Esther, could you start by telling us a bit about yourself. What was your journey into the fashion industry? What sparked your interest in fashion design? My name is Esther Hofmann and I am a fashion designer based in Duesseldorf, Germany. My label is specialized in bridal and evening wear. I studied fashion design at FDI in Duesseldorf and graduated in summer 2016. Before graduation, I interned at Marchesa in New York, a well- known brand for high end bridal and evening gowns.
I have been very creative since my childhood. I took drawing classes and loved dressing up and when I was older, I discovered my interest in fashion. I wanted to put my creativity into practice so I decided to pursue a career in the fashion industry.
As a student, I already worked on building my own label. I focused on evening wear and cooperated a lot with photographers, models, hair& make-up artists and stylists all over the country. I did lots of research and worked on several projects besides those in class.
After graduation I started to offer customized bridal and evening gowns and this is what I do now.
What is your philosophy about the art of fashion? Fashion is art- it´s an expression of our personality and feelings. It has an influence on our appearance and it can help us to feel and look good.
For me, fashion is not all about trends. Of course, trends are essential for the industry and your work as a designer but I think it´s more important to be yourself, to be able to identify with what you wear and to feel comfortable.
Fashion should always underline your character and bring out the best in you.
How would you describe Esther Hofmann Design and it’s aesthetic? Is there anything people find characteristically original about your designs? The label Esther Hofmann is soft and feminine, elegant yet strong. It underlines a woman´s best attributes. Customers often describe my creations as ´a dream come true´ or ´fairytale-like`.
What type of woman do you have in mind when you are designing? When I am designing, I think of a woman who is aware of her strength and her beauty. A woman, who cherishes life, lives to the fullest and still wants more.
Imagine a modern woman, independent, focused, self-confident, creative, open- minded, fun- loving, courageous, elegant, graceful and strong.
How do you approach a new collection? Where do your ideas evolve from? When I approach a new collection, almost everything can be an inspiration. Of course, I still do my research, but for me it doesn´t make any sense to just follow common trends that I cannot identify with. Even if I tried, I always end up with my original idea, something that I discovered during the day, an experience or a feeling.
My graduate collection was inspired by a woman I met in New York. She taught me a lot about finding yourself, acceptance and the process of arriving at your personal destination.
This experience was so impressive that I used this state of mind to build a whole collection around it.
What is the timeline from having an idea to actually creating the product? Shortly Describe your design process from mood boards to picking out fabrics to production. Do you have any specific fashion rules when putting an outfit together? It always depends on different aspects. Most of the time, I have too many ideas but not enough time.
Sometimes a dress takes a couple of days, sometimes weeks and sometimes even months. A customized bridal gown normally takes up to about half a year to get finished. This process includes a lot of research, swatches, fittings and hand-sewing.
When I work on a collection, I create mood boards, do research for trends, colors and fabrics, develop swatches of fabric manipulation and samples before creating the original. These stages can vary in order and duration and can be repeated or approved several times.
Most of the time, I have a specific idea in mind, which suddenly pops up in my head. It can be everything from a specific silhouette, draping, fabric manipulation, color or a special design element I am fascinated by. And no matter what I do, I always end up with the idea from the beginning.
When putting an outfit together, for me it just has to be harmonious- that´s it.
What are your favorite materials and embellishments to work with? What captures your attention when looking for the materials you use in your designs? I prefer soft, flowing fabrics like tulle, soft lace, silk and chiffon. And I love details like beadings and trims.
The choice of a material for a design depends on how I want to use it. Light and flowing materials are great for draping or flowing skirts but an embellished, beaded lace is an eye catcher for a simple feminine silhouette.
To sum it up, I prefer materials that have a feminine character.
The world of fashion is pretty competitive. How do you stay positive and motivated in an industry that can be so tough? I am really passionate about what I do. Of course, this world is tough- it is hard work, every single day and it has ups and downs but if you find your own path in this business, it can be very fulfilling. I stay positive and motivated because I always want more.
I don´t try to copy anyone or try to adapt to something that is not me. I try to be myself and to make the best out of it. The fashion industry is one of the biggest worldwide and its diversity contains so many opportunities. You just have to find the right ones for you.
Esther, how would you define style? What does style mean to you? Style is an expression of your personality- as simple as that. Everybody has its own unique style so there are no rules to be followed. You need a good eye for what suits you best but a positive aura is even more important.
