Would you like to work for other fashion houses/designers?
Lamija Suljevic: Yes and no, my ultimate goal is in fact to make a living on my own designs. I love collaborations, though, and my next one will soon be announced on my website, so you will have to stay tuned!   

Lamija Suljevic will present an installation during the SCOPE Markt, a fashion focused exhibition organised during SCOPE New York, 3-7 March 2010.
Photography by Emma Jönsson Dysell