I want to design clothes that empower

We speak to young and exciting London-based fashion designer Philipp Dorner about what fuels his innovative creations

Philipp Dorner is a London-based, German menswear designer who describes his style as ‘modern, quiet luxury’. Combining high-quality tailoring with an experimental approach to textiles, we spoke to Philipp about what inspired him to be a designer, what fuels his creativity and the diverse influences that shape his collections.

Firstly Philipp, tell us about your background. What inspired you to become a fashion designer?

Growing up near the Black Forest in Southern Germany, I was inspired as a child by a TV programme about sewing. I loved it so much, my mum enrolled me in a sewing class over the school summer holidays. And that was it! I knew this was what I wanted to do. I left school to join Hugo Boss as a tailoring apprentice, which provided great experience. Then I joined the luxury Italian menswear house Brioni, where I studied tailoring to a very high level and then enrolled to study menswear design at the University of Arts, London.  Throughout my studies I worked and gained valuable experience working for such brands as Louis Vuitton, Vetements and Thom Browne. The experience was amazing but I ultimately decided I would like to design for my own brand rather than work for someone else.

How would you define your brand’s identity?

This is hard to pinpoint exactly, but I would say ‘classic contemporary’ would be the closest description. It’s a blend of many things – a minimalist approach with a graphic and technical slant. My designs are refined, with either highly functional or very lavish detailing. They showcase the contrast between the necessary and superfluous. I like to think of my brand’s identity as ‘modern, quiet luxury.’ I also look to reflect cultural, historical, and architectural elements in my designs.

Philipp Dorner in his studio

Do you aim to convey a specific message or story through your designs? 

Absolutely! Quite simply, I like my designs to acknowledge the past because that’s what brought us to where we are now – but combine this with the new, as it’s important to keep exploring and evolving. I hope to convey this in my creations both through high-quality craftsmanship and design.

Who or what has fuelled your creativity over the years?

This is very much my clients’ desire to invest in my pieces or commission me to get something custom-made. The fact that someone is interested in your new design is incredible and is a huge driver for me. But I also have a constant appetite to make and create new designs. The second I start imagining an idea, it triggers another ten ideas that I have to develop further. It’s like a spiral!

Who has influenced your style and designs?

I find this really hard to narrow down to one person. I appreciate many styles and designs. For me, what’s important is when someone dresses in their own individual way and doesn’t conform to trends. I really support the idea of reflecting personality in your style.

But if I had to name one person, I would say Karl Lagerfeld. I admire the way he put different styles together in his unique way, without the help of a stylist so his personality and attitude were truly reflected through his designs. 

What materials and fabrics do you prefer to work with, and why?

I like classic fabrics like rich wool, as well as Latex. I love to experiment and combine different fabrics through methods such as bonding to create a unique fabric or material. I think the real art lies in what you do with fabrics and how you develop them for your designs, depending on how you want your design to look.

Can you tell me about any upcoming projects or collections you’re excited about? Are there any specific goals or projects you’re working towards?

Well, of course, we will be showing at the London Fashion Week in February. I can’t reveal the format or the theme at the moment. But my goal is always to step up my game. I would like to grow by continual reinvestment in the brand and develop creative freedom based on the value the brand has slowly and sustainably built up. I also want to have projects outside of Fashion Week that are not runway or showroom-based such as looking at new and innovative ways to showcase designs- possibly combining them with dance shows. Fashion relates to many different things than just being a product, and it’s great having the opportunity to show this. 

A design from SS23 Collection Look Book

How do you want people to feel when they wear your designs?

Confident. And empowered. When I was young, I wished I had had clothes that had made me feel confident, and that’s what I would like to do for others now. For me, how you dress and what pieces you wear send a very clear message to others about how much you care about yourself and what quality you like. When I was younger, I didn’t have the confidence to let people know who I really was. Now I do, and I hope the people who buy and wear my clothes feel the same. 

Can you describe your perfect luxury travel experience?

The perfect travel experience for me is travelling to a different time zone and a completely different lifestyle so I can be disconnected from day-to-day reality and not care about time. Ideally, this would be in a warm location with an endless minibar in my hotel room and a private pool, possibly in Hawaii or South Africa, my favourite destinations. I love the thought of having everything planned for me but still having the flexibility to do whatever I want to do. Having a private pool is probably the most luxurious thing I can imagine!

Find out more about Philipp, his inspiration, and his designs at www.philippdorner.com.