Œ first stumbled upon the deft designs of Ania Marincek at the Mode Suisse Edition 16 Show back in 2019, where her graduate collection Tears of Lava was paraded down the runway. Born in Rome to a Slovenian father and Swiss mother, in her early years, Ania’s family relocated to Neuchâtel, Switzerland. At nineteen years old, she moved to Geneva to pursue a degree in Fashion Design at HEAD University. Since graduating, Ania and fellow designer Julia La Mendola have been busy building their shared brand LARMA Studio, which is set to release its first collection (GENESIS) at the end of May.
Œ will be covering the launch of GENESIS next month. In the meantime, we thought we’d check in with Ania to revisit her old but gold collection Tears of Lava, and find out how she’s been getting on with setting up LARMA Studio.
Œ: You have such a natural knack for design – from your artistic realisation to the presentation of the final product. Had you always pictured yourself working in fashion?
Ania: To be honest, for as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to pursue a career in fashion design. During my teenage years, I kind of put this idea aside, perceiving fashion as too “superficial” or “girly”. I still knew I wanted to go to an art school but was considering Product or Interior Design.
During the open days at HEAD, I decided to visit the Fashion Design section and I was just blown away by the quality of the student’s projects and the textile experiments. I applied to its program and got in. During my studies there, I did a semester abroad in Montreal and went to both London and New York for internships. Those studies were very intense and tough, I couldn’t say I liked them even though I am kind of nostalgic when I think about them now. I am currently based in Lausanne and work on our brand between Lausanne and Geneva.
Œ: We first featured an outfit from this exuberant collection whilst reporting on Mode Suisse’s 16th show – the cow print outfit was one of our favourite looks. So iconic! What’s the story behind Tears of Lava?
Ania: Thank you! It is my favourite look from the collection too! My best friend, the designer Bryan Colo, helped me with the patternmaking and realisation of this coat so it also has a special personal meaning. The funny thing is that this outfit wasn’t understood by my final jury and my teachers wanted me to take it out of the collection, they considered it “out of theme”, but for me, the whole collection was constructed around it and it was the “statement” piece. I always trusted my gut and didn’t listen to teachers anyway so I decided to keep it.
As for inspiration, I imagined each look of the collection Tears of Lava as a unique character. The idea of the collection was a surrealistic and psychedelic atmosphere in which incandescent and liquid parasites infiltrate under the skin. The garment reacts physically to the heat and burns by bruising, swelling and blistering. It’s so relentless and uncontrollable, that it deforms and reshapes the garment to reveal dramatic shapes and proportions.
The cowhide look and the hat was a homage to one of the scenes of The Holy Mountain (1973), a legendary psychedelic movie by Alejandro Jodorowsky that has inspired my work greatly. In this scene, Jodorowsky himself plays a guru/alchemist and is surrounded by two goats. I used cowhide skins and leather for the coat and the trousers. The leather was from a supplier in Paris that buys deadstock from the high-end fashion industry. The cowhides were from a rug store in Germany. However, looking back on this look, I wish I would have found more sustainable alternatives or found ways to construct the whole look out of scraps of leather.
Œ: What have you been up to since graduating?
Ania: I would say the most complicated thing was the months following my graduation. Covid kind of screwed up the plans I made to move abroad and to intern in a fashion company. In the end, I decided to take a one year break. In December 2020, the designer Julia La Mendola; a jewellery and accessories designer, and I won a grant and mentoring program from The Swiss Art and Design Council to develop our brand project LARMA. The following year we were awarded another grant to support us with production. We will be launching our products on the market at the end of May. I’m currently based in Lausanne and we work on our brand LARMA between Lausanne and Geneva.
Œ: That’s right, you’ve recently co-founded LARMA Studio with Julia La Mendola – We will be featuring your work together next month! Can you tell us a bit more about this exciting new venture?
Yes! So Julia La Mendola is the jewellery and accessories designer, and friend with whom I collaborated for the accessories (eyewear, earrings and hair accessories) of my BA collection. We started to work on this project at the end of 2020 and founded our company LARMA last year. LARMA is a fashion accessories brand, whose objective is to turn recycled and deadstock acetate into high-end fashion accessories.
Our first collection Genesis is composed of 5 models of eyewear, available in 3 colours each. It was very important for us to have products entirely made in Europe and within a short production cycle. Our acetate supplier is in French Jura, 100km from Geneva while our eyewear manufacturer, lenses, our packaging (and paper), cleaning cloth, and eyewear cases (and its corn-based material) are all produced in the north of Italy.
We will be launching crowdfunding this month to help us fund the final steps of the production. It’s the occasion to buy our sunglasses at an exclusive discount! We will have the official launch of our products on our e-shop and in selected stores at the end of May!
Œ: What do you think of the Swiss fashion scene – what are the positives and negatives?
Ania: I think there are very talented Swiss designers and fashion brands and we have two excellent schools (Geneva and Basel), plenty of prizes and support. However, it seems you need to leave Switzerland to make it in fashion. People launching their brand here can hardly manage to live from it or only thanks to design funding. But here we are doing the same thing so we will see how it goes! I don’t know what makes it so complicated for Swiss fashion to develop internationally. But, feel like it’s a problem that is starting to be addressed and I am quite optimistic that a new fashion generation is going to emerge and change the Swiss scene in the next few years.
Œ: What are your next plans? Can we expect individual designs from you or only from LARMA Studio?
Ania: At the moment I will be focusing on LARMA, but I still would like to work on a new individual collection in the upcoming years! As for the future of our brand, once we are more established, we would like to diversify our range to jewellery, bags and shoes.