She got to design completely by accident. That is maybe why she has become one of the best fashion designers. She has conquered Paris and now her fashion models are enchanting Czech women. So far, she has been managing it masterfully.
Fast confession: Kateřina Geislerová
You used to say that the stores offer nothing for normal women. Can you explain that to me?
Most fashion designers create clothing prototypes on fashion models. One of the reasons may be that not all fashion designers who design clothing also make it. That is why it looks as it does. When your size is 34 or 36, everything looks great on you. But not after that.
Why do you actually make clothing for women who have curves instead of for fashion models, for whom it is easier to design great clothing?
I started from the scratch. I had studied fashion design for two years, but then I realized that I want to work on my own. So I started unpicking all clothes, trying to figure out the basis of it. I had to grasp the actual tailoring process and once I did, I started designing my own patterns. Since I had absolutely no money and since I would have to hire a model, I began to make the patterns for myself instead. My size was 36 or 38, however, with curves. Basically, I had no choice.
Was it also related to the fact that you did not like the selection in the stores?
That is true. Even though I had a normal figure, I felt almost nothing looked good on me. It would take me forever to find nice pants that would make my figure looking good, or a dress that would emphasize my hips, make nice shoulders and hide my bottom. I gradually realized that the well-known brands do not basically fit everybody. That is why I have always tried to design clothing for women with curves, since women who look for clothing that would look great on them often cannot find it.
Back to unpicking the clothing. How much did you have to unpick before you figured it out?
I had been unpicking for many years (laughing). I would unpick women’s as well as men’s clothes. For example, when I tried to design collars or some other, more complicated pieces, well, two years of a design school is not really much, so I had to make up for that somehow. I studied with people who had been in the field since they were fifteen and thus acquired all the basics. I was the only one who knew absolutely nothing. Even today I actually do not understand why they accepted me there.
They probably saw your potential!
It may be so, since after two years I had the best results from among everybody in our class. I worked really hard for two years because I loved it. As a result, in two years, I made up for everything the others learned in ten years.
You are saying you worked really hard. However, to make yourself known is very important as well – having a famous model, contacts, etc. certainly helps. But despite the fact that you did not have any of that you managed to open a boutique in Paris! So was it all about diligence or luck?
I sincerely believe it was purely my diligence and the fact that I found my own style, which was quite unique, very quickly. I do not follow trends or what people wear on the streets. Instead, I have been always interested in the woman’s body, so I have always designed my work for this woman’s body, to make it more beautiful. It may sound like a cliché, but it is really what I have always strive for. I really wanted to be creative but I did not know how, so I picked a piece of fabric, threw it over a dummy and began the process. Indeed, thanks to my shortcomings I began to be devoted to my own design, did not do any compromises and followed my dreams. It was a great passion for me, so I could not have done it otherwise anyway.
Are you a goal-oriented person?
It came more from my heart, rather than me wanting to make it at any price. That is really not me. I want to do only what I like to do. I always wanted that and in Paris, I did not know anybody. I was an eternal student there and I did not know anybody in the fashion field. I had nobody to help me to last. Whenever I knocked on a door, they would always tell me: “Well, but you are just starting. Come back, if you last three years.” However, if you last three years, you will not need them though.
And how did you last then?
Only thanks to my clients who bought some clothes and were happy with it, so they came back and brought their friends as well. Gradually, my showroom became too small for me, so I opened a boutique.
How long did it take before you opened you boutique?
I graduated from the school in 2001, did one year of internships and started my brand in 2003. I opened my boutique in 2007. So it took four years.
However, you do not live in France right now. Are you back here permanently or temporarily, and do you plan to return to France?
I live day by day. I have a two-year old son, so I’m currently with him. My family is here but I go to Paris every two months. My son has been there already several times. It is only hour and twenty minutes to Paris, it is basically behind the corner, it is almost like the metro (laughing). I go back and forth.
Is it harder to break through abroad or here?
Depends what you mean by “break through”. One thing is to organize fashion shows and to have beautiful pictures in all magazines but not to make living doing so. Another thing is to make living doing it. There are many fashion designers who you never see in the magazines but who make living doing it. They are just not that visible. Depends how you perceive it. Every day I am thankful that I can do what I like to do, I am grateful for that -:). I like challenges and I strive to continue going forward.
Are you currently working mostly for the Prague clientele?
I focus more on Prague now, it is easier. I have some 13 or 14 years of work in Paris behind me, so the challenges are greater for me here right now. And I already had the opportunity to have a showroom and a boutique in Paris. It is true that to last in Paris is something unbelievable since there are literally thousands of fashion designers there. Here there are just tens of them it is a small pond. However, if you do it with all your heart, maintain your style and make high-quality clothes, you will always find your clientele.
I admit that whenever I see a fashion model wearing your dress, I know it is from you since your style really is recognizable. Have you ever be tempted to kind of move away from it?
