I recently had the opportunity to visit young Polish designer Karolina Zmarlak at her Flatiron District studio. Though the two-room space might be tiny, the racks of carefully color-coordinated samples, stacks of art books and bulletin boards packed with fabric swatches and images of dapper matadors were an immediate indication of Zmarlak’s devotion to her craft.
An F.I.T. graduate and Gen Art Styles winner, Zmarlak began her fashion career as an intern for the likes of Carolina Herrera and Theory, which taught her the importance of precise tailoring and immaculate fit. She eventually struck out on her own, creating custom and made-to-measure eveningwear out of her apartment before launching her eponymous ready-to-wear collection in 2009.
Today, Zmarlak challenges our ideas about versatile dressing, creating unconventional garments that can be worn in myriad ways. Horsehair-trimmed dresses unsnap into separate tops and maxiskirts, multi-darted tulip skirts are fully reversible and seamless knit dresses can be flipped inside out for a quick change of color. Read on to hear Zmarlak’s own thoughts about wardrobe changeability and adaptability—and get an insider’s glimpse at her intimate work space.
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