Interview with Designer Turet Knuefermann

As part our Grazie series we’re taking a closer look at the most exciting artists, designers, chefs and creatives inspired by Italian style. Raised by German parents, based in New Zealand and inspired by the style and design of Italy and the wider world, it’s no surprise that fashion designer Turet Knuefermann’s work has global appeal. Under her Kneufermann brand (formerly known as TK), she creates sleek, stylish and effortlessly glamorous garments, all with the intention of empowering the women who wear them. We spoke to Turet about the importance of simplicity, her love for architecture and a youth spent exploring the cities of Italy.

Hi Turet. Can you tell us about the clothes you design?

The clothes I design are feminine, effortlessly sexy. There is an empowerment that women have, that men have through other things. I want to give women that confidence to be who they really are. With our garments, you can forget about what you’re wearing and just be yourself.

When did you get introduced to style and fashion and what do you find so fascinating about it?

My parents embodied the daring, cool and adventurous and at the same time upheld those German traditions of quality and refinement. At home, everything was carefully chosen and very simple. From how we dressed, right through to the way we lived, to the design pieces they chose for our home.

I often curled up with a glossy magazine filled with fashion and style and became fascinated with the way it can make you feel about yourself. I have always made clothing, especially as a student at University where my social life demanded an extensive wardrobe! I vividly remember growing up with my mother giving me an education on the importance of textiles and cut by taking me around exclusive European fashion houses. It’s something I never expected to have become a career, and it’s an absolutely fascinating industry to be part of.

Tell us about your approach to creating your collections.

It starts with the textiles and the female form. I like to choose fabrics that speak for themselves and then not overwork them. Clean lines, draping and simple shapes in high quality fabrics have a more powerful effect, and I think they allow the woman to shine.

Your designs seem to follow the classic Italian style principles of simple elegance. How does Italian design and fashion inspire your work?

Having grown up on both sides of the world, Italian style made a big impression on me growing up. My parents carefully mapped out fantastic trips around Rome, Milan, and also smaller townships and had us study the guide books before we left the hotels, making us recite the era of different buildings and fountains. We were also encouraged to take heed of the details that surrounded these fantastic backdrops to the people milling on the streets. It was then that I noticed very definite patterns in the way people dressed and lived: an ability to refine, so much so that everything was effortless. No more and no less than necessary. It is difficult to do, but when it’s right it looks so simple. This is the thing I admire so much about the Italians.

You’re based in New Zealand. Is there a big Italian community there?

Absolutely we have many Italian friends in this country, and we enjoy so many fantastic Italian restaurants, designers and flamboyant personalities. It’s wonderful to have a culture so full of people from all over the world.

Apart from fashion, what else inspires your work?

I’m inspired by everything around me. Books, architecture and film are key mediums for transporting the mind to be inspired and for reflecting on what it is that enriches our lives, inspires us to dream, and completes our lives. Fashion is all around us and it’s up to us what we choose to have in our lives, what we wear, what we look at. I was always a bookworm growing up, and architecture played a major role in my life – my parents encouraged us to learn about architecture in every form from its history through to the modern, and how, just like fashion, it’s a reflection of the time we live in.

Do you prefer classic or modern design?

I love modern design. It’s exciting. I think that the best modern designs have an element of the classic anyway or derive from a classic idea. I especially like when an old idea is made new and taken to a different level, for example when a usually conservative idea is reinvented in a completely new way to make it contemporary and fresh.

Who are your style icons and who are your favourite designers?

Sophia Loren and Bianca Jagger always were and I think always will be style icons for obvious reasons. My favourite designers are Mies Van der Rohe, Corbusier and most of all Marcio Kogan at MK27.