“Our collections are an intertwining of our teenage escapist fantasies and the spirit of nostalgic references from our upbringing,” Alex Russo – half of the team behind Paolina Russo – said in a pre-show press interview. of the brand during Copenhagen Fashion Week (CPHFW). The duo, completed by Lucile Guilmard, was selected as the winner of the first edition of Zalando’s Visionary Award in partnership with the event, recognizing them as “makers of the future”.
Founded in 2021, Paolina Russo has become known for its approach to knitwear combined with artisanal techniques, bridging the gap between heritage craftsmanship and technology. It was no different for the London-based brand’s Spring/Summer 2024 collection, which Russo says blended “sporty codes with folkloric fantasies of stone circles”, resulting in a subversive exploration of knitting, woven prints, jersey and denim.
An important element of the line, according to the designer, was the use of recycled fibers and unique cotton which reiterated the brand’s commitment to responsible practices – a quality made possible through a collaboration with textile solutions developers Pizarro. . Such practices can be seen in denim and laser-cut t-shirts, which Russo says eliminates processes that are harmful to workers and reduce the environmental impact of production.
Silhouettes featured throughout the collection ranged from low waisted, flowing asymmetry to layered basics and figure-hugging shapes, made possible by a prominent use of ruching. Other techniques were also extensive, such as crochet and intricately knit corset-like tops could be seen combined with printed sportswear.
“Our goal is to create a modern context for craftsmanship…”
These prints reflected the folkloric theme mentioned above, a common staple of Paolina Russo’s collections brought from the designers past – bringing together Russo’s suburban upbringing in Canada with Guilmard’s French heritage. Commenting on this contrast, Russo said: “We both found community and belonging through making, and that’s how we realized that craftsmanship is something that exists through communities and is passed down. from generation to generation.”
Ultimately, the brand’s goal is to “create a modern context for craftsmanship” through the development of technology, evident, as Russo noted, in the signature illusion knits, which were also present in the SS24 collection. Further evidence of their efforts can also be found in the designers’ so-called “collaborative manufacturing network”, through which they intend to treat their supply chain as creative partners. Russo added, “We are working face-to-face and as locally as possible with our supply chain to address field development and experimentation within our manufacturers’ facilities.”
It was this mindset that led Russo and Guilmard to apply for and ultimately win Zalando’s Visionary Award, furthering the duo’s mission to continue to empower others to consider their practices as well as their personal expression. Commenting on the win, Russo said, “Meeting the high standards of an award like this brings us closer to our goal: modernizing craftsmanship and rethinking traditional techniques through innovation and responsible fashion products. . Winning encourages us to continue building an enduring brand and celebrates a different way of working. »