Anmari Honiball‘s designs transcend trend and convention to flit gorgeously on the line between where art meets fashion. She describes her garments as a combination of “awkward form” and “personal comfort”, and lets each collection develop and evolve organically from its original source, be that coloured play-dough, or the migratory patterns of butterflies.
Before enrolling in fashion school you completed a diploma in Fine Art. What made you decide to switch to fashion?
I’ve always wanted to do fashion design, but I also really wanted to study at a university before enrolling at a private collage or technicon, which were the only options for fashion design at that point. It was important for me to get a proper academic foundation and be surrounded by students of all professions, the 8 level library, exam halls etc. Fashion school always felt a bit silly to me after that. I should confess that I am a bit of a nerd at heart.
How does your fine arts background influence your fashion design?
I was fortunate to study under extremely talented art lecturers and professors. They taught me how to produce and conceptualize honest work. A good teacher can influence you for the rest of your life.
Please tell us about the inspiration and thinking behind you recent AW ‘15 collection, Leela…
The Leela collection developed from me just actually playing with play dough and creating an abstract landscape that formed the departure point for the collection. I can’t sketch or plan out a series of garments or looks. When I made the play clay landscape I just picked a colour that I liked, formed it into a random shape and started placing other colours next to it so as to activate each other. I suppose this collection grew somewhat organically. It is frustrating to not have a direct or specific plan, but this is just the way I work.
Your design transcends trends in favour of originality. How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I don’t know how to describe my design aesthetic yet, I think that is something I can only do later in my career, but it would probably include concepts such as “awkward form” and “personal comfort”. I haven’t even yet made the things that I really want to. I’m very patient and taking slow solid steps, so ask me again in 10 years.
This range has inspired a series of limited edition photographs by Brett Rubin. What appeals to you about this kind of creative cross-over and collaboration?
I love how Brett used elements from my garments in a non-fashion context. I also feel it’s important to not get too attached to your work and leave space for others to interpret it. I struggle with the notion of “owning” an idea. I think we rather stir each other towards developing and adapting ideas and collaborations are necessary because it makes room for more points of view, consequently adding more substance to the subject and allowing the work to grow in meaning.
What are some of the things you learnt during your time as design assistant to Marianne Fassler, and how do you apply them to your own label today?
Marianne has a unique understanding of how clothing should feel when you touch it and wear it. There is a “lightness” about her product that appealed to me. In college they teach you to line and fuse and hem and double everything and everything becomes very heavy. Marianne knows how to keep clothes alive and I strive to also achieve this.
Please take us through your creative process for a new collection…
Everything depends on the fabric and the money that is available. So the process for me begins by seeing what I can do inside the boundaries of my limitations. It is all really simple actually. I just take what I have available and the story takes its form from there.
What are some of the ideas and concepts that you’re currently exploring in your work?
Communication. I’m trying to really understand fabric and what shape it wants to take on, if you interact with fabric for a long enough time it tells you what it wants to become.
What are your thoughts on the local fashion industry?
It is a really small hands-on industry filled with lots of talent and diversity and its faced with great challenges. In my opinion it’s about how well the fashion industry can communicate with the people not involved in this specific industry, the customer. The local industry can only grow when people buy local so that there is more demand and more money to employ and train people, perhaps more local boutiques can then open and create more jobs. It’s a slow process, but I like to believe that I am part of it everyday.
If your label was personified by a woman, what would she be like?
I would want her to have a good sense of humor, unexplainably intricate but comfortable at the same time, never too self-involved.
What daily inspirations and influences feed your creativity and design?
My routine, being in the studio working together with my seamstress and being active leads to new projects and keeps the ball rolling.
What are you absolutely obsessed with right now and what’s next?
The smell of Shweshwe and a holiday!