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3 Jan

Paula Mihovilovic conjures couture from the style spectres of

We meet up with the designer on modernising the glamour of the Nineteen Fifties, One Direction fan fiction, and her corrosive Scorpio tendencies

Fashion is sometimes called a vessel for private reinvention, harbouring the facility to shed, inhabit, and experiment with different identities. But Paula Mihovilovic’s graduate collection at Central Saint Martins offered up another idea: that individuals are ceaselessly haunted by the spectres of their past regardless of the efforts they could make to embellish and disguise themselves. On the runway, ghoulish body doubles loomed over models, free-floating from bustiers, bustle skirts, and disco leggings. The entire thing was a seance of mish-mashed historical references, with Mihovilovic whipping layers of transparent fabric into overblown ballgowns, organza hoodies, and sheer, photo-printed balaclavas. “My collection marries our digital age with the golden age of couture,” she says. ”I seek to bring the glamour of the past to the current.” Think Charles James, accented with the holographic quality of an Instagram filter.  

This phantom thread was perhaps first sewn by her parents, who founded Skandal (a then-popular, but now-defunct) fashion brand within the 90s. “I didn’t have many friends, so I spent most of my time hanging around my parents’ studio while the seamstresses taught me to make dresses for my dolls,” she says. “On one hand I do it for myself, then again, I do it to honour my parents, who’ve fought so hard to present me the chance to pursue my dream.” Mihovilovic’s mum now lives as a 1,368 year-old vampire, which she announced on a Croatian episode of Come Dine With Me. It’s a preternatural bloodline that seems to have surfaced within the designer’s obsession with murder mystery podcasts, vintage wedding dresses, and Slavic folklore – and one which’s attracted the eye of the British Fashion Council and the Sarabande Foundation, each of which have helped to fund Mihovilovic’s studies.

Below, we meet up with the designer on modernising couture, One Direction fan fiction, and her corrosive Scorpio tendencies. 

How and why did you first get into fashion? 

Paula Mihovilovic: Through my parents. They were the creators of the preferred clothing brand in Croatia. My father was a business-minded man. My mother was his creative-minded partner. They were extremely busy and brought their work home loads. I, on the time, didn’t have many friends, so I spent most of my time hanging around my parents’ studio with the seamstresses who taught me learn how to make dresses for my dolls. As I grew up, I realised that I could dress myself like I dressed my dolls. I discovered fashion titans like John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, and decided that I would like to pursue fashion at the highest tier level like them. On one hand I do it for myself, then again, I do it to honour my parents who’ve inspired me and have fought so hard to present me this chance to pursue my dream. 

What are a few of the obsessions you come to time after time? 

Paula Mihovilovic: My creations are centered around women as individuals. I enjoy envisioning my designs on probably the most glamorous woman you see on the road or at a celebration. I would like to intensify her beauty no matter who she is. I have the desire to make the gloves, the hats, and the dresses she wears. This deal with individuality drives me to practice millinery and couture. 

I would love to think that you could see my individuality and creativity inside my work. I often present my work modeled by myself on Instagram. Instagram is where I curate my fantasy, whatever the norms of on a regular basis life. I design, I make, I style. I take advantage of the platform as an area where I can curate an aesthetic which I think is 100 per cent representative of myself and the ladies I would like to decorate. When in a state of doubt and lack of inspiration, I all the time like to return back to my IG account to refocus myself. 

Are you able to guide us through a few of the inspirations behind the newest collection? What are a few of the themes you desired to put forth? 

Paula Mihovilovic: My moodboard for the newest collection consisted of Charles James, Charles James, and Charles James, with a touch of Cristóbal Balenciaga. My focus was to reinterpret Nineteen Fifties formal wear in a contemporary way. I sought to bring the glamor of the past to the current; I did this by taking the silhouettes of the Nineteen Fifties and pairing them with current concepts in fashion. My collection marries our digital age with the golden age of couture; I mix crucial accessories of that period, reminiscent of headpieces and jewellery, with modern garments reminiscent of ski jackets and leotards. My motivation is to bring back glamour of the Nineteen Fifties to the streets of London, Paris, and even Croatia. It’s my dream to reincarnate gowns and hats as joggers and bomber jackets. 

What do you think that individuals are more likely to misunderstand about your work?

Paula Mihovilovic: That I only have the desire to make large dresses. 

Which piece(s) are really totemic of the gathering as an entire? 

Paula Mihovilovic: The transparent layers, which I styled on top structural dresses, created an illusion just like the augmented filters that we use on social media. 

When did you first grow to be aware of the facility of fashion? Did you’ve gotten a freakum outfit if you were growing up? 

Paula Mihovilovic: My power outfits when growing up were wedding dresses. Definitely scared away a whole lot of guys with them. 

Would you design Rishi Sunak’s next TV search for £10,000? What would you design lol? 

Paula Mihovilovic: Yes, because I’m broke. I can see him in a ballerina tutu with knee-high boots covered in spikes!! 

What’s your weirdest web obsession? 

Paula Mihovilovic: Murder mystery podcasts.

Essentially the most embarrassing picture/screenshot in your camera roll? 

Paula Mihovilovic: A continuous scroll of the One Direction fan fiction that I used to read from seven years ago but have yet to delete.

Essentially the most recent note in your Notes app?

Paula Mihovilovic: Nuclear power plants within the Republic of Croatia yes or no? Disclaimer: I cannot remember the context of writing that note… 

Your weirdest comfort food? 

Paula Mihovilovic: Salad with sugar on top.

The worst advice you’ve ever been given? 

Paula Mihovilovic: My 93 year-old grandma once told me: “Paulaaaaa, don’t quit your pussy until you’re in your late 30s!” 

Who’s your nemesis? 

Paula Mihovilovic: Peanuts (deadly allergic).

What’s your star sign and are you typical of that sign? 

Paula Mihovilovic: It’s Scorpio. A fast Google search says they don’t draw back from conflict and might surprise others with their brutal honesty. For higher or worse, that’s pretty accurate of my personality… 

Pettiest thing you’ve ever done? 

Paula Mihovilovic: I put laxative in my flatmate’s milk, it was well justified, imagine me!!!! 

What Dazed headline would you be? 

Paula Mihovilovic: The Dress Artist Confronting Her and I. 

Who can be in your nightmare blunt rotation? And your dream blunt rotation? 

Paula Mihovilovic: In my dream: Myself.

In my nightmare: Myself.

What would your ghost outfit be? 

Paula Mihovilovic: A transparent Charles James “Clover Leaf” dress.

What do you reckon you’re most definitely to get canceled for? 

Paula Mihovilovic: Telling an inappropriate joke.

Title of your biography? 

Paula Mihovilovic: 20 Large Gowns in My 20 Sq Ft Apartment.

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