Sculptural, Emotional, Ever-changing - Paula Rosine
How did you get into fashion?
I was doing my masters in Middle Eastern Studies at Cambridge University in the UK and decided to go into design instead of pursuing the PhD. My initial hope was to do a design-based social enterprise in the Middle East. One of my best friends and I tried to launch one, and the business didn’t work out, although I have hopes of trying something similar again one day. I then jumped into different kinds fashion jobs – from creative to technical, tiny operations to large companies – and it’s been a really varied and interesting ride. When I discovered 3D modeling, I found a great way to merge my love for sculpture with fashion design and to challenge myself technically while pushing creative boundaries. I am especially excited about opportunities to work with new technologies and bring unlikely technologies to bear on fashion design. My love for 3D modeling was what eventually pushed me from garment design into accessories design, with a focus on jewelry.
Describe your aesthetic in three words
Sculptural, Emotional, Ever-changing
As a designer, what are your main influences?
For my work for other brands – and there’s a huge aesthetic range amongst them – I aim to get into the head of the target customer and set aside my personal aesthetic in order to create something that will sell. For that kind of work, I’m more likely to look at market research and vintage jewelry. For Paula Rosine, on the other hand, it’s wonderfully refreshing to be totally unconstrained. I’m not concerned about selling at all, to be totally honest, because this isn’t how I pay the bills. So I don’t think about practicality or trends or the market, and I take inspiration from things that are totally outside of jewelry. I look at fine art and art history and I’m even inspired by literature and stories. I frequent museums a lot and read obsessively; I never know where the next big inspiration will come from. For example, when I first worked on 3D modelled jewelry for one of my favorite designers out there, Geoffrey Mac, the inspiration came from architecture from Metropolis as well as Transformers toys and gaming consoles. I had just watched Metropolis, and I’ve never played video games but thought that Nintendo buttons look cool; sometimes random things find ways of coming together.
Describe the typical wearer of Paula Rosine
Maria Lassnig, one of my favorite painters, said “I’d rather be brash than elegant,” and I think that really applies to this collection. Someone wearing the pieces from the Kaali collection is unafraid to make a bold, maximalist statement – they are likely to have a quirky street style and frequent Kostome Kult parties. They probably love aerialists, dancing under black light, and color-saturated visual artists like Signe Pierce (I’m a big fan!). The next project I have in mind, however, might appeal to someone who favors a lower-key palette and more subtle jewelry pieces, which is the direction my personal aesthetic has gone lately. So I might start veering from brash toward elegant, but I think my work would always appeal more – regardless of how large or loud, quiet or small it is – to people who like sculptural forms.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your Kaali collection?
I was primarily inspired by Hindu art, especially surrounding my favorite of the Hindu deities, Kali. I explored Hinduism as a pre-teen and am still inspired by the stories and art I’ve encountered from that tradition. Coming from a family with a monotheistic tradition, I really loved that there are female deities in Hinduism, and Kali, as a creator and a destroyer, seemed especially badass. I wanted to merge tributes to her iconography with motifs from other faiths, nodding to a sort of interreligious utopia, so I also included references to things like crucifixion and the evil eye. It occurred to me at the time that some people might see this as irreverent in a way that is deriding religion. But my intention was to create a joyful and humorous expression of my indebtedness, as an artist and as a person who tries to life ethically and thoughtfully, to different spiritual expressions and philosophies that have impacted me.
Do you have any particular favourite pieces from this collection?
My favorite is the bracelet that consists of two female bodies holding each other by the feet. To create this piece, I made an avatar of a female human using 3D coat, a software that’s generally used to make characters for video games, not jewelry. My good friend Erin McClellan is the most amazingly talented video game designer, and he inspired me to try out some programs that you’d never think to use for jewelry. They’re much better suited than Rhino or the usual subjects, to me at least, for making complex organic forms. After sculpting, I rigged the body in Blender, which means that I put in “bones” and marked what parts of her “flesh” move along with different “bones,” so that I could reposition her into all different stances. I positioned the same body many different times to create the figures in this collection. It was totally experimental, so it was really hard for me at first but ultimately very fun. The first position into which I posed her was the backbend for this bracelet, which was the realization of an image I’d had in my head of a bracelet made entirely of bodies.
What can we expect from Paula Rosine over the next few seasons?
I’ve been focusing for a while on work for other brands and on portrait painting. When I get going again, I am thinking of taking a strong left turn and working in metal only and at a smaller scale. I’ve been more of a minimalist lately than I have at any other point in my life, so it might be nice to make more subtle pieces that can be worn by a greater variety of people. I’m more excited about breadth than depth, and I find aesthetic shifts energizing and challenging. I’ve prototyped some rings made with tiger heads so far, so I might include big cats. But I think the human figure is the most interesting thing out there – my painting and sculpture consistently draws inspiration from the human body – so I’ll probably still include figurative pieces. I’ll see where my imagination takes me!