Vanessa Hofmann ventured out of Glasgow to catch up with Vienna-based budding fashion designers Federico Protto Scutti and Attila Lajos on the creation of their label MER. They talk mermaids, mythology and give us their take on breaking into the design world.
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself: who you are and where do you come from?
Our label is called MER, it consists of me, Federico Protto Scutti, born in Uruguay, raised in Munich and my friend Attila Lajos from Hungary. Last year we both started studying fashion design at University of Applied Arts in Vienna under the professor Bernhard Willhelm.
2) How did you get started in fashion design?
After finishing high school last year I did an internship at Michael Sontag’s atelier in Berlin during Berlin Fashion Week. After that I applied in Vienna and everything went like clockwork. Attila had already started to study fashion design before in Hungary before he came to Vienna.
3) Who inspired you to become a designer, and how?
Attila’s mom made him clothing, he was the best dressed kid in the kindergarten, he had no other option than to become a fashion designer. He got also called Gucci as a kid. I got inspired by Gwen Stefanis’ ‘What You Waiting For?’ Music video, she was wearing fantastic Vivienne Westwood Plateau High Heels. That was somehow an inspiration and motivation! But even before that I’ve always been interested in these kinds of aesthetics.
4) You are based in Vienna, what is the fashion scene like there and what is it about the city that inspires you? How does it differ from other cities in terms of fashion?
Viennese people are posh and theatrical and they love to exhibit themselves! The fashion scene consists of a bunch of self-displaying hipsters, it is quiet conventional and conservative. At the same time there is still a big potential to surprise, to shock, to differ and to create unseen things in comparison to bigger metropolises! You see it’s a double-edged sword. Vienna inspires with its theatrical architecture, the pathos and the sentiment.
5) When you create something, what goes through your mind?
In the artistic process it’s all about abstraction. We hate obviousness and transparency. We also imagine a special character with a special kind of beauty within. In the technical process it’s about perfection. Sometimes it’s hard to combine these two processes; you have to restrain your fantasy to create the possibility in the physical world.
6) The name ‘Mer’ and the brand’s symbol, what do they mean to you?
We love mermaids and there is a great Madonna song called ‘Mer Girl’. The logo is a combination of various astrological signs. We used the sign of Neptune, because in the ancient mythology he was the god of the Ocean and we mixed it up with the Sign of Mercury. We simply love this ancient god with his winged sandals, he’s so fashionable! We love mythology.
7) Could you describe the typical ‘Mer’ women in three words?
8) What do you want to emerge from your collection?
We want to create a sacral atmosphere combined with a human viscosity. We like concepts and we want to create a collection which is courageous but without being vulgar in any way. We used to love lunatic and bizarre things, but all this is super spoiled nowadays. We try to avoid the boredom and forget about norms.
9) How do you put your chosen colours together?
We use contrasts. But also no contrasts at all; the next collection is simply planned in bright colours, maybe even just white in different shades. Colours could appear just in very light, very creamy and very pastel tones. The hues could be dolce and dreamy.
10) Where do you see yourself in the future?
We would love to show in some fashion weeks, Paris or London would be our dream, but also Berlin is ambitious enough. But that comes later, now we just work step by step and we’re always happy when people show interest, like this interview. It is a pleasure for us!
11) What advice can you give to people who want to enter the design world?
Believe in yourself, be self-determined, and get rid of every conservative thought. Define who and what should influence you, get rid of the rest – then you can create things with positive energy!
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