Interview with Bergfabel Designer Klaus Plank
Bergfabel embodies timeless silhouettes, impeccable tailoring and meticulous attention to detail. Inspired by the designer, Klaus Plank’s, childhood home in the mountains of South Tyrol, he uses traditional fabrics and silhouettes. The shapes, while classic in inspiration, are very modern. He is focused on artisanal production and hand finished details; you can feel the designers touch in each piece.
His spring 2016 collection features a beautiful combination of soft linen and crisp cotton. When layered, his pieces immediately take on a modern point of view, while remaining timeless. Here, we learn more about 'the man from the mountains', Klaus Plank, and discover what inspires him, where he unwinds, and the story behind is lovely lavender satchels.
What is the inspiration behind your spring SS16 collection?
There is not a special inspiration or a special style in a season, it is much more the mood or the feeling that starts when I choose my fabrics and do my own fabric design. It starts with colors for the different fabrics, the weight and then the different kind of fabrics, simple pattern, stripes, checks. After choosing and ordering the sample fabrics I must wait till they are produced and I am getting more and more happy and nervous if all will be alright and if it will look nice.
During all this time I am listening to special music that will follow me during all the process: Johann Sebastian Bach, secular cantatas, piano music, Mozart. I love old music and while listening I always feel parallels, wondering how can some music, written 250 years ago be so contemporary, so modern. This is my connection with my clothing, something old that looks at the same time, at least for me, very modern.
What influences the shapes and silhouettes you design?
I am not doing research in shops or flea markets or fashion magazines or on the internet. I have a lot of books that describe the life in the mountains, mostly about farmer people in my country, South Tyrol. Some things come out in a simple way, like my apron dress. My mother is always wearing an apron, she is not stylish and has quite a unique taste, but she is more interested in internal values than outside appearances. She gave me the wonderful idea for the apron dress and I remember that I asked her for the oldest and dirtiest apron for getting an idea of how to make a nice dress from it. I also like children’s clothing, especially traditional ones (from South Tyrol). I have two pieces of luggage full of it. It has a lot of handmade things made by my mother, very simple, many reparations, but so nice and beautiful. My collection is always a work in progress. I try to make the collection better every season because it is a living thing.
Is there a certain time period or part of the world that you often draw inspiration from?
Since I can remember caring about clothing (and I think I started very early) I loved good things with stable quality. When I was a child I had to wear all the old and used clothes of my brothers and I hated it! I have one picture where I am on a small stage playing with a traditional instrument, all was quite nice, but the worst thing, my socks had a hole! Since then, I always wanted to have good fabric clothes. I did not like light clothes because they broke too fast. As a logical fellow I am much more interested and inspired by old fabrics that I remember from when I was child. When I think about my father's wedding suit and my uncle's old farmer clothes, they wore the same pieces for a long time and they always looked nice. If I think about some new and modern clothes that have of course nice and modern shapes, I think it misses completely the soul or the base they need to have. Taking my inspiration from traditional clothes is the reason I feel able to make clothes. We have a special history and harmonic colors that I wanted to bring out to the world. If I must do just a contemporary collection, I would not feel able to do it, but with the connection to my country, to my background and to my family, I can express something that is special for some people!
Do you approach spring collections differently from fall? How do the different fabrications for seasons affect your design process?
In the winter it is important to cover up, to envelope somebody. In the summer I must find the right way to make somebody feel light. This starts with colors and the right weight of the fabrics. I personally don’t like clothes that are so light that the wind seems to blow it away. In general I like always heavy, medium and lightweight fabrics so you can put together the heavy with the light etc.
I like clothes that make sense and are not just beautiful to look at or touch, but also have a good function.
We love the lavender satchels that you include with each piece, what is the story behind them?
I love my lavender satchels too and they have a lot of stories…
My mother always used to make lavender bags for the wardrobe to protect the clothes from moths! It was always with beautiful old fabrics that she had for doing housework. I wanted to go on with this tradition and at the same time I like the idea of something a little cute on the clothes. When you see it, then I can get a smile from a person, just a nice smile. This is a big gift, to make somebody smile.
And after all, it is useful! When you put it in your wardrobe it gives a good and natural smell! I still love these lavender bags. In the first two years, I made them all by my self, piece by piece, at night, because during the day I had some more serious work. But I was always happy when I did it!
The lavender satchels are an absolute must on every piece of Bergfabel!
Creating a collection with the craft, skill and attention to detail that you do can be exhausting, is there a place you go or something you do to remain calm and maintain the energy to create?
I think I am a really lucky and happy mountain boy!
First, the family: I found a nice girl, she supported me since the beginning to do my mountain story. We got married and have a 10 month old girl and a 3 year old daughter. I try to spend enough time with them and I wish to give to my girls enough love and attention. Then the second thing I love to do is go to nature. I love the silence and the sound of the nature and looking at the sky, the waves, the mountains or the different colors of the woods. Every season is so rich and beautiful. Even the darkest rainy November day has something strong and beautiful. And finally, there is my original family. My old mother that lives in her own world and has her own ideas. She told me: “Klaus .. do never forget .. we are just simple farmer people!” When I was young and wanted to capture the world and leave behind my origins, I hated it. Now, I feel very happy because I am doing nothing else than being myself.