Interview with Designer Laura Schrandt of “Good Night Medusa”
“My motivation was never to make money I just wanted to work with the good people…”
Laura, can you give our readers a little more background about yourself and what made you take fashion more seriously and start creating? Where does that drive to be your own boss come from? I was born and raised in a nice town, close to Cologne, Germany, until I moved over to the UK last November. I actually never thought about making myself a designer, it just kind of happened. I started designing when I quit photography 18 months ago. I was in hospital for a long time, having an operation for heart disease and circulatory weakness; therefore I needed a new hobby, where I could just be my own and work in bed, so everything was completely handmade, every single stitch. Nowadays I can work with photographers and artists, I admired (and still admire) as role models from when I did photography, which is a really awesome feeling.
What is your brand’s philosophy? What is your vision for “Good Night Medusa”? Who do you have in mind when you design? Well, it was never about making money. In school, one of my favourite teachers taught me about Karl Marx, a German philosopher, economist and socialist. There really is no way to explain his theory in short, but his philosophy definitely influenced me a lot. When I started Good Night Medusa, my main goal was to produce an awesome portfolio, which I could hold in my hands one day. My motivation was never to make money I just wanted to work with the good people, that appreciate my style & do not try to change me. When I’m designing, I don’t really have anything or anyone in mind, I like to just let it flow naturally & see what happens as the result.
What is your favorite part of being involved in the fashion world as a designer? My favourite part has to be working with the people that I have always admired ever since taking photos. But yeah, definitely travelling and making new friends as well.
And… what do you find the most challenging part about working in the fashion industry? Acting completely normal when I have a #fangirlmoment? Just kidding, I think as soon as you are used to the working methods and routines of one country and start going international, you will soon notice that artists can work completely differently: teams can be five to ten times bigger than you are used to, and expectations can be way higher also. Finally one of the most challenging elements is to not get hung up with your own habits, and instead just appreciate how others work in their own ways.
If you could have any fashion designer as your mentor for a day, who would it be and why? If I would have to choose a really famous fashion designer, it would have to be Alexander McQueen (Am I allowed to choose someone who’s not alive anymore?). Otherwise, there are a few really nice latex lingerie designers from the UK, for instance: Eustratia or Elissa Poppy. I would definitely like to learn more about latex as a material for my future work, learning from experienced designers with a creative flair, would be the perfect starting point on my pursuit.
What motivates you when you are creating your designs? From where do you draw inspiration for your design? Has a project outcome ever surprised you? People often ask me that question. I really don’t know, it’s just a creative process. Sometimes photographers or stylists request a specific design collection, with my influence coming from their mood boards, although my final creation will often end up surprisingly different. Actually, I am working on a “Rainbow” project, where I am working with black sequins for the first time, which reflect every colour of the spectrum. This was a project that finished quite differently to how I first imagined. Honestly, I mostly just start work directly on my mannequin and tweak it until I get the result I desire.
How do you take your design from initial idea to finished product? How does inspiration turn into reality? I mostly get inspired by the materials themselves, which I track down whilst walking through shops or trawling through online stores, Pinterest is a big influence too. I rarely sketch a design beforehand unless a photographer or stylist requests a specific design, then the finished product may resemble the initial idea. My clients usually send me a mood board of the set design or mention which colours they want me to include, so I can be as creative as I want without too much restraint. If I’m working on something for myself, for example: a cocktail dress or evening gown – then I will always sketch my design first, I will then try to find the exact materials needed and if necessary I will adjust my sketches accordingly, to work with the material.
Which materials are you working with? How do you select them and what are your favorites? I normally work with handmade lace, chains and high quality elasticated lingerie straps. I just started working with cork leather, which is quite nice and kind of still innovative. I often use little jewellery pieces as well, sometimes gemstones, sometimes beads. Cork is definitely my favourite material right now, which I buy from a tiny local shop in Germany, where I also get my lingerie straps. The rest I get online or produce myself.
What do you consider as a ‘successful’ project? For me, a project ends with a publication. Therefore, a project is successful when I am content with the outcome and can add a few photos to my portfolio too. I’m also very pleased when I am able to network with new people, that I can collaborate with on future projects.
If “Good Night Medusa” could have any celebrity spokes model, who would it be? Probably Winnie Harlow, she is definitely my favourite model when I think about celebrities, as she radiates confidence in her own body and appearance. It happens so often, that I get feedback from my models like “I feel like I’m not naked at all.” My outfits can definitely boost your confidence and make you feel more seductive. Anyway, Dita von Teese would be a pretty good fit, if Winnie isn’t available!
