This week’s interview is with the ultra cool Dorota Swies – designer, filmmaker, and the mind behind THE DIVINITUS blog. I always enjoy reading Dorota’s site because her style is so consistent, clean, and modern. It takes a very defined aesthetic to have a minimalist, avant garde style that is as consistently striking as Dorota’s, and I love how she is able to create so many different and detailed looks and textures through a very simple color palette (I’ve included some of my favorite looks throughout). Enjoy meeting the fantastic Dorota!
Who are you? What do you do, and where do you live?
I’m a new media designer and filmmaker in the United States. I also run a personal style fashion blog THE DIVINITUS.
You work in a highly creative field. What does a typical day for you look like?
That depends on the project I’m working on. Filming includes either production on location or post in a studio. When we film it means long hours, usually early morning to late evening. Locations can vary from set to scene. Post or design usually involves certain deadlines so we often work overnight. So pretty much a typical day means long hours powered by coffee. But all creative jobs require that kind of challenge. There is no 9 to 5.
You moved to the U.S. from Europe after receiving your MFA. What were some of the most interesting aspects of life that you had to adjust to when you moved?
There is not much difference in general culture (except for a couple of infamous “prides” of America) as this country is a great mix of immigrants from every side of the world. But the most interesting for me was the scale of this country with all that immensity of nature. Fascinating miles of unoccupied territory with everything oversized. It was especially striking in Nevada and Arizona.
Your style seems to focus on avant garde and niche designers. Who are some of your favorites designers – both well known and perhaps less well known? How has your style evolved over the years?
By natural choice I reject mainstream qualities in anything, and I focus on quality art or design which isn’t spoiled by short lived trends or dollar signs. In fashion, my favorite is Rick Owens, but I also wore a lot of less known Complexgeometries and more commercial Helmut Lang. I always did black. Before even more than now, but now it’s all about the casual elegance. Back then I was going to art school and then university of fine arts, so it was all about demonstrative manifest of one’s own creativity or existential pain. Outfits were either self-made or made by my colleagues from the weaving arts department.
Now I rely on a very limited number of actual fashion designers. I also reduced accessories and any unnecessary fuzz. I focus on shades of black, and its fabric composition.
What are some of your favorite items in your wardrobe – the most worn? Which would you recommend as versatile items for somebody trying out avant garde style?
Perhaps a good coat and a pair of flat combat boots, but quality outwear and shoes are a must, regardless of trend or style. Avant-grade is more of a life style than a much narrower trend to try out. It should come naturally and sans guidelines other than supporting original designs and understanding where they are coming from.
Luxury is an ever growing industry, and even avant garde brands are becoming more ubiquitous. There has been the observation that as the industry has grown, prices have risen while quality has stayed the same or decreased. What are your opinions on this topic?
There is a good read by Dana Thomas, Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster focusing on this. I think the whole confusion around luxury comes from lack of one general definition of it. We don’t really know what luxury is and mix it with similar status symbols or tricky Veblen goods. Which means, its quality may not necessarily decrease. Avant-garde on the other hand doesn’t need to be exclusive or in limited edition. As long as it’s innovative, it fulfills its purpose. From the brands I wear, I haven’t observed changes in quality yet, but in one – I have noticed some loss in design. I don’t mind if designs are repetitive each season – consistency is a part of good style – but this particular brand went cliché so it lost my interest.
Who are some of your style inspirations – anyone that might be surprising in there?
Michele Lamy as an experimental mind and creative entrepreneur with a unique approach to aesthetics. And of course the fact she is not afraid to wear the same designer from head to toe, which makes her a total rebel of common fashion rules. Le Corbusier in anything else outside of fashion. As a matter of fact I’m typing these words while sitting on his LC3 sofa.
In contrast to your clothing wardrobe, which is mostly neutrals, you have a colorful lipstick collection. What are some of your favorite colors to wear, and specific lipsticks? Why do you think you are drawn to color on your lips?
Lipstick is an easy path to elegance. Other than that, it makes all black ensembles less ostentatious. My favorites are matte finishes in intense hues of red, fuchsia or orange. My latest acquisitions were bright plum in Flat Out Fabulous and pinkish coral in Relentlessly Red by MAC. This year I wore coral red in Lady Danger the most.
I know that you have a very pared down accessories collection. Can you describe why you love your Margiela set and why that is the only jewelry you wear? Can you see yourself adding any pieces in the future?
The Margiela set looks a lot like my wedding band I designed eleven years ago. I came up with this look as a response to ultimate simplicity. A couple of years later I was introduced to Margiela jewelry and it felt natural to multiple it by four. If I had to add more pieces, I would just add more of the same because the subtlety here is not my concern.
What are some of your other passions and hobbies?
Well I have so many, but they are always connected to art. I wanted to be a piano virtuoso so I obtained a classical music diploma. I loved photography and set my own darkroom, so I obtained diploma in it as well. Basically studying various fields of visual or applied arts took me a decade. My latest passion is modern classics in furniture or utilities. It began few years ago and now I’m pretty confident in it.
And finally – please share something surprising about yourself!
Perhaps not really surprising but I do judge people by their shoes!