What do you wish people knew about the fashion industry? What do you think is the most common misconception? The most common misconception about the fashion industry is that some people think fashion is nothing but superficial. They also think you are kind of dumb when you work in fashion. This fact bothered me when I started but meanwhile it´s kind of amusing.
As I mentioned earlier, the fashion industry is really big. There are so many chances for everyone who is willing to work hard. You can create your own world and if you want to, you can actually achieve big changes.
How important is social media in development of your brand? Do you feel social media has helped your career and your brand? Social media is very important, even essential for the development of my brand. It is necessary to get in touch with people, potential customers, to establish important contacts, to stay informed about the daily business and it always opens up new opportunities. Social media definitely helped my career.
In your opinion, what new idea or innovation is having the most significant impact on fashion design? At the moment you can discover big changes in the development of fabric finishing. Especially for active wear, there are lots of innovations and new textiles on the market. This development is really fascinating and who knows, maybe we´ll all be wearing intelligent fabrics in a couple of years or even be able to print our own 3D creations at home.
At the same time there is a rising interest in sustainability and eco- friendly materials, according to the motto `back to the roots´. There is a new awareness about the origin and quality of our garments.
Who are some of your personal favorite fashion icons? I don´t have that one favorite fashion icon but I am definitely impressed by a lot of different characters that had and still have a big impact on the fashion industry.
Especially those iconic designers like Christian Dior or Alexander Mc Queen (just to name two of them) who actually created their own world and build an empire are really inspiring. They must have been geniuses and I always wondered how it would have been like to meet them.
Besides, there are a lot of photographers (big fan of e.g. Kristian Schuller and Ellen von Unwerth) whose work I definitely admire.
And then there are so many models, artists, stylists, blogger who clearly are an inspiration to me- mostly those authentic characters who have found their own way in the business.
What are your thoughts do you think of eco-fashion? Yes, I do think of eco-fashion and sustainability and I am very positive about it- it´s a very important subject that we should not ignore. Everybody should be aware of the fact that their consumer behavior has an impact on other peoples´ life. It is our responsibility to take care of our environment. For me personally, working conditions are very important. I don´t want any advantages at the expense of other peoples´ safety or lives.
Nowadays, there is a new awareness about consume and that´s why the sustainable fashion industry is experiencing kind of a boom these days.
What do you hope to explore as an artist in the future? Do you have any exciting upcoming plans that you would like to share with us? I am looking forward to new collections, collaborations and new experiences within the fashion industry. One upcoming plan I can share with you is a new bridal collection. The rest is still a secret but it remains exciting, that´s for sure.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your company? The biggest lesson I have learned since I started my company is that you have to be patient. You have to work hard and be very organized.
At first I worked like: ´failure is not an option` but then I learned that it is okay to fail (I know, this sounds like the stereotype of a motivational quote, but it is true). It is okay to fail, you actually have to fail and you will fail at something but it´s not acceptable to give up. And that´s the hardest part about it- to get back up, to learn from it and to do it in a different way next time.
What do you enjoy the most about being a fashion designer? I enjoy the passion, freedom, creativity and the varied work of this job. I can create my own world and it is up to me to decide which path I want to take. And it definitely never gets boring.
What is your vision of your perfect working day? The perfect working day for me would be getting up early and having a coffee while answering all inquiries and emails. Next, I would plan further projects, shootings or collections before I start working on my dresses.
The most satisfying thing for me is to get something done and to cross it of my ´to-do-list` (I am a big fan of to-do-lists I have to admit J).
In the afternoon, I would have a fitting- preferably the last fitting, when the customer comes in and tries on the dress to ensure that everything is done and there are no alterations to be made.
When the customer is satisfied with the result, so am I and this is always the most rewarding moment of my job.
One thing that bugs you about humans is that…? …some people have a restricted and limited point of view. Everything is black or white and they already judge before even knowing the background. Sometimes it helps to question something you don´t know before the final judgement.
What superpower do you wish you had and why? If I could choose a superpower, I would like to be able to be in different places at the same time, doing different things at once. Time is an important factor- time for family and friends, time for business and even time to relax- wasted time is something you´ll never get back.
Besides, I would like to be able to fly- I always wondered how this would feel like.
Tell us one thing about yourself people might find surprising. One thing that people might find surprising (and some of my friends are still laughing about the fact) is that I listen to Missy Elliott or dancehall vibes when I am really tired but have to meet deadlines. Then I turn up the volume, make myself a coffee and dance around my mannequin to stay awake while finishing my romantic, feminine and elegant bridal and evening gowns.