Representing the creative future

Running a brand is not a one-person job: Christina Seewald worked as a trio for SS22

For the latest collection, the knitwear brand based in Vienna went full-on collaboration with a three-women team

Asymmetric cuts, contrasting textures, and a lot of conceal yet reveal. Christina Seewald’s designs carry the young brand’s signature in their carefully crafted loops. Since her graduation from the MA Fashion at Central Saint Martins in 2019, Christina’s eponymous label has firmly established itself as a destination for carefully sourced and crafted knitwear made in Europe. For Spring/Summer 2022, the designer teamed up with two of her former interns, Tamina and Lisa, turning the latest season into a three-women show.

This collection is, in contrast to previous seasons, much sleeker and clean-cut in appearance. The team’s latest designs reference silhouettes from both the 60s and 90s. Eras that favour simplicity over-exuberance. Past colour palettes have always been subtle and natural, but this time it all comes down to two distinct shades. Rich blue meets off-white in knit that is delicate in that it flows along with one’s frame almost seamlessly, while accessories such as headpieces or low-rise crochet gloves are what elevate this collection and make it feel refreshingly different.

To commemorate this change of pace, we had the pleasure to ask the trio behind SS22 some questions. In an exclusive conversation, they share how they developed this season together, their thoughts on the currently ever-present craze surrounding collaborations in fashion, and, of course, the inspiration behind this collection.

Most readers are probably familiar with Christina and her namesake brand, but Tamina and Lisa, would you two like to introduce yourselves and your journey with the brand?

Lisa: I finished my degree in communications in Vienna and started fashion design in Shanghai after that. While I was studying there, Covid-19 broke out, so I decided to go back to Vienna. Back then, it was a temporary solution until the situation would ease. I wanted to use my time in Austria to do an internship and got to know Christina over a mutual friend around the same time. It worked out so well between us right from the start, and I have stayed ever since.

Tamina: I started working for Christina as an intern and have been here since then. Before that, I studied fashion design in Vienna and England. I have really enjoyed working with both Christina and Lisa from the very beginning, as we not only function well on a professional level, but also connected on a personal one. For me, working with people I consider friends is something very special, especially in an industry where everything can be stressful and competitive.

“As a young entrepreneur, it is a lot of responsibility to get it all done by myself, primarily because it’s not just design anymore.” – Christina Seewald

How did the collaboration between the three of you come to be, and what has been each person’s role in the process?

Christina: After graduating from MA Fashion at Central Saint Martins, I founded this brand in 2019. As a young entrepreneur, it is a lot of responsibility to get it all done by myself, primarily because it’s not just design anymore. Overall, I am overlooking as well as delegating everything from production and finances to the final looks for the presentation. Luckily, I have a trustworthy team that I can rely on. But in general, research and knitwear development are closest to my heart for each season.

Lisa: It all started with us wanting to expand our range and also add more menswear pieces to the line. In the beginning, we were just working on a few pieces when Christina asked me if I wanted menswear as my main focus. I feel like our values and aesthetics match and complement each other, so doing menswear to accompany Christina’s womenswear was a great opportunity, and I really appreciate her trusting me with this. I’ve been head of menswear since AW21/22, and I am happy that we did more menswear looks this season. In a small team, tasks are often shared between the three of us, and we’re always giving each other valuable advice and creative input.

Tamina: I mainly focus on production and work in our atelier in Vienna. Besides that, I am also responsible for social media and styling inquiries. As Lisa just said, we are still a small team, so all three of us are part of each step in the process.

Christina Seewald's process

“It’s essential to get helping hands to manage the workload. Lisa and Tamina started as interns, but their work ethic and morals impressed me in a way that I wanted to continue working with them.” – Christina Seewald

Christina, what changed for you working with Tamina and Lisa?

