This interview was originally published at Haute Macabre on February 19, 2018
Maude Nibelungen is a textile artist with a passion for knitting unique, wearable objects of desire–evocative, avant garde knits full of elegant contradictions, which are equally lovely as sultry loungewear in the boudoir or as unexpected, expressive streetwear–and which are also equally encouraged for all types of people and all of their wonderful bodies.
In our interview, below, Maude stressed to me that her knitting designs are for absolutely everyone. Everyone! Including you! With your unruly human curves and planes, gorgeous angles and hollows, beautiful bumps and lumps and bits. If the sizes listed on her site don’t match up to what you may need, she will work with your individual measurements to create a customized treasure that fits like a glove. She wants everyone to feel special in her designs, to feel like a precious piece of art, to evolve into their fabulous selves alongside and inside her pieces.
Read further for more insights on Maude’s inclusive vision, her desire to express her feelings and exorcise her demons through her craft, and the special bond she creates between her knitted intimacies and those who would wear them.
Maude! There are so many things that I want to talk with you about. But first, one thing that I want to comment on right away, is how often I see you modeling your own pieces–and I love that. One, because I always want to see the creator of the things I love adorning themselves with the things they have created– instead of modeling them on impossible fantasy humans. And two, because it’s always refreshing and exciting to see someone comfortable in their own skin, showing a little skin. Can you speak to these observations?
I’m glad to hear because honestly, I’m always afraid that people will be annoyed with seeing me! I was modeling my pieces before I really started my brand. When I launched my first collection, I worked with “real” models because I wanted everything to look as professional as possible, and I still do! I didn’t really model my pieces for a few years after that. But I started again in 2014. It was a big year for me. I had an on-and-off phase as I was pregnant and then had some issues accepting my postpartum body. But I’m trying to see/ do things differently these days! I think everybody is beautiful and I am trying to show that to whoever wants to read/ see.
In that vein, you recently wrote a fantastic piece for Lingerie Addict on how to wear underwear as outerwear – how empowering it is to take your “unmentionables” out and let them see the light of day! It was a fairly comprehensive guide, but I’d love to know the impetus for this article, which pieces of yours you might choose for this purpose, and do you have any tips for the timid, in getting started with this trend?
Thank you! It was exciting putting this piece together for them. Well, first I think it’s important to say that lingerie as outerwear isn’t necessarily something that others will notice; one can easily create a simple/ casual look. For the more timid, the Alice crop top can be a very nice way to ornament the skin under a v-neck or any other open neckline. The Audrey socks are perfect to add some texture to a skirt/dress ensemble or also under shorter pants/ shorts. I would also suggest layering the Marlene dress over any plain black dress for instant glamour. For anyone more daring, well I’d say any piece could be worked into an outfit, haha; but my favorites would be the Anais Bodysuit, Denise Dress, Lola Chemise, Jean Step-Ins, and Georgia Capelet.
I read somewhere that you “turn your demons into knitwear” and I am curious about this concept, though, as a knitter myself, I think I know, after a fashion, how you mean that in a general sense. Tell me how you came to knit, how your demons became entangled into your stitches…and how row by row, piece by piece, these exorcised demons transformed knitted lingerie?
That’s… the story of my whole life haha! But basically, I always dabbled in some type of art form, migrating from one to another as I nothing felt quite right; I had to find an artistic medium in which I could create something unique. I just felt like I could play piano, make jewelry, but nothing… different enough. Eventually, I started knitting more (I started when I was 5 but wasn’t doing it every day). In a particularly rough time in my life, I had a flash where it became clear that knitting was what I had to do. It just felt right. I finally was able to process and express all the feelings and thoughts that were locked up inside of me, in an artistic/ unique manner. I had found my voice… As for the lingerie, it was at first kind of a joke (an inside joke, that’s what happens when you spend hours and days and weeks knitting alone). When I started modeling my pieces again, in 2014, I was feeling the need to express myself differently. That, combined with the fact that for a while, I felt like I had to prove to people that knitting wasn’t a thing that only grandmothers did . It seems silly now, but not that long ago, and you must remember this, knitting wasn’t trendy. SO, I started modeling my sweaters but with only knickers on, or in more provocative angles. Knits make me feel good and that’s something I wanted to show and share. I started using the hashtag “knits are sexy”. One night, I was joking with some friends and said: I should just go all in and make a lingerie collection… that was in 2015, I have since put out 3 (and a half) lingerie/ loungewear collections. That’s also what I sell the most of these days. too!
You’ve described your designs as “Matter and anti-matter dancing on the skin”-that’s a beautiful sentiment, can you elaborate on that?
Yes! It’s somewhat like the demons we were just talking about. I play a lot with the gauge (the tightness) of the knits I create. I design for people, with them in mind. I like to play with their skin too, create pretty patterns, make them feel like they are part of a piece of art.
And until I see my designs on someone else, I feel like that they are fully complete/ alive.
Texture is everything to me. That’s actually the sentiment behind my permanent collection, “Peau de Chagrin“; the pieces are all black, but I tried to recreate prints (floral, plaid, polka dots, stripes etc).
How would you describe your personal style? How does that inspire and influence the designs you create? And where else do you find your inspiration for your collections/individual pieces? I saw mention in a previous interview that patterns in music inspire you, which I find very intriguing, and I would really love to hear more about that, as well.
It’s a bit of everything; I wear a lot of black but also love certain florals, reds and pinks. I’m actually finding more ways to wear colors lately without “betraying” my style. I often go for very structured/form fitting, femme fatale-type outfits, but I also love wearing power suits, and going for a more androgynous look with leggings and oversized tops and big sneakers. I love Japanese fashion and I think it does inspire my style to an extent. What I wear influences my work, as I am always trying to make thing I want to wear everyday. I love staying home and being cozy, but I care about how I look, so I’m perpetually trying to mix those two things together. Otherwise, my inspiration mostly come from feelings, seasons, things around me. I think of the way certain things smell, and I long for them. I remember how the sun feels in a certain season, how it affects the colors of the trees and the sky. I feel the vibe of things around me; sometimes it’s the city, sometimes it’s the country, very often it’s a place that only exists in my head. As for the music (patterns), I think it can create a lot of these feelings/ vibes I just mentioned. You can just close your eyes, listen to music and travel to somewhere unique. That’s what inspires me.
As a further to that, tell me about the type of people that you envision wearing your pieces.
Everyone! I think that a lot of my pieces can be incorporated to a lot of different styles/ looks. If a person can appreciate the organic process behind my knits, I think they will find a way to wear them. I am talking about organic, because all my pieces are handmade and I like creating little irregularities. No one will ever own the same piece from me. It’s a special bond between me and my customers.
Can you share any thoughts or give us any peeks as to what we might expect from your forthcoming collections?
I am in the process of moving to the USA for March! So I am expecting to work with a lot of new people (email me if you want to work with me! NYC/ NJ/ Philly!) I am currently working on a ready-to-wear a lingerie line for a collaboration with another company (but that’s all I can say for now). I’m also torturing myself with the thoughts of a whole new unisex collection I would like to launch this summer. I say torturing myself, because between the orders, the move and the family, I have to wait a few weeks before I can actually start designing and sampling. Right now it’s all marinating in my head. Oh, and I also just started a Patreon to support and share my endeavors!
Find Maude Nibelungen: website // instagram // facebook
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