It is obvious from her designs that Sibylle is exceptionally sensitive and reflective. I can describe her designs as very intuitive and made pour le femme avec une forte presence. Wearing Seam Fashion Design I can feel both romantic and sensual but also confident and intent.
What triggers Sibylle’s imagination and emotions are the fabrics she sources for her garments (mostly Swiss made textiles), “This is where everything begins”, says the Swiss designer in St. Gallen. What seems to happen after the textile sourcing is also very interesting. First Sibylle likes to experiment the fabrics, she pushes their boundaries as if she wants to discover how else they can appear. And….apparently conventional techniques and seams do not appeal to her designs. Sibylle strives for something more, she likes to play and enquire and feel and yet no matter how important to her is the fabrics she thinks of the woman who will wear it too. Everything she makes is to encourage female confidence and to embrace womanhood, contributing at the same time to today’s sustainability challenge in fashion. Here’s what the designer says about slow fashion, motherhood and her road of discovering and trusting her own talent.
Style Diaries: When did you start designing? Do you remember your first encounter with fashion?
Sibylle Kuhn: I loved sewing since I was a little girl, I was sewing with my grandmother. I grew up in Solothurn in a small village and fashion is not something that you see every day. You don’t think of fashion much. At the time I loved handicrafts and even till today. After high school I asked myself what should I do. It felt very natural to become a dress maker. That’s when I started buying Vogue and having my own scrap board. I never thought of myself as a designer. In a small village you don’t think of yourself as a designer.
During my studies to become a dressmaker I did an apprenticeship in a small atelier where I met and worked with a couturier. A very impressive lady who was 61 taught me how to do all the seams and the details of a garment…that’s when I thought about the art of dressmaking, how long the process is and how difficult. I don’t think people realize how much work it takes to make a dress.
Style Diaries: Then what? What happened after your apprenticeship?
Sibylle Kuhn: I somehow never thought at the time to have my own label so I became a teacher of crafts and arts. I went to London to develop my skills working with wood and metals and I started working at as an apprentice in a blacksmiths atelier. Later I was being paid for my job there. In London I found out a lot about myself and I realized that no one expects anything from you. When I came back to Switzerland I was 25 I felt I was on a crossroad and I needed to do something before I turn 30 but I still couldn’t trust myself. I wanted someone else to tell me what should I do or become. So after some time, I finally went to Zurich to the Fashion Design School for two years.
Style Diaries: Who encouraged you?
Sibylle Kuhn: My friends
Style Diaries: Do you have a style icon or someone you look up to in fashion design?
Sibylle Kuhn: Alexander McQueen and how he worked his details.
Style Diaries: What is seam fashion design? What do you feel like you are doing differently in this crowded space of fashion designers?
Sibylle Kuhn: My label was born in 2009 after I’ve already been creating garments and working with photographers. When I was invited to a fashion event in Bern I realized I need to think of a name, have a website and business cards. In 2013 I launched my first collection and since then my goal is to make timeless pieces. Pieces that are feminine, I hardly design any pants, I love skirts and dresses. I believe every dress has its own character and soul, you can’t throw it away just because someone said so. I don’t believe any colour can come out of fashion or a certain cut. It either suits you or not, it either compliments your body or not.
Style Diaries: The kind of woman you create for?
Sibylle Kuhn: Definitely a mature and educated woman, who knows herself and how much work there is behind sustainable quality pieces. A woman who likes and appreciates slow fashion. I am not a conventional designer. I don’t believe in sales, because I make honest prices. For me a sales destroy the values of any kind of product, it teaches people that something might worth less and they can throw it away easy. People start seeing or thinking of “cheap” as opposed to worth the value. Big producers make
Style Diaries: For all these years what has changed in your work?
Sibylle Kuhn: When you finish school and you make your graduate collection you don’t think and focus on selling, but expressing yourself. However this changes and later you start thinking more about what women want and I try to design wearable fashion, not what is in my wildest fantasy. Well not always, but sometimes. Most of my pieces are handcrafted, I do all the threads and spend hours on a single unique piece, which later can’t be reproduced for ready-made. I usually make one to three dresses for brides which are single pieces and I love the process of making them. You don’t count the hours then, you lose yourself in the creating.
Style Diaries: How do you want women to feel when they wear your clothes?
Sibylle Kuhn: Feminine, good and comfortable.
Style Diaries: What do you think are the most attractive qualities in a woman?
Sibylle Kuhn: Her womanhood. Women have so many qualities, they can be everything and I think women should not limit themselves only because they are women.
Style Diaries: You create to…..?
Sibylle Kuhn: It makes me tick. I am happy with what I do which is why I keep my label small. I can still be on the sewing machine but also be a mom and a wife.
Style Diaries: If you were not a fashion designer you would be…?
Sibylle Kuhn: I can be many things, I was a blacksmith, being creative is so broad, but I need to do things with my hands: Nature, fabrics, gardening, cooking….I need to express myself.
Special thanks to Sibylle Kuhn for providing Style Diaries with some of her photos, Kathy Patellis-Schmidt for the styling and Hafen Restaurant Zug where we had an amazing shooting!