Firmly introducing the Paolina Russo woman as a "soft warrior", Zalando's Visionary Award winner triumphs with a debut runway collection of spirit and innovation
“The Paolina Russo woman is definitely a warrior woman, but she’s a soft warrior,” says Paolina Russo. She’s standing beside her co-creative director Lucile Guildmard on the rune-carved, rainbow-hued runway setting that, just moments ago, was brimming with show-goers keen to see the brand – which Zalando bestowed its first Visionary Award – deliver its debut runway show.
Proving its place on the Copenhagen Fashion Week schedule, Paolina Russo’s 23-look collection, named ‘Monolithics’, is, as Guildmard puts it, “a pilgrimage within a folkloric landscape." Weaving around standing stone structures, models wear swathes of technical, spliced knitwear, gradient-hued, laser-etched denim, second-skin jersey pieces printed with modern-day runic monikers, and rippling bias-cut chiffon.
Awarded by Zalando for their technical aptitude and forward-thinking design language, the London-based pair say that being visionary isn’t necessarily about being futuristic. “It isn’t just about doing something that has never been done before,” Russo says. “For us, it’s about understanding craft and how to bring craft into future contexts.” “It’s also about longevity over novelty,” Guildmard adds. “We want to develop techniques that can be automated and understand how they can exist in the long term.”
Furthering its sustainability credentials, Paolina Russo’s SS24 pieces intentionally lack hardware, instead being fashioned from unembellished, lightweight cotton mono-fibre yarns, which are biodegradable at the end of their lifespan. Large, swirling earrings are fashioned from wood, while ‘nutshell’ beads are nestled within some belts. “They’re like relic objects that the Paolina Russo girl would take on her journey,” Guildmard muses.
The whole Paolina Russo team step out to take their bow at the end, family members standing and cheering in the audience. They’re soon mobbed backstage, champagne is poured: this is their moment. “It feels very euphoric right now,” says Russo, face flushed. “I feel like we’ve done something really big for ourselves and the brand.”
Discover the full Paolina Russo SS24 collection below: