You may recognize Silk Laundry for its ‘90s-era slip dresses and minimalist staple pieces, but these days, the luxury apparel brand’s signature aesthetic evokes so much more than beauty. “My inspiration is coming from very specific palettes at the moment,” says Silk Laundry founder and creative director Katie Kolodinski, who was recently nominated for CAFA‘s Womenswear Designer of The Year award for the second time. “I’m not really looking at trends and I’m not necessarily looking at my Pantone book. I’m looking at nature and pulling colours from there,” she says.

For part two of the brand’s latest collection, Open Spaces, the Canadian-Australian designer organized a team road trip from Barcelona—where Kolodinski currently resides—to the south of France to shoot the campaign. “It was the first time that I’ve been behind the camera, and it was a really beautiful experience,” she says. Every print, colour and silhouette in this collection was inspired by Kolodinski’s deepest friendships, the natural world and her relationship to art.

“My print designer Laura [Prochowski], who has become a really good friend of mine, gave me a sketch of a horse, and one of the prints was inspired by that,” she says. Kolodinski was also influenced by female artists that took risks and pushed boundaries throughout their careers, including abstract expressionist painter Helen Frankenthaler. “I went to a few galleries here [in Barcelona] and it was the first time that I’ve seen her work in person. Many of the colours were based around her artistic expression,” she says. “It’s more about storytelling than finding a pretty print, [and now] it’s becoming a part of our DNA.”

Here, Kolodinski talks her design process, working with colour and her rules for minimalist dressing.

Silk Laundry

How has your process as a designer evolved since you first started the brand?

“When I first started Silk Laundry, I was very limited with my knowledge and resources. We had four or five pieces, a skirt, a slip dress—only the essentials. I was working with end of roll fabrics, so I could only use the colours that were available, like black and burgundy and navy blue. I didn’t have a team, either. It was only myself and someone next to me trying to send out orders.

Once I met my print designer Laura, we did our first polka dot print together and even that was [challenging] for me. I’ve never really been a prints person, because none of them ever meant anything to me. As we’ve gotten to know each other more, we bounce off each other really well. We’re reading the same books, we’re inspired by the same things. Now, I’m able to create collections around themes, whereas before I was just creating very basic essentials.”

Silk Laundry

If I'm down or struggling a little bit, I don't want to wear grey or black. When I walk around in lavender or I’m dressed in full yellow from head-to-toe, I know it makes me feel better.

Many of your pieces are so vibrant. What role does colour play in your designs and in your personal approach to dressing?

“For me, colour is huge. I used to wear nothing but black, but I started playing more with colour and prints during COVID. Colour has so much to do with the psychology of living, and I think it can really change your outlook and how you’re feeling. Sometimes I feel incredible and perfect as I am in black, but sometimes I feel like I’m in mourning. If I’m down or struggling a little bit, I don’t want to wear grey or black. When I walk around in lavender or I’m dressed in full yellow from head-to-toe, I know it makes me feel better.”

Who are the Canadians inspiring you right now?

“I was living in Montreal for a while, and a lot of my friends are singers and songwriters. Ellie Rose is a friend of mine and she’s doing amazing things. I saw Charlotte Cardin the other day in Amsterdam, and she’s amazing onstage. I love the way she dresses and sings and presents herself. I also think Aurora James is super cool with her Fifteen Percent Pledge. Those Canadian women are doing really [exceptional] things and sticking to what they believe in.”

Silk Laundry is well-known for its minimalist statement pieces. What are your tips for elevating minimalist garments?

“Bringing minimalist garments to life is very, very easy. I still dress quite simply, and when I’m traveling, I usually try to stick to a very basic [wardrobe] that I can carry on. I pack an amazing brooch or a couple of really beautiful earrings that don’t take up much space in my bags. Accessorize with bold, brave things that mean something to you. When you have a beautiful piece of jewellery or a really cool pair of shoes, it changes everything about the look. You can wear something like a simple slip dress during the day, but as soon as you put on a big pair of earrings, and do your hair and put lipstick on, you can wear it to a wedding. It’s the easiest way to dress something up and change the way you feel about yourself.”