Instead of getting a job at one of the big fashion houses, as so many other fashion design graduates, Belgian-born Gioia Seghers decided to take the riskier path. Shortly after finishing the prestigious La Cambre school and winning a number of prizes with her final year collection, she jumped into unknown waters and founded her very own clothing label. It’s a long and winding road, but a rewarding one, she tells us in this interview.
How and when did you get interested in fashion? Is it something you’ve always been into, already as a kid?
I started to get interested in fashion at a pretty young age, when I was about 12. My grandmother crocheted and knitted a lot, and during one summer she taught me everything. I began making hats and scarves. Later I moved on to the sewing machine, and when I was 14 I made my first “clothes”. Back then I already knew that I wanted to become a fashion designer. I have also always been fascinated by my grandmother’s wardrobe. She was always so well-kept and embodied this certain Italian elegance. I still have some of her pieces. Love for clothes, fabrics, and fashion has somehow always been present in my family.
What are your tips for other young designers who are just starting out?
I still consider myself at the beginning of a long road. But so far I can say that what has made me move forward is the passion for my work, perseverance, being open to advice, and exchanging and sharing with others.
What made you take the leap to launch your own brand? Why not work for a big fashion house?
I can’t really explain it. I just felt this really strong drive and desire to go for it and to find myself after five years at La Cambre. I wanted to tell my own story. After graduating I also won a prize which gave me a bit of a financial boost, making the step a little bit easier.
What have been the biggest challenges in doing that?
I had to learn in a very short time how to manage everything myself. I had to realise that when you launch your own brand all by yourself, you have to juggle so many different things at once: the creation, production, accountancy, communication, .. In the end, the time that remains for true creation is very limited. It maybe makes up about a quarter of my time. But that is something that will evolve. My team will become bigger soon, and then I will be able to dedicate more time to pure creation.
What have been your highlights so far?
It’s been a great honour for me to be present at Stijl, one of Brussels most prestigious fashion stores. My collection will also be for sale at Guya in Florence and at Ashto Trading in Cairo. Being able to dress women such as Pascale Mussart has also been a great experience.
How would you describe your brand? What are your inspirations? What kind of women do you imagine wearing it?
My work is a constant evolution, but it does have one major common thread: a relaxed kind of elegance paired with a preference for beautiful fabric and a personal reflection about clothing in general. I want to create clothes which are timeless; pieces that you keep for a long time, take care of, and pass on to others. I don’t really think of a woman at first, I rather imagine a moving, breathing body. A free-spirited woman who changes her outfit depending on her mood, and my clothes accompany her.
Why only women? Ever thought about expanding it to men?
I want to take my time to define my work around female clothing; I don’t want to rush anything. Maybe I’ll also take on men’s clothing one day, but I still have so much to experiment with when it comes to women. Plus, some pieces could also be worn by men!
Who are your favorite Belgian designers and why?
Haider Ackermann is not born in Belgium, but his education is completely Belgian. I really admire his work, especially his use of colors, contrasts and unexpected combinations. I’m also a fan of Ann Demeulemeester, whose work is very poetic and has a very strong identity.
What’s coming up for you in the next months?
The upcoming months will be pretty intense and exciting. I’ll be presenting my new winter 2016/17 collection during the Paris fashion week in the NoSeason showroom. I’m also making the costumes for the next show of Thierry de Mey in the context of Charleroi Danse, which will premiere this May. Additionally I’m working with Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave and Petit H d’Hermes on the the creation of unique pieces on the basis of leather scraps.