DESIGNER TALKS: ARIENNE BIRCHLER
When embroidery is mentioned, Swiss designer Arienne Birchler, is no doubt part of the conversation. Since graduating from Antwerp Fashion Academy, Arienne has created a number of womenswear collections that show combined themes of strength, femininity, and elegance.
Arienne’s archive boasts a wide range of fabrics, including silks, wool and viscose. Impressively, her embroidery techniques are even vaster, including sequins, appliqué, beading and hand glazed aluminum flowers. Silhouettes are cut with interest, often flowing, gathered, and synched to create eye-catching ready-to-wear looks.
For the launch of Arienne’s collection at Tasoni, we asked the Zürich-based designer to discuss early inspiration and her first steps in the fashion industry.
Tasoni: What is the best piece of advice you ever received and who did it come from?
Arienne: During a Job interview with Alber Elbaz. He thoroughly reviewed my portfolio and told me he discovered a strength in my work in which I had never dared to give enough faith. He insisted that I fully trust myself and completely detach from everything I had systematically learned. That conversation helped me tear down the wall between my artistic practice and my work as a designer.
Tasoni: What is your first memory of working in the fashion industry?
Arienne: Dries van Noten hired me to work for his embroidery and jewelry department. A job I had never done before. I was young, highly excited, and very nervous. During the first weeks, I had to figure out how to work with many people in one room and understand the system's unspoken rules. Most of all, I learned how to bundle and filter through my ideas and pitch them at the next meeting.
Tasoni: If someone could play you in a film, who would it be?
Arienne: Adèle Exarchopoulos
Tasoni: Can you walk us through the inspiration for your latest collection?
Arienne: The last two pandemic years have let the world stagnate and stumble. And as soon as the slight hope of recovery showed up, another horror arose with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. - I asked myself, where to start the narrative of a new collection in the middle of that turmoil? I found the answer in focusing on the people, their longings, and visions - where we reconnect and experience ourselves unfiltered. My last collection celebrates a reunion in unveiled beauty. The wardrobe manifests a liberated sensuality, paired with vibrant elegance and an instant moment of collective experience. I want to reconceptualize and ultimately rediscover ideas of beauty. Beauty isn't embodied by aesthetics but by movement; garments are signs and representations of the beauty of respect, love, and reality.
Tasoni: Do you have a designer you look up to?
Arienne: Miuccia Prada, Phoebe Philo, and Martin Margiela
Tasoni: What has inspired your work the most?
Arienne: I am inspired and nurtured by the study of the female body and psyche of today and tomorrow. My collections are a personal reflection and engagement with society's movements, art, literature, and music. Such as the sculpture Offspring by Pierre Huyghe, The soundtrack Under the skin of Mica Levi, the book In the eye of the wild by Nastassja Martin. Another powerful source is my mother. She is the most natural and best-dressed person I know. Living with us children in the countryside, without access to high fashion magazines or clothes, she created this very personal taste and feeling for garments. Her effortless attitude, sense of textures, colors, and shapes, and how she carries her body have influenced me since I can remember.
Tasoni: What do you look for when styling pieces together?
Arienne: That they aren't a perfect match. I am curious about what conversation they may have, and how they let us stumble and observe something different. Beauty's longevity doesn't lie in harmony; the edge, the slight indifference, holds our attention and draws us to the object.
Tasoni: Are you working on anything interesting you can share with us?
Arienne: My new project is subtitled "the melancholic summer collection" - It is the craving for a summer dress that is cool and sensual, a bit mysterious and uncanny - imagine you could make an appearance at the cocktail party in the movie La Notte but in 2024.