It was during London Fashion Week at the British Fashion Council’s (BFC) International Fashion Showcase awards announcements where we first met the young talent Vanessa Schindler. Invited by the Swiss Embassy in the UK to show one of her looks, she got shortlisted for the Designer of the Year award and to show at Mode Suisse. We had a chance to ask her a few questions.
Vanessa, you’ve just been shortlisted by the BFC and recently won an award for the best Masters collection 2016 at HEAD Genève’s annual fashion show. Were you expecting it and how does it feel?
To be honest I wasn’t expecting it because my classmates did beautiful collections and, to me, it would have been impossible to define a winner! It came as a great surprise and it feels good to receive this recognition, especially at the end of this Masters (MA).
How does your own description of your designs differ from that of others?
I did huge research on materials during my two years’ MA at HEAD. Maybe the strength of my work lies here. I developed a new technique of garment construction and was able to build this collection from a special point of view. I used a material called urethane, which is liquid, and when it dries joins the fabrics together and defines a new vocabulary of construction. For example, I drew a line on my fabrics to avoid a classical hem. In a formal way, this technique offered a very special aesthetic I played with, a kind of fake liquidity frozen in my garments.
What are the three most important things you learned at HEAD?
I did this MA there because I knew I would have the freedom to do exactly what I wanted. The most important thing I learned was probably the fact that the professors always encourage us to push the boundaries further. I also learned to be independent and free in my work.
Where has the school still got potential to improve?
Each year I get the feeling that the projects are better, so it is related to the way this school offers great teachers and structure (spaces and new machines). HEAD will continue to improve, I am sure. Léa Peckre, the new art director, invites people who are extremely involved in fashion brands now, and we are lucky to meet all of them.
How would you describe your approach to fashion design?
My approach focuses on a reflection about how, as a designer, I am to question what I’m producing. I developed this new technique to be able to create a garment entirely in my studio and reconsider craft in a modern way.
What makes a garment complete?
Maybe when its development and appearances work together.
Where do you see the industry going and what do you think are the pros and cons of this development?
I really don’t know where the industry is going but I decided to be radical and avoid it in a way, because, especially in fashion, everything goes too fast, and my aim is to respect my work, the people who will realise my pieces and the people who will buy my garments. I want to be a utopist!
If you could have given the younger you advice, what would that have been?
I would be able to answer in ten years maybe!
What’s next for you?
I’m applying to different competitions with my MA project. In the next months, I will create a new collection inspired by Urethane Pool, chapitre 2 and a two years’ research period I’m currently engaged with. I also will collaborate with different artists who make sculptures and performances.
Thank you for your time.
Interview: NoéMie Schwaller
Pictures: Myriam Ziehli