Carla Knapp Wants You to Wear Something Decadent and Crazy

Knapp outside her studio.Photo: Melissa Hom

Carla Knapp, the lanky and gorgeous face behind Mischen, has garnered a following with young Hollywood and fashionistas alike (Alexis Bledel wore one of her dresses to a premiere recently). Despite never having done an actual show or presentation, Mischen’s already selling at Nordstrom, Intermix, Henri Bendel, and Harvey Nichols. Knapp’s finally showing this September. We caught up with her in her studio to talk Fashion Week, her favorite designers, and where she scores her vintage finds.

What’s behind the name Mischen?
It’s pronounced just like the English word mission. It means to mix in German. I liked how it sounded a bit androgynous and interesting, and it’s the perfect philosophy behind what we do. Lots of layering, like our fabric work for spring. It’s definitely a mix.

This is your first presentation during Fashion Week. How’s it going?
It’s terrifying! We haven’t done castings. I think we have everything in place. We have a lot of really great people onboard. Friends are helping us. And we just had to do it this time around because look books are great, but we’ve been under the radar long enough.

What’s the first designer thing you ever bought?
It was probably from a thrift or consignment store in Winnipeg. An eighties Chanel sweater.

It was 90 degrees when this was taken. Notice the scarf.Photo: Melissa Hom

So you’re wearing a scarf even though it’s really hot out. What do you think of that trend?
I have always worn scarves. It’s a bit grungy. I really like it. I’m really still feeling the grungy, like early-nineties thing, but I always have one or two scarves here in the office. I’m a freak.

What are some of your favorite vintage stores?
I used to love the Chelsea flea market. I got so many costume-jewelry pieces and thirties and forties slips, tap shorts, and jackets. It’s not so good anymore. Edith & Daha is cute. And eBay. That’s where most of the stuff I have is from.

Are there any trends you wish would go away?
Leggings. I think that’s sort of going away already. I saw a thing about leather leggings and no … And the love of jersey. I don’t know if that’s ever going to go away. When I start a collection, I never, ever think of jersey.

What designers do you love?
Balenciaga, love Marni, love Miu Miu. There are some really great men’s designers. I love Robbie Geller, love Thom Browne. I mean, I get really inspired by menswear too.

What’s one thing you really want to buy right now?
Besides an apartment? I really feel like I should treat myself to a couple pair of shoes. Or a vacation to Barbados.

Alexis Bledel wore this dress to a premiere. Fancy.Photo: Courtesy of Mischen

What’s something that every woman should have in her closet?
I think high-waisted pant trousers, a fantastic blazer, and something really decadent and crazy.

Decadent and crazy?
Prints. I think people should have more prints in their wardrobe. I think people shop for other people; they don’t shop for themselves like they should.

Do you think you dress for yourself?
Hells yeah! It’s way more fun that way. —Amina Akhtar

Carla Knapp Wants You to Wear Something Decadent and Crazy