Imagine a reincarnated Kurt Cobain, garbed in floral prints and mohair, with that surly smile and haunting nonchalance. He is disheveled, but undeniably striking (as Courtney Love declared in the recent documentary on the late icon, “he was a better-looking guy than Brad Pitt”). Several decades later, designer Stefanie Biggel revives a posthumous yearning for the plucky, apathetic pose of 90s youth culture. In her latest collection, Homesome, Biggel journeys home to her past, and arrives at a nuanced expression of luxury-grunge.
Homesome AW15 is the Swiss-born designer’s 7th collection, after having launched her eponymous label in 2012. It’s also possibly her most daring and imaginative presentation. Biggel transports us to an angst-ridden daydream of smoky skies littered with slouchy silhouettes clutching each other at the precipice of adulthood. (Naturally, they are ensconced in wool, best suited for the oceanic climate of the Pacific Northwest). The concept is playful, but the attitude is aloof. The look is ungendered and undone, but just structured enough to reflect the precision of a true couturier. The Homesome girl might be adrift in a sea of teenage ennui, but she possesses the conviction of a woman in bloom.
What is the personal significance of your AW15 collection Homesome?
In the Urban Dictionary, “homesome” means “any place or thing that evokes a memory of your home.” For me, “home” means hanging out with your friends and feeling connected to a group. Friends are like family, especially when you’re young. Since I’ve moved away from Switzerland last year, this topic became more significant to me. I had to find a new meaning of home for myself.
You’ve cited 90s grunge and teenage boredom, documented in the era’s music and film, as your primary inspirations for Homesome. How do these themes relate to your own experience of growing up at that time?
Many memories came up indeed. As a teenager, you try to find your own identity and want to belong to a group to feel safe and cool. That was the key inspiration for the collection. There is also something depressing about being a teenager. Especially when you grow up in a small village like I did. So Kurt Cobain was totally a symbol of the spirit at that time. I was also very interested in that “I don’t care” attitude.
What does "the cool" look like to you?
In this collection, it’s about all these layers and weird colour combinations. It looks very random, but of course it’s not. Also, it demands a certain level of nonchalance and attitude to wear the ‘cool’ look.
Textures play a vital role in Homesome. What’s your favorite material to manipulate and transform?
I love to combine all kinds of different colours and patterns. To me, the quality is always very important and I love woven and 3-dimensional materials. Denim and leather are always very interesting to transform, creating a new surface.
What is the intention behind your aesthetic and conceptual juxtapositions (i.e. masculine versus feminine, structured versus slouchy, minimalism versus excess, or even more literally, in pattern-blocking)?
To me, this reflects life. There are many contradictions and no rules. Anything can happen at any minute and there’s a surprise around every corner. It’s just very challenging and fun to bring these contrasts together. It might irritate people sometimes, but that’s good.
How does Homesome differ from your past collections?
This collection was very personal and reflected my current state of mind. When I moved to London 10 months ago, friendship suddenly had a total new meaning to me. Also I became a lot more relaxed. The approach to fashion is so different outside Switzerland. I feel free to do whatever I want now. This you can definitely see in the collection. I am more myself now.
Tell us about your collaboration with textile designer Klaus Schmidt. How did you locate a shared vision of this collection? Which pieces reflect this collaboration best?
 Klaus and I got along really well from the beginning. We share a similar vision in life. But he influences the collection with feminine elements, whereas I am more interested in the masculine part. In this collection, the florals reflect this best; attached to oversized unisex sweaters, they represent our collaboration well.
Your womenswear has been lauded for it’s innovative take on androgyny. Overall, what is your take on "gendered dressing" in fashion?
I don’t think there should be labels for what’s masculine or feminine. It can change constantly and it will even more in the future. Nevertheless, I adore the female body and want to celebrate it. A woman’s wardrobe should always be well-balanced. It also depends a lot on your mood – if you want to show off what you’ve got or not.
Have you considered designing menswear, and if so, why?
Yes, totally! The last collection already contained some unisex pieces, and this will continue. There shouldn't be boundaries. Nevertheless a whole menswear collection is not planned right now. I’m moving towards a sexless ideal. This is what I’m mostly interested in.
How did you know you wanted to become a designer? What’s been your proudest moment thus far?
It happened at a very young age. My grandmother was a seamstress and had her own store. I spent a lot of time there as a kid, dressing up. She was also collecting a lot of stuff like feathers and little treasures. It was like being in paradise. At that time, I kind of knew already.
My proudest moment so far was to see my collection on the catwalk for the first time. That was very exciting, and since then, I’ve been nervous every time I have a show.
What are you currently working on? What are you exploring next?
There are a lot of exciting things happening right now. I’ve moved to Athens recently to work on a new collection. I think it’s very important for me to go after new adventures each season. It’s inspiring.