I feel that every new line of mine is something completely else, from material as well as color perspective. I make many models now that I would not have made five years ago. Today, I feel I would like to do something that would not be so obviously of mine design. But somehow it is not working (laughing). It is deeply in me. I strive to ensure that every single piece of my clothing makes women beautiful. I does not matter if it is a fitted dress or an oversized coat. Even an oversized coat has to have a pattern that makes the given woman taller and not wider. She must look good and not like a plump lady.
What is actually your current line?
I just made spring/summer 2017 pictures. The line is called Sway. A sway is surfers’ expression when they catch a wave. The line in Czech is called “Na vlně” (on the wave). It is the very first time I am doing color motives. This line is completely wild and I had lots of fun preparing it.
You current “house model” is Simona Krainová?
You could say so, but it is more based on our friendship and on the fact that I like Simona’s style a lot. Her style is simple, however she always adds something small to it, something that makes her a lady with rebel elements. Moreover, she is able to present any model well, and even when it is sometimes Rock’n’Roll from her, she remains a lady, and that is what I appreciate about her very much. Whatever she puts on from among my clothes looks good on her.
Has anybody ever try to persuade you to design in a different way?
Yes, when I was starting. They wanted me to do ready-to-wear clothes, so I could be sold in stores and even have sponsors. But I relatively quickly realized that if I go this direction, it will be very hard to maintain good quality and my style. Fortunately my clientele was relatively extensive and I decided to work just for this clientele. I even do not want to do festivals any more. I am not a fashion designer who has to have her clothing all over the world.
What do you actually think about the fashion weeks that take place in Prague?
The first time I participated in it was 2012. Since then it has been getting better and better. The rhythm, twice a year, was kind of difficult for me to manage with my little baby. However, I keep doing it since it is really wort it. The quality is going up and it is great. Not only for fashion designers but also for the visitors, who can see that they do not have to go anywhere far to find well-designed clothing.
What is driving you forward?
I am still curious, I locate new materials and I always look forward to what I am going to make, because I create instinctively and do not have any line thought-out in advance. I love the moment I get up in the morning and think what I am going to do that day.
Have you ever had a period you could not think of anything new?
Not really. But there were times I was overworked because my work pace was crazy. When you design a model and another model comes out of that, and another and you cannot stop it. That was unbelievable adrenaline for me, but suddenly it was too much and I could look at fabric, sowing machine or scissors for while.
How long did it take?
I do not exactly know. Maybe there was also the moment when I started designing in Prague. New challenges, new market, unknown people, and the things would come on their own and I was not able to say no. I felt it on the streets, in the people. And suddenly the beautiful dynamic Paris started to disappear, people were tired, and the general depression made me tired.
What has changed with the arrival of you son?
It may be surprising but I do not feel he has changed or limited my life. To the contrary, I have to thank him that I finally do not work until midnight and do not work full time, because I want to be with him. Sometimes, in the morning, I do not want to work at all. That had never happened before I had him. I used to have one week of vacation a year. Since my son was born, I have been working less.
Is it fair to say that thanks to your son you are able to say no now?
Yes! That is a big difference. I can say no now.
One could say that you have fulfilled all your dreams. Nevertheless, is there anything else you would like to still achieve?
I enjoy every day of my life. It is great to have big plans, however, my life is currently so full and everything has been falling in its right place so far, so I am currently completely satisfied. Nevertheless, in the far future, I would like to have my own fashion house, dressmaking business, where ladies would come to check fashion models who would show them entire design lines, from which the ladies would choose a model they want. We would then saw it for them and the ladies would get a full service. Direct contact with clients has always been beneficial for me and only thanks to this kind of intimacy I have got where I am now. I see what ladies long for.
What do women long for then?
Ladies who know their style like to show it. It means that most ladies who come to me want to be women with a capitalized W. They are women who want to be seen and who do not mind that the clothes they wear cannot be found anywhere else. It is clothing that emphasizes women’s curves.
That means self-confident women.
Some of my customers are self-confident women. However, when women who are a little shy visit me, I advise them what looks the best on them. They get a positive feedback from their friends and they come back. I have some clients who used to want to wear only black, lose sweaters and wide pants. Overtime, they learned to add femininity to it, adding some colors and complex patterns.
What mistakes do women make when it comes to clothing styles?
There is a difference between Czech and French women. I think Czech women sometimes want a little too much, while for a French woman, it is easier to find her own style. It is in them. They have a boutique on every corner, thousands of fashion designers, space and time. There are less opportunities here. I have a feeling that the ladies pay too much of an attention to the trends presented in magazines or what they hear from their female friends or husbands. And when they do not know what to get, they decide based on the brand because they think they cannot go wrong if they buy a good brand, which is not true. If it does not correspond to your character, you are making a mistake.
What message would you like to send to women?
Fashion is not about self-confidence. Fashion is about finding your own style, a style that corresponds to your character. Do not be afraid of that!