Ilana Kohn is a New York-based designer creating easy to wear, clean and classic clothing in bold, playful motifs, based around the idea of easy everyday dressing. We fell in love with her prints and the easy cuts of her designs, and even more so with the luxurious silks she uses, adding a bit of grown-up sophistication. We were lucky enough to chat with Ilana about her design process and all the other things she loves.
What is your background, and how did that lead to fashion design?
IK: My background is in commercial illustration/painting. That’s what I did for close to a decade until the recession hit and I really had to stand back and rethink everything. At that point, pretty fed up with the ups & downs of working for myself among other things, I decided to go back to school for Historic Preservation. While I was in school I began sewing as a creative outlet and one thing led to another. When I finally graduated and had more time on my hands, I decided to go full steam ahead with the fashion and began designing my own textiles as well. It certainly made sense considering my background!
Why did you choose to work in silk? What is it that you love about the fabric above others?
IK: My main reason for designing the first two collections entirely in silk was mainly born of the fact that I had not yet found a good source to print anything but! Granted I do indeed love silk, I love more low maintenance fabrics like linen & cotton as well though, which you’ll be seeing more of in future collections now that I’ve got a few more sources under my belt.
You design all of your own prints as well. Can you tell us about that process?
IK: It’s pretty simple in that I just scour the world over for inspiration and when it comes time to begin the process anew each season, I take some time to simply absorb it all. I then begin sketching and fiddling in illustrator/photoshop and the rest springs from there.
What are your biggest inspirations as a designer?
IK: The fact that I went for a master’s in Historic Preservation should tell you that I LOVE history & old sh*t. I take a whole heck of a lot of inspiration from vintage textiles and silhouettes. Pretty much anything from any period of time, be it medieval or the swinging 60′s, it’s fair game. The fellow designers I’ve encountered since I begun have been an unbelievable source of support & inspiration as well. Although of course they are aesthetic inspirations, those folk are really inspirations on every level.
If you weren’t making beautiful clothing, what else would you be doing?
IK: Fixing old houses? :) Really though, I need to be doing something creative. Maybe graphic design or more commercial illustration? If I didn’t have to be practical, I might enjoy just holing myself up in a studio and painting all day..
Thanks Ilana! Shop Ilana Kohn here.