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Julia Seeman, a Swiss designer, completed her studies in Basel before moving to London, where she worked with icons such as Vivienne Westwood and Meadham Kirchhoff. Upon the completion of her degree, she took a chance and submitted her graduate collection to the New York-based collective VFiles, and was chosen one of the winners. The day after, Rihanna wore one of her garments. And the rest is history. Since then, she has been able to work with others all the while staying true to herself and her brand – creating a world that is truly her own, collecting experiences (the latest, doing a road trip to California), and sharing them with the world. 
You studied in Basel and your life is now based in Zurich (Switzerland). But where does your fascination with the United States come from?
I always dreamt of doing a road trip through California, so after saving a little money, we decided to embark on this journey. What’s fascinating for me as a Swiss citizen is the geographical size of the United States, to name one reason. We do live in one of the smallest countries in the world, with many mountains and tiny villages, so we felt quite impressed with the landscape in California and the huge area that Los Angeles covers.
You’ve pointed out the dissimilarities between your life in Central Europe and in the United States. What about the dissimilarities between your studies in Basel and your work experience in London?
Studying fashion design compared to working at a fashion brand is a whole different experience. At university, we were very free and what mattered in the first place was the whole design approach, concept and creativity of each student as an individual. When I started working in London, I recognized that a fashion brand has to rely on their team in the first place and that in the end, it’s all teamwork to realise a collection.
How would you say your experiences in London, working for Vivienne Westwood and Meadham Kirchhoff, shaped your design approach today?
During my time at Vivienne Westwood and Meadham Kirchhoff I realized how important it is to create meaningful collections, which tell an authentic and unique story. Both brands have/had a very strong vision and language and that’s what I think really matters in fashion today, not to only to make nice products but to create a statement, to inspire and to stand for an idea.

Your debut was through VFiles in New York, can you tell us a little about how that happened?
I uploaded the lookbook of my graduate collection on their online platform and two weeks later I got a call from Julie Anne Quay, CEO of Vfiles, telling me that I’m one of the winners of Vfiles Runway. I was flown to New York and there were fittings, interviews and a lot of preparations. And one day after the show, Rihanna was wearing one of my looks. It all happened very fast.
Was it your solely your West Coast road trip that led to the inspiration behind your Fall/Winter 2018 collection?
The main inspiration comes from our West Coast trip and things we saw and experienced there. For example, the theme of new age spirituality, which refers to our trip but can also be seen as a disconnected influence.
Your collection juxtaposes understated, sleek silhouettes with powerful prints and colours. Is this something that is present in your personal style as well?
Somehow yes, I personally like to wear clothes that are easy to wear but at the same time embody a message. I do very much identify myself with the garments I’m designing and I think that’s key for every fashion designer. In the end, what I’m doing reflects my personal interests and who I am.

Actually, when looking at your collection, I can’t stop thinking about the early and mid-2000s: What would you say are the top three/five highlights of that decade? (Both in fashion or for you personally).
It’s the decade of my own adolescence and I think that my personality and interests were shaped by things that surrounded me back then. There was music such as electro, indie and alternative rock, but also the appearance of social media platforms such as Myspace or Facebook was a big deal. Regarding fashion, I think Raf Simons’ Closer Collection is the most important of that time.
How did Body Sensations, an underground platform dedicated to electronic underground music, come to be?
My boyfriend Flavio, who is running the label together with me, has been hosting shows and parties for a couple of years now. In our circle of friends, we have a lot of people who are producing or playing music themselves. We are always looking for new and upcoming artists and we both share the same passion for underground music from the ‘80s and the ‘90s, so it only felt natural to create a platform where we can support and share the work of the artists we love and that we are surrounded by all the time.
In the last year, our parties have been quite limited to electronic music because we paid a lot of attention to these kinds of artists at the time. But Body Sensations shouldn’t be only about electronic music, it’s about all the music we love, whether it be hardcore punk, industrial, goth, EBM, techno, trance, shoegaze and more.
Have you always wanted to take part in the music scene, or was it by chance? 
Music has always been a big part of my life ever since I was little. My father was a professional guitar player back in the ‘80s, my uncle used to host shows of iconic bands such as Siouxie and the Banshees or The Jesus & Mary Chain back then, and my sister is now a vocalist for classical music. It has ever since played a big role in my life, also as a teenager when one is trying to find it’s identity.

How important is music when designing a collection?
The music I listen to always sets me in the right mood for an upcoming project. It really influences the whole mood of a collection and it’s often connected to the images I gather for my moodboard. Music facilitates my imagination and also helps me relax and daydream.
Where do you go for your inspiration?
I don’t ‘go’ somewhere to find inspiration, I think that would be the wrong approach. Inspiration, rather, happens to me during personal activities, for example, it’s a collection of experiences rather than a search for it. It always happens naturally to me.
Your collaborations go from Swarovski to Eastpak; but what would your dream collaboration be?
There are so many brands, artists, graphic designers or musicians out there with whom I could think of working together because of different reasons. So it's really hard for me to name only a single one. But anyway, we have seen such a profusion of collaborations in the last years. We believe that there is no need to create more superfluous, nonreflective products with our brand. We want to focus on smart and innovative projects, with a deeper sense and a more meaningful story. There definitely are potential partners for such projects, but time will tell what's going to happen.

Do you see Julia Seemann as a cohesive brand, or has it not reached that point yet? 
I would say that I’m not in the position to evaluate this on an objective level.
Is becoming a ‘brand’ something that is of interest to you?
It doesn‘t really interest me to become a brand myself and I didn’t plan to establish a namesake fashion label. It just happened when I was invited to Vfiles, my graduate collection was on an international runway in New York, worn by one of the most famous popstars the day after the show, and we received orders from different stores worldwide. But if I think about it now, the meaning and background of both my surname and last name and also the combination of both somehow perfectly represent our work. Julia is a famous female surname strongly related to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, which is based on mythology. Seemann is German for ‘sailor’, a traditional profession which can be related to classic workwear. So it feels very natural to represent our brand with my name.
What do you think it means to be in fashion today?
At a time when trends are coming and going so fast and new labels are popping up every day, I believe as an independent designer that it’s very important to stay true to yourself, do the things you love, tell your story and try to shape your own unique world.

Dara Hamarneh

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