Claws, bums and finger shoes: Beate Karlsson on her unusual but wearable garments

Having dabbled in a more traditional form of fashion design, Beate has experienced the industry from all angles. And now, she’s gravitating towards the more extreme side of things, creating works of art that double down as clothing. This is why her process involves plenty of experimentation, or as she says, “trying to liberate myself from the recognised to hopefully end up in a hyperbolic form of truth.” Working intuitively and changing her goals and wishes with each and every project, she does, however, adhere towards a semi-regular structure. This tends to begin with a vision for a piece that she feels is worth going into further, before moving onto sketching or creating a clay prototype, and then finally the execution. “I don’t have the best patience and I also feel like you can often loose the magic on an idea if takes too long to bring it to fruition. So, I try to find the most effective medium to work in to make the process as smooth as possible.”
A recently completed piece of Beate’s is called The Bloody Feet. It’s not your typical boot, though, as the pair resembles long and flesh-coloured fingers – a spooky take on typical footwear. The project arose as an extension of The Claws, a show created a few years ago that sees an enlarged version of a hand brought to life at the other (and wrong) end of the body. Turning back to her latest footwear offering, she notes: “Disfiguring shapes – in this case, the shape of a hand – to disrupt our associations of the original source inspires me.” Influenced by the idea of turning a hand shape into the platform of a shoe, the concept expanded from the notion of “walking with your ‘hands’”.
At first bewildering, the level of surprise might be continued as you find out that all of her pieces are made to be worn. The Claw, for instance, can be walked in, even if it looks like you might face plant the floor if you do. The Bloody Feet, on the other hand, is also made to wear, but perhaps not your go-to choice for your daily walk in the park or journey to pick up your groceries. “As a designer, I’d be honoured to see anyone wearing my pieces, because you’d know it would require some guts,” adds Beate on the topic of who she envisions wearing her designs. “With this said, I’m honoured that so many vibrant people want to wear them, because they usually style my pieces in such an interesting way.” So, there we have it – would you have the guts?