Interview with Gioia Seghers
How did it all get started?
I graduated from La Cambre in 2012 and my final collection was backed by the museum of lace in Caudry, who financed fabrics. My collection was therefor quite decorative, rich in embellishment, and ended up winning multiple awards. The museum proposed to support my first commercial collection. I just came out of school, and I hadn’t really thought about what I wanted to do, even if I know that making clothes was my calling. With the help of Caudry, the way I set up my brand came quite natural.
And you have a studio in Brussels now?
Yes, I have had my atelier rue de Cureghem for two and a half years now. The space is quite big, and I work on my designs with the help of an intern. Every step of production is done in Belgium. My seamstress, who I’ve been working with for 5 years now, works in Asse. I think nobody knows me better than she does. She has been with me since day one, it’s a true collaboration. Having your own brand is something that you need to work on every day and for a long time, so I’m grateful to have her with me.
The fabric you use seems to be essential to your work.
When I create a collection, it’s the fabric that will inspire me. In my graduate collection it was lace that guided me. I will always try to manipulate and transform the textile. My starting point is the fabric, and for SS17 I wanted to challenge myself with other types and experiment. I chose a more rigged cotton, a fabric I rarely work with. What I liked about it is that, for the blue bomber jacket for example, the garments have a certain rigidity, and a lightness at the same time. The bomber has slits in the back, that open up when you move, without transforming the shape of the original garment. The white parka, a beautiful oversized coat, is made out of a stronger cotton, so when you close it it creates a voluminous structure. I love playing with texture, and experiment what happens when I fold, fringe or stretch the material.
You mentioned the blue bomber jacket that opens up as the wearer moves. What role does movement play in your design process?
When I design, I think of texture, I think of the body, and I think of movement. My work evolved in that direction. Before I used to focus on the fabric and the embellishments, now I focus on the way my clothing will be worn. What will it look like on the body, and how will the women wearing it feel? What will happen between her and the garment? This connection is the centre of my research. The body, the garment, but also the emotional attachment that is created. The physical link, and the sentimental one. That is why I seek to create a collection that is timeless. Clothing that survives trends and that you’ll never get bored with. I use a lot of primary colours – blue, red, black and white – because I want my clothes to last.
Your designs breathe movement. How important is dance to you?
I made costumes for Charleroi Danse last year, for a performance by Thierry De Mey, SIMPLEXITY. It was a wonderful experience to meet the dancers and learn how they push the limits of movement. Ever since, I’ve been passionate about dance (I even want to take classes myself). I plan to do a series on dance and movement with the photographer Ismael Moumin.
This steers the way you design, thinking of the way the wearer will move. I think that’s why your clothes feel more accessible, any woman can look amazing in them.
Yes. Often people ask me – who is the woman you design for? I just want to tell them, it’s above all a body, a body in movement, and that can be a 16-year-old girl or a woman of 60. That person might feel like covering up one day, and showing her body the next. I like giving multiple possibilities of how my garments can be worn, whether you can pull up the sleeves of a top or reveal a split in a skirt. It’s very subtle, but my garments are always transformable.
Transformation, movement, the body – for me it’s about connections. The connections between human beings and their garments.
Image Blue Cotton Bomber, available in store.
Still from a film by Constantin Didishiem, watch here.