Talents to Watch: Petra Metzgerextended interview with the up-and-coming designer

Petra Metzger believes in strength – and that strength is reflected in her fashion. "A woman who has something to say and a character for herself," is her ideal customer, and independent women. Those ones who are not afraid to make a statement nor think they have to be "this pretty, decorative doll next to a man."
You might have read our Petra Metzger "Talent to Watch" piece, in Derzeit's "Orbital Uprise" issue. For those of you who'd like to get to know even more about her: Here is our full conversation with the London-based designer. We talked to her about the young designer's next steps.

Where are you from?

I'm from a small town near Stuttgart, Tuttlingen, I grew up there and moved to Australia when I was 17. It was kind of my first time living abroad, learning another language, and then I went back and did an apprenticeship in the area, there used to be quite a big textile industry. I did my apprenticeship there and then moved to London.

When did you move to London?

I moved to London in 2003 to do the Foundation diploma (at Central Saint Martins). After the Foundation I worked for a year here in London for some designers and then I did the BA.

How did you get started in fashion?

I always loved drawing and playing with dolls and fabrics, so I've always had this kind of interest. I wasn't really good in school, I thought I'd have to do the "Abitur", in a traditional way but I don't need to waste time studying things that I don't need. I decided to do an apprenticeship, so that was really how I started. It was a good move!

So now that you've just graduated with your MA from Central Saint Martins, is there anything you feel that you'd still like to learn?

I think now there are things I need to learn that you don't learn in school. I'm working on some small projects, but the main thing for me now is setting up my own business, there's quite a lot you need to know about and think about, like marketing, how to actually communicate your ideas and get them across to the person who would like to buy your things. You don't really learn these things in uni, but I guess you're always learning. You never stop learning, hopefully!

How would you describe your design philosophy? What are you aiming for with your designs?

I'm not aiming for a quick trend but something that someone would buy just because they just really love it. Right now I'm working on the concept of my own brand.

I noticed that between the two collections of yours that are available online – one from 2009 and one from last season – you still use a lot of very strong geometric shapes, but whereas in the earlier collections the shapes seemed to open up the body and use the body as a basis, in your last collection the forms were very prominent and kind of closed off the body a little bit, had their own very strong silhouette. Will you be continuing with that kind of design focus?

Yes. I think that in my BA collection I felt like there was this one collection, and I had to put all my ideas in, but doing the MA I learned that if you have a strong idea, it's about narrowing it down, and really saying this one thing that you want to say. I think in the MA collection I managed to get down to the core. I'm quite pleased with the progress of my work.

Who do you imagine wearing your designs? Who are you designing for?

Modern women. Independent women who are not afraid to make a statement, who don't think they have to be a pretty, decorative doll next to a man. A woman who has something to say. Probably she's quite happy in her sexual life as well, I think that's quite an important aspect. Someone who is balanced and strong, knowing what she wants and needs, that is the woman I have in mind.

You mentioned a collaboration. What do you have coming up next, design-wise –beyond building your own business and those kinds of projects?

I am working on a collaboration, it's going to be a photo-shoot/film-shoot, working with two artists and a model, and I'm really excited about that, because for me it's quite a new experience. Then I am working also on a small project: T-shirts for China and Japan.

So is it London for now, or do you think you'll end up coming back to Germany at any point?

No.

No?

No, for two reasons, because I've been here in London for so long now, and I think that if you work in fashion you need so many aspects: You need so many people, and if you have a good network, from where you can get your fabrics to machinists to people in PR and people in the industry. The network that I have here now is quite important and if I were to move I would have to start all over again. Second of all I think there's a certain pace in London which is quite healthy for fashion, it's really fast-moving, it's not a comfortable city like Berlin. I love Berlin, and I would move to Berlin just because I love the city, but I think it would not be beneficial for my work, because it's more chilled.

Interview by Tara Dominguez
Photo (studio) by Olin Brannigan / model: Rui Liu / make up & hair by Yura Do

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