From childhood dreams to a flourishing fashion venture, Laura Tønder's passion for design has been a lifelong journey. "I have known I wanted to become a designer since I was a kid," she reminisces, reflecting on her early days spent sewing clothes for her dolls and sketching endless fashion ideas. "My mom taught me how to knit, sew, and crochet as a child, and I attended evening sewing classes when I was a young teen. Always motivated because I enjoyed working with my hands, it still to this day feels like meditation."

Tønder's journey from Copenhagen to Madrid marks a significant chapter in the evolution of Kettel Atelier. Graduating from design school in Copenhagen, she delved into the world of womenswear design, accumulating nearly a decade of experience in various roles. However, it was a job offer in Spain that prompted her to embark on a new adventure. 

Relocating in February 2020, Tønder immersed herself in her work for three and a half years before a persistent yearning for creative autonomy became undeniable. "The itch," as she fondly refers to it, propelled her to seek fulfilment beyond the confines of corporate design. Recognizing the need to pursue her own creative vision, Tønder took a leap of faith, resigning from her position to explore the boundless possibilities of self-expression. Thus, Kettel Atelier was conceived—a testament to her unwavering commitment to authenticity and creative freedom.

Tønder's decision to focus on upcycling vintage and deadstock fabrics for her collections was born out of serendipity and a deep-rooted passion for textile craftsmanship. Recounting her journey, Tønder recalls how it all started without a concrete plan, sparked by leisurely visits to flea markets in Copenhagen. "I stumbled upon these beautiful cotton textile pieces...and I bought them, thinking I could make a few pieces of clothing for myself," she shares.  

What began as a personal creative endeavour soon gained unexpected momentum when she shared her creations on social media. The overwhelming positive response served as a revelation, affirming the potential of her vision. "My love for textile, tactility, and hand craftsmanship, worked into new pieces of clothing, might just be that idea, the mantra, for the project I wanted to focus on," she reflects. Thus, Kettel Atelier was born, rooted in a commitment to repurpose existing materials into exquisite garments through techniques like "textile collage" and body-conscious patchwork.

Transparency and simplicity form the core of Kettel Atelier's philosophy. "Here are beautiful textiles, made into feminine pieces of clothing with the least possible negative impact," Tønder explains. By keeping production small-scale and maintaining direct contact with local tailoring studios, and sewing some items herself, she ensures ethical practices are upheld throughout the process.

Despite the challenges of sourcing materials, Tønder embraces the limitations, viewing them as opportunities for creativity. "Smaller quantities mean fewer problems," she notes. To overcome hurdles such as limited trimmings and closures, she adopts innovative solutions like adjustable tie strings, enhancing both functionality and aesthetics.

Balancing the integrity of vintage fabrics with modern design aesthetics is a delicate art for Tønder. "I honour the craftsmanship of making something beautiful from it," she says. Her designs, while simple in silhouette, showcase the complexity of repurposed fabrics, infusing each piece with a unique charm. 

The inspiration behind Kettel Atelier's latest collection stems from a dreamlike desire to resist adulthood's uniformity. "The urge of not wanting to grow up, wanting to stay adorable and sweet, while becoming a woman with sexuality," Tønder muses. Rejecting conventional attire, the collection embodies a whimsical spirit, celebrating individuality and self-expression.

Tønder offers insight into the creative process behind her latest collection, blending handkerchief designs, vintage lace pieces, and reinvented menswear shirts into unique creations. "I source the fabrics secondhand, from shops or online," she explains, emphasizing her commitment to sustainable practices. Once gathered, Tønder approaches her work with the mindset of a visual artist, likening the process to sculpting or painting.

"I work them like a collage directly on a mannequin, like a painter on a canvas, or a sculptor in clay," she elaborates. This hands-on approach allows her to experiment freely, manipulating the fabrics until they form a harmonious composition. Only when the piece reaches a point of visual satisfaction does Tønder meticulously sew it together, ensuring each garment is a testament to her artistic vision and dedication to craftsmanship.

Incorporating menswear shirts into her designs, Tønder subverts traditional norms, reimagining corporate attire through a feminine lens. "It is such a uniform piece for many corporate jobs," she observes. By repurposing these garments, she empowers women to reclaim their narratives and embrace individuality.

Curating limited edition collections involves a blend of intuition and inspiration for Tønder. "It all comes from the textiles I fall in love with," she shares. Drawing inspiration from various sources, including fellow artists and stylish friends, she weaves narratives that resonate with her audience. 

Storytelling plays a vital role in communicating the ethos of Kettel Atelier. "I try to keep it simple and transparent," she emphasizes. Her journey from childhood experiments with scraps to founding a sustainable fashion brand reflects a lifelong commitment to creativity and resourcefulness. 

Looking ahead, Tønder envisions Kettel Atelier as a beacon of beauty and craftsmanship. "I hope the project will grow to become acknowledged for doing something beautiful," she says. With each piece bearing the mark of her passion and dedication, the future looks bright for this emerging fashion atelier.

You can shop the new collection here from 8pm CET.

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