Lina Michal

With her joyful, yet dark collection Heathen Hearts, fashion designer Lina Michal has earned herself a nomination in MUUSE and Vogue Talents Young Vision Award. We caught up with the designer who wants to stay forever young.

I’ve always been creative and restless, Lina says. I guess I could have ended up doing art or maybe creative writing, but I think the restlessness came into account when I fell for fashion. The very heart of fashion is change. I never want to stagnate, or allow myself a cemented view on what I do and who I am. I think it is important to evolve, that way you stay forever young.

– Because fashion so often is discarded as something superficial it has the ability to really affect us, as we don’t see it coming. We put our guards down and allow for it to be what it is. We can go to an exhibition and be truly moved by a work of art, but when we leave the gallery or museum that work of art is not really an integrated part of our lives anymore. But we open our closet every day to get dressed.

Lina’s fascination for fashion eventually brought her to Beckman’s College of Design in Stockholm, from where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in fashion design earlier this summer. With her exam collection Heathen Hearts she wanted to examine her Swedish heritage and modern man’s primitive urge to decorate oneself.

The very heart of fashion is change

– I noticed how I over the years was often drawn to what is, quite carelessly, referred to as ethnic design. There is a dilemma in the designers’ self proclaimed right to draw inspiration freely from what ever we want. It just seems a bit whiffy to, without reflection, make use of someone else’s heritage and identity. But then I realised that in order to explore this type of design I didn’t have to romanticise or exoticise an ethnic group. Instead I could dig from my own Swedish heritage, which is filled to brim with the same type of references.

– We have a long history of animism and it is still a living part of our culture. Less than hundred years ago it was common knowledge that nature had soul, and magic beings guarded the water, the trees, the meadows. Until this day we still decorate with birch leaves when we are celebrating big events in life. With my collection I wanted to convey the feeling of something joyful, organic, with just a notion of something dark and raw. And perhaps at the same time broaden the image of what Swedish fashion is allowed to be.

Lina Michal
Lina Michal.

The result was the joyful, yet dark collection with organic volumes and manipulated surfaces entitled Heathen Hearts. A collection that not just earned Lina her bachelor’s degree, but also a nomination in MUUSE and Vogue Talents Young Vision Award. The award is an international competition with the aim of finding the next rising design star, initiated by Vogue and the fashion label MUUSE, and the winner will have the possibility to see their designs produced and sold by MUUSE.

This year more than 300 designers from all around the world were nominated in the first round of the competition. In this round everyone with an interest in fashion can have their say by voting for their favourite designer on MUUSE’s website. From the fifty semi-finalists chosen by the public, Vogue editor Sara Maino will select ten finalists for a final round of voting taking place on Vogue’s website. The final winner will be announced in the end of September.

When things get tough, this is what you should do: Make. Good. Art.

For Lina, the nomination was a first step from the square one this summer has left her at.

– Right now the future is slightly fuzzy. This summer has definitely left me at square one. I’m no longer a student, I lost my home, and within two weeks of each other I lost my amazing little grandma and broke up with my boyfriend who’s been my best friend for six years. I felt like the absolute zero, with nothing to identify with. But my friend sent me a link to a youtube video of Neil Gaiman telling me that “Sometimes life is hard, things go wrong […] and when things get tough, this is what you should do: Make. Good. Art.” And then this competition came along and I got to lend out my collection to a shoot with Italian Vogue.

– At the moment I’ve got my eyes set on New York. It’s tricky to get there, with the visas-and-what-nots, but I’m creative and restless and I really need the change.

See Lina Michal’s collection Heathen Hearts and extracts from her sketchbook above. Here you see all the nominated designers in Vogues Talents and here you can vote for Lina Michal. The voting closes on August the 26th.