What do you look for in photographers or models that you would do trade with? I definitely look for a good final skin retouch and an impressive edit. Experience in the fashion scene is preferred, or at least the potential for a good fashion editorial. As I am often working with nude models as well, it’s imperative that I research each photographer thoroughly, in case he has a “bad background”. I once had a photographer that started flirting and touching my models, needless to say, I have zero tolerance on that subject & the safety of my models is my top priority.
Share your wildest work story…! Back at the beginning of my label, I thought that having models with dreadlocks, as a metaphor for Ancient Greek Medusa’s hair of snakes, would be a good idea for a photo-shoot. So a friend of mine from Nuremberg organized a shoot with two beautiful tattooed models and I was really happy with the results for a long time, until a friend of mine sent me a preview video of a porn a few weeks ago, featuring one of the models. She has drastically changed her image since and is now taking part in some pretty weird, psychedelic porn movies, with a male “actor” who is tattooed from head to toe in black (Yeah, not a single body part is missing!) I only skipped through it briefly, but it was hard to miss some of the details, I’m still pretty shocked just thinking about it.
What projects are you currently working on? What is something you haven’t achieved but hope to in the future? I mentioned before that I am currently working on a “Rainbow” collection, the first photo-shoot is actually starting a few days before this magazine issue is being published. That will happen during my next trip to Berlin, where I will also be working on my “New Cork” collection. I would definitely like to work more often as a wardrobe stylist in the future, as I love combining my own pieces with other people’s designs, that’s something I sometimes get to do during my fashion tours, but I would love to do it more seriously in the future too.
In your opinion, what new idea or innovation is having the most significant impact on fashion design today? It’s hard to pin point just one thing, in terms of innovation 3D Printers have to top the list and are pretty cool as well, but they are definitely not having the most significant impact on fashion design today. Whereas environmental lifestyles, such as eco-friendly or veganism are becoming more prominent in the public eye and are having a significant impact on fashion design, as well as becoming a bigger priority for businesses too. I’m also happy to see upcycling is happening more and more in the fashion industry as well, which I really support, even when it can be such a difficult process, it’s a very inventive way of doing things.
Name one rule of style you think all women should break. Combining two different patterns or prints and patterns in one outfit! I myself just love the fashion of the early 90’s, I love vintage stores and always loved the clothing styles of Melissa Joan Hart in the series “Clarissa Explains It All”, which was one of my favourite series as a kid. There are just so many combinations, both, vintage and modern that work so well together!
What has been the most difficult aspect of getting your brand off the ground? What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your company? I wouldn’t say that my brand is completely off the ground, to be honest! I’m still developing the brand every day, expanding my influence and showing my work to a bigger audience. I haven’t found it very difficult, purely because I enjoy what I do and have the freedom to take Good Night Medusa into any direction that I want. I’m constantly shaping my brand and therefore its audience, with every new project is a new lesson for me.
Do you feel social media has helped your career? Any advice on how businesses can use social media to promote themselves? Definitely! It’s hard to create a brand nowadays without focusing on your social media. I was lucky enough to have really good contacts in the industry, thanks to social media before I started my own brand. I gained a lot of experience as a social media manager previously, which taught me that it’s all about contacts. On the same hand, social media platforms can be tough work to crack, as their algorithms change so often and they always have the power to lower your reach. I definitely prefer emails to Facebook or Instagram messages, as they are a lot easier to organise. Still, social media can give your brand huge impact, if you are active and on top of new trends – even just posting in Facebook groups. But more importantly you should find yourself working with the right influencers to be successful.
What are your favorite things to do in your free time? Probably not what you’re expecting to hear, but I love visiting trampoline places! Camping and travel top my list too although I always tend to organize photo-shoots when I travel, turning it into a business trip more often than not. I love to dance Ballroom and Latin, although I am yet to find my perfect place to practice, since moving to the UK. I still like taking photos sometimes, but nothing can beat a good old Netflix and chill day here and there.
One thing that bugs you about humans is that…? When someone uses the last of the toilet paper without replacing it, people who talk during films at the cinema and people who skip a song when it’s halfway through playing! Stuff like that drives me crazy.
What superpower do you wish you had? Why? Either the possibility to fly or Omnilingualism: the ability to understand every single language in the world. I still notice language barriers here in the UK sometimes; even if my English seems to be alright. My boyfriend is British and teaches me a lot, but here and there I still notice a few communication problems. Just imagine being able to speak any possible language you desire and how much easier and more in depth communication, when travelling around the world would be.
…Oh yeah, and flying is just awesome, no question!
Tell us one thing about yourself people might find surprising. It’s a pretty weird thing which people sometimes notice, especially when we work face-to-face for the first time together, but you might hear me randomly hiccup. I’ve actually had hiccups for over a year now, although it really doesn’t bother me, in fact it’s always a good conversation starter, it’s actually my secret for gaining new contacts!