Kaytee Papusza interview

So here is a little interview I did with Kaytee Papusza, of Papusza couture, which is something to feature in my up and coming magazine project which we have been set as part of our MA work. For those of you unfamiliar with Kaytee's work, check out her website: http://www.papuszacouture.com/ and blog http://papuszainbirdland.blogspot.com/. As for the rest, the interview is mostly structured around street style and what that means to Kaytee, since this is the topic of my magazine, but it should also give you a bit of an insight into what exactly makes her tick.

Q: What does street style mean for you/how do you interpret this idea?

Street style is an armor. We wear it as not only a shell to protect our exterior, but also as a representation of who we are inside, as an extension of our person setting upon our skin. It is about history-the things in which we place upon our bodies to wear on a day-to-day basis, to tell the world who we are, where we have been, and what we are experiencing. It is a voice of expression and emotion. A shell and articulation of oneself.
Q: As a designer, why is it important for you to consider the idea of street style when designing high fashion garments?          
More then anything for purposes of saleability. I think it is also important to consider who is going to be wearing your garments and where they are going to be seen. If you are thinking of them as functioning in the real world then you have to think of the things that people will wear on the street. I don’t always design from a real world perspective, but I think that has more to do with the world that exists within my head and my desire to pull others into this realm/merge it with the real world. I think there can be an intersection, and I am at a point in my career where I am searching for that fine line.
Kaytee Papusza
Q: You are clearly a designer inspired by many different things (darkness, nature, art, textures, etc), so how do you incorporate the idea of street style into your designs? Do you make a conscious decision to think about how people may wear your styles on the street every time you design?                       
Sometimes I make a conscious choice to consider if people would wear my designs on the street, but often times I do not. I am also a designer of art couture and costumes, so many times when I am designing it is not important to me if the pieces are ready to wear. That being said, all designers must think about wearability from a day to day standpoint, and so I do make pieces that are more ready to wear. Some examples would be my hand dyed Papusza Limb Tights. I also do at least a couple vintage inspired more street style-esque pieces in each collection. Currently I am collaborating with a friend who designs t-shirts (in addition to other street pieces), and reconstructing his shirts into dresses. His company is called Camino Clothing Company, and we will be presenting a line called “Cut Me Up,” to debut in future months.

All of the above: Papusza Limb Tights
Q: To what extent do you think it is possible to combine the avant-garde exclusivity of high fashion and couture design with the wearability and accessibility of street fashion?              
I think avant-garde can be fused with street in the form of smaller accent pieces, such as jewelry or separates. For example, an intense necklace or over the top jacket can easily jazz up jeans and a t-shirt. 
A street style design by Kaytee
Q:  What are your favourite high street/vintage (non-designer) stores and what do you yourself like to wear on a daily basis?   

My favorite places to shop are indie designer boutiques in Brooklyn or Manhattan, like Treehouse, Catbird, and Black Sheep Prodigal Sons. I also adore vintage, though normally find it to be to overpriced in vintage shops in the city and tend to opt for thrift stores and second hand shops for most my goods. Being an artist I live on a tight budget and generally cannot afford the luxury of high priced clothing.

Q: What kind of a woman are you designing for?

I consider myself to design for the art girls, those who are not afraid to stand apart and be seen. I do a lot of pieces that are more formal and make a loud statement. The girl I design for loves to wear color and be noticed. She loves the unusual, and things that are unique and often one of a kind.
A street style design by Kaytee
Another street style design
Q: What are your main inspirations?                            
Life cycles-death, birth, and all that is in between. I am inspired by things in nature, especially evolution, bones, animals and what becomes of them when they pass. I am inspired by the sea, the sky, and the intensity of the seasons. Polar regions provide an enormous source of inspiration for me, and as light and dark prevail in my work I think the polar night, the midnight sun and aurora borealis all shine through. Being that my background is in anthropology I consider that to be an enormous source of inspiration, and like to honor the tribal people of the world through the pieces I make, and the history of clothing being hand made and symbolic.
Q:  Do you think that collaborations of major designers with high street stores (e.g. Jimmy Choo/Lanvin for H&M, etc) has ultimately bridged the boundary between high fashion and street style and made the everyday consumer have the best of both worlds? Would you ever consider doing such a collaboration?                       
No, I think that having clothing mass produced so that they can be sold for a lower price cheapens the quality, thus making the clothing less of an art. My problem with chains like H&M, Target, Zara, etc. is that they take the art of fashion. We live in a world where fashion has become very homogenized, and we tend to forget the importance of having a unique sense of style. That is why you see so many people on the street wearing the same things. On that note, I would not likely do a collaboration with any type of department store, unless it was a store that is more high end, that would accommodate my vision to keeping things unique/limited edition/one of a kind.
Q: Do you think that street style as you see it is more about catering to a mass culture or more a way that a person expresses their individuality? Do you feel almost forced to have to draw inspirations from everyday wear in order to make a living? Is street style only about marketability or do you think there is more to it?

I do think street style is more about mass appeal, and sometimes I do feel forced to cater. That being said, I think it is important to push and defy that. It is hard for me to design anything I do not feel passionately about. I think in the mainstream street style is more about marketability, but there are people on the fringe that are trying to defy that and take it to the next level. Those are the people that will make fashion evolve. It is important to me to stay true to the vision that fashion does have an evolution and my work is a part of it.
More Papusza street style
Q:Do you see a world in the future where either street style or high fashion may dominate exclusively?                                                                                                      
Ideally there is a world where they can coexist. I think mass produced street wear will always have it’s appeal because it is more affordable, but I like to think that once we overcome the economic struggle we are in, art in fashion will find it’s niche again, and people will be willing to spend more money on one of a kind handmade goods. It’s about finding a niche market I guess more then anything else.
Q: What would you say are the main differences between the street styles of young women in New York and young women in London?      
I guess this is hard to answer. Living in New York I see many people from many different places and cultures/styles which have a tendency to bleed together. I think for any large metropolitan area this is the case.
My greatest thanks to Kaytee for giving this interview and helping me out :)

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