H&M’s Studio AW17 will hit selected stores across the Middle East on September 14. Here, Pernilla Wohlfahrt, H&M Creative Director and lead designer for H&M’s premium Studio collection, speaks to Rawan Qabazard.

Tell us a little about yourself and your career journey in the fashion industry.

I joined H&M as an assistant buyer nearly twenty five years ago after having finished my BA in Fashion Merchandising in London. I was then part of the team that started/founded COS before I moved back to Stockholm and the H&M Head Office. I have since then held various positions before I started as Design and Creative Director in 2015.

What sparked your interest in fashion?

I have always had an interest in fashion and design so it is hard for me to say. But I have been very fortunate to be able to work with my biggest interests.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I get inspired by many things; museums, arts, books, music or just walking down the street watching people. I personally thrive most in a creative environment that values curiosity and an open mind above all else. Fashion has this fascinating power to express personality or even the culture of the times so everyone really needs to be attune to that, especially to remain relevant. That means having a voracious appetite for art, architecture, music and history, and being aware of your surroundings whenever travelling – be it around the world or on your commute from home to work.

H&M Studio

H&M Studio – in selected stores mid-September

When it comes to H&M, what factors influence your designs? (trends, comfort… etc.)

When it comes to our collections, our customers are the greatest influence. Our aim is to provide our customers around the world with clothes, shoes and accessories that they will genuinely love and continually wear. Pieces that can effortlessly be mixed with their existing wardrobe and feel like a part of them. Pieces that they feel truly express their personal style and love of fashion.

What are your top picks from the last collection you designed?

It’s always hard to choose, but I love the oversized hooded parka-poncho hybrid in the checked print and faux fur trim. It’s so tough yet cosy and you can literally throw it over anything and still look cool. The dresses are also important pieces. They follow the curves of the female body, but also might have a graffiti print or strong, structural elements. Nothing is too precious, which I think comes with the punk attitude we were channelling.

What advice would you give for young upcoming fashion designers?

To follow their hearts and to stay true to their original ideas.