With childhood afternoons spent watching her grandma and aunt work as tailors, a curiosity in fashion came early to Leonie Mergen, the designer behind Karabakh Collection. Fascinated by the practice, she remembers playing copycat on her own dresses, customising and experimenting throughout most of her youth. Unable to shake this interest, Leonie enrolled in Berlin’s International University of Art (ESMOD) for Fashion, where she earned her BA in 2014. Since then, the young designer has been spending postgrad life working on her own collection with a series of designs inspired by Azerbaijan and one of its regions in particular, Nagorno-Karabakh. Read below to learn more about her Laissez-faire attitude towards creativity, Azerbaijani culture and her upcoming collection.
How do you deal with the pressure of maintaining creativity?
To the contrary, I don’t feel the pressure to maintain my creativity permanently. Rather, I let myself be inspired by a general willingness and openness to aesthetic stimulation.
How did you first come across Azerbaijani culture and the region’s traditional costumes?
That happened while working for the tie manufacturing company Edsor Berlin, where I worked on a project that focused on patterns of the Karabakh carpet weaving style. I found the Azerbaijani culture so fascinating, from their costumes to the lyrical and musical heritage. And since then I have visited the country multiple times and done extensive research.
Which traditional materials did you use in your collection?
One the most important materials of the traditional clothing is leather, which plays an important role in the historical horse breeding and riding sector. Another traditional material that I have used is silk, which has been a valuable material in the region since 115 BC, being part of the Silk Road.
How much detail goes into the preparation of your show?
In terms of the collection design itself, I have gathered a great deal of impressions of the historical and traditional culture of Azerbaijan in the past 18 months. This was of essential importance, not only in order to be able to express the perceptions through my designs but also to define the atmosphere of the presentation as a whole, from the music to the lighting