Christina: Delegating has never really been my strength. Already in my master’s degree, I realised that it’s essential to get helping hands to manage the workload. Lisa and Tamina started as interns, but their work ethic and morals impressed me in a way that I wanted to continue working with them. I hugely benefit from this collaboration, primarily because I can focus more on the knit/design part, which I enjoy the most, and we can share and exchange ideas. For SS22, the three of us started to work even more closely as a design team, which naturally made us bond even more.

SS22 was presented in the form of a video. Who came up with the concept and visuals, and how was the experience shooting it?

Lisa: Each collection always starts with Christina researching a certain social topic, bringing in the overall structure as well as setting the tone. After this stage, we start to bring our own ideas in. There was a discussion on how to best present the collection since we knew it would be virtually shown again this season. In the end, we decided to do a video, almost like a short film, to be able to create this whole scenery around the garments.

Christina: A box that leaves a bit of a mystery – longing for something, finding something. Almost like not knowing what you are looking for. A state of mind that reflects the social system. What is private, and what becomes public? Who are we, and what are the expectations we carry out within our society?

Tamina: We collaborated with Antonio Labuhar who directed the video and transformed all our ideas and mood boards into a concept. It was a great experience to have so many different people involved and to see the ideas being transformed into melodies and visuals. Also, for the first time, producer Philipp Köll created a song specially composed for this project. That was very exciting for all of us.

One thing that seems to be taking centre stage in the video is royal blue. What is the significance behind this colour choice?

Christina: Another contrasting motif in the collection is the sexual dimorphism of animals versus human society. While female animals often have plumage or fur in subtle colours, the males are splendidly colourful. In contrast, human femininity is traditionally linked with beauty but arguably seen as weak and lower within the realms of social hierarchy. Subtle hues combined with royal blue highlight this examination of gender-specific conventions. Blue is also a colour that symbolises fundamental transactions. David Lynch refers to that in Mulholland Drive or Blue Velvet. It is a bridge to connect reality with a dream and the private with the public.

Lisa: Exactly. An important aspect of the collection was the contrast between the social and the personal ego, which is represented in the soft white and strong blue.

Craftsmanship and being hands-on in garment production have always been core values of your brand. How did that translate into SS22?

Tamina: Being hands-on in the production really is of high importance to us. For all our pieces, we work with production companies based in the EU. Some pieces of the new collection are also made directly in our studio in Vienna. In every step of our production process, we work with people we know and trust.

Lisa: Since SS21, we’ve been working with a lovely lady here in Vienna named Monika. She has been knitting and crocheting for literal decades. She is very much up for a challenge, extremely reliable and always manages to bring our visions to life. For SS22, we wanted to bring back handmade crochet accessories and garments as key pieces of the collection. Some designs, like the bathing suit or the gloves, take hours if not days to finish. With this season, it was our intent to highlight and emphasise the value of those designs.

Christina: This is something I want to continue to do for each season. Especially by choosing certain accessories such as gloves, crochet lingerie or hat-pieces, we want to highlight the worth of craftsmanship. Thus, making people aware of its value.

“Knitwear is often associated with something crafty and unrefined that’s made by old women. Clearly, there is so much more to it. It is technical, sophisticated and infinite in its design possibilities.” – Christina Seewald

The topic of animals, especially the relationship between their fur or coat and hierarchical status, is something this collection explores. How did this particular interest find its way into the designs?

Christina: It’s incorporated in a very settled way, by knitted-placement-lace out of viscose echoing the fur prints of pedigree dogs and horses that enjoy a high social status themselves. Like Dalmatians or White Andalusians. The uni-coloured approach is meant to visualise the idea of challenging hierarchies by giving the female and male wearer identical animalistic prints and assimilating them into our dresses, shirts, vests and scarves.

Contrast is a theme you work with constantly. In SS22, we see pieces that simultaneously conceal and reveal. What is the attraction to the duality and inherent contradiction of knitwear?

Christina: The connection between technology, the body and its material is something that has always fascinated me. Hence, knitwear is often associated with something crafty and unrefined that’s made by old women. Clearly