Interview: Stefanie Biggel – The modern Goddess

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Stefanie Biggel’s new collection entitled ‘Hysteria’ is her response to her surroundings in Athens. The Swiss designer moved to Greece after spending a year in London, to collaborate with artist Klaus Juergen Schmidt on her textiles. Influenced by her setting, she spent time discussing the concept of a goddess and thinking about the woman she aspired to be. ‘Hysteria’ is a reaction to her new home and a reflection of her feminine side.

How did living in London effect your brand and perhaps your creative process? 

At the time I moved away, I needed anonymity. Zurich is so small and you meet people around every corner. I wanted to be isolated for some time to focus 100% on my work. London was perfect for this. I felt I was taken more seriously as a designer than in Switzerland, and there were more possibilities for my brand.

Why have you now re-located to Greece?

It was actually a coincidence that I came here. The actual plan was to work on a project in Athens during the summer but then I just stayed. Life is a lot more relaxed here and I realized that London had exhausted me a lot. The actual situation in Greece is not easy so you start thinking beyond fashion and that there are other important things in life. Of course, it’s a bit difficult to be that far away from the actual “industry” but I personally don’t mind to be honest. It’s what I wanted.

Before your clothes were labelled as being more androgynous. This collection has “elements of hyper-sexualised or fetishised femininity.” Why the shift to be more feminine? 

To me femininity has many different aspects. When I came to Greece I felt very much confronted with Greek culture and how they see women. Also, if you go back to ancient history you find some radical information about this topic. During my last collaboration “The Cult of Athena” [with Klaus Juergen Schmidt] we constantly discussed “the goddess” and women in general. I started asking myself what kind of woman I am and who I want to be. There was a lot of self-study involved.

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What was is the story that inspired your SS16 collection? 

“Hysteria” is a response to the overflowing nature of the way we receive information today and also a response to my localities. I wanted to create a new uniform that speaks of a moment for myself as a woman. The collection builds these layers of that moment. It was developed piece by piece in a very intuitive way where I edited all the different influences of my surrounding, with the allowance of fun and femininity while still remaining serious.

Who is the Stefanie Biggel woman that you are designing for?

She is a real woman that likes to change and evolve, wants to have fun, is serious, and has to struggle and find her way in life. It’s all about authenticity.

Tell me more about your long-standing working relationship with textile artist Klaus Juergen Schmidt. 

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Our collaboration started in a very professional way when we had met for the first time, it happened mostly via Skype and phone. Since we both relocated to Athens we became good friends. Klaus has a very sensitive approach to things and understands women like no other man I know. This makes it incredibly interesting to work together. He really challenges me, which builds a rich foundation for my work.

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Why have you decided to not label your seasons and see them as projects? 

I want to have the freedom to constantly change and evolve and I see every collection as a unique project and part of my life. Of course, there are certain aesthetics that repeat themselves but I don’t want to label my work. Also I am not happy with the fashion industry and its speed. I don’t believe in the term “it’s so last season”.

What are your thoughts on the recent change to the fashion system for buying the big fashion houses’ collections directly after the show? 

I think it’s a very interesting concept, although only for big brands with the financial ability to do so.

How will this effect your brand? 

It made me think about new solutions for the market and my brand. Something has to change indeed.

What is next for your brand? 

I am thinking about new possibilities that allow me to find my own rhythm in the industry. I definitely want to focus more on handcraft and a more direct way of creating. I don’t want to feel that business pressure anymore and want to have the freedom to also focus on other projects and collaborations outside of the brand frame without being labeled.

Interview: Janine Bartels

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artwork by klaus juergen schmidt

 

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