September is the most important month in the fashion calendar – it’s when Fashion Week runways take over and designers showcase upcoming collections to the world. Paula Knorr has presented in London since she exploded onto the scene with the impactful after-dark designs that earned her the NEWGEN prize in 2016.
The award is bestowed by The British Fashion Council who mentors the winner and offers financial backing for the following year. Perhaps more crucially, it results in instant credibility – past winners include London fashion game-changers like Christopher Kane and Simone Rocha.
“Initially I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to launch my own label,” Knorr says. “But winning NEWGEN put me on people’s radar and the response was so positive that it gave me the confidence to do so and I’ve never looked back.”
It’s now her fifth season presenting at London Fashion Week (LFW). “I love it because it accepts new designers as equals and that doesn’t happen everywhere,” she says. It’s the reason her brand is positioned here instead of in Germany where she grew up and it’s what fuels her ideas and excitement.
“I’m inspired by the strong women in London,” she says. “I want my designs to help the wearer to shine.” Her dazzling spring/summer 2019 collection is the perfect example of this. It features an array of striking textured fabrics – sequins, tulle and lamé – cut to voluminous asymmetric silhouettes and detailed with ruched panelling. Every piece is made to empower the woman wearing it and to adapt to her body shape for a look that becomes unique when worn.
When it comes to casting runway models to reflect her message, Knorr’s criteria is clear. “I look for strong women whose personalities shine and who are a little more mature,” she says. “I don’t think my customer can relate to teenage girls walking down the runway.”
The spring/summer 2019 set was also designed to complement the collection, which was styled on the night by Hunger magazine’s fashion director, Kim Howells and featured Swarovski crystal detailing in places. Dark lighting, mirrors, metallic detailing and a live DJ set a scene that felt reminiscent of where the clothes would be worn – at the most fabulous of parties.
“The biggest challenge for me is making something that will work in the real world,” Knorr says. Nearly all of her collection features a jersey back panel which sits close against the body and allows the looser layers to have some element of structure. It’s a look that’s universally flattering and comfortable to wear. “People have to be able to move, but ultimately the idea is that glamourous design can be enjoyed by everyone.”
Knorr’s inclusive approach and messaging is her main passion and it’s something that she feels is reflected in London’s approach to Fashion Week more so than in any other city. For the event to progress, she says its key to continue exploring the idea; “As long as it [LFW] continues to showcase and nurture new talent and celebrate a more diverse approach to design, it’s something that I’ll want to be a part of.”