Adam Brody's interview with Orna Gattegno talking about his life as a plus size fashion designer from Zurich
What calms you down?
Drawing Patterns. Flowing with the lines. Disappearing between the logic of body movement and the technical shape of a garment. And otherwise, gardening, I love the contact with the soil, but most of all - Sunsets.
How did it all start?
I got to Shenkar (Isreal's top fashion design college) after my military service, a farm boy from Jerusalem in my only «nice» jeans and a «Shabbat» shirt. I was lost in the big Tel Aviv scene. I bought (in cash) the registration forms, filled them out and sent them, letting what ever happens to take its course. I was invited for an interview and adhering to the goal I prepared a portfolio and approached. To my surprise, I was accepted, and decided that this was my place.
How is a garment born?
By touching fabrics between the forefinger and the thumb. I see a garment as a very intimate experience. It is worn directly on the skin and stays close to us for hours. When I buy fabrics, I feel exposed, impulsive, emotional, and excited. Then, with a kind of a translation process, a practical combination of style and technique, aimed at creating a duet with the customer to convert the dream into practical reality.
Israeli or Swiss?
Israeli. One thinks you set your life, but in fact your life sets you. I was born in London, and I live and raise a collection and family in Switzerland, but I identify myself as an Israeli. It used to be nice to say, "man of the big world", there's something fancy, ostentatious about it, but especially now, we are a bit humbler. Today I am recognized as an Israeli because of my instinct and longing, in Switzerland I am always recognized for my foreignness and the "Mediterranean" temperament.
Why did you choose to focus on design for full-figured women?
My wife is full figured. Out of love and understanding for this kind of body. Out of infinite disappointments I learnt the lack of clothing to large sizes. "Plus" has always been there, but not the kind you really want, the kind that embraces and empowers. Somehow my way just led me to doing what needed to be done. It was not easy, but I never regretted it.
Do you have a role model?
No…I met a lot of people who influenced me during my process (and still do), the most wonderful of them is a Swiss designer I met when I was a student, she taught me that it doesn’t make sense to be a designer who want to be like someone else. That way you will never create anything new.
What do you like to wear the most?
Tailored pants and a very minimalist soft and fine t-shirt. I am planning to launch a shirt Line for men, soon.
Who do you dream of designing a wardrobe for? Meryl Streep. Strong and radiant and with both feet on the ground. An ageless woman of culture power and character. She always excites me, but equally - for everyone who enters my store. With endless joy and love. I love those women like to wear my clothes, that it ignites a spark in them, that it makes them happy. I generally love people, so my dream is very inclusive.
What is your viewpoint on the issue of "sustainability"?
There is a lot of talk today about "sustainability" and dictating codes of healthy materials and recycling, while basically if we buy what is exciting and pleasant, in the right quality, from people we love and respect, we will have clothes that instinctively stay with us for a long and delightful time.
If you were not a fashion designer - you would be...
I wouldn’t. I can't imagine myself not being a fashion designer. Fashion is the only field where design and creation take meaning only once they connect to someone else's body character and style. Fashion and clothing items can empower us, stay with us forever or accompany us for a moment. Fashion is a connection that can be banal or outstanding - it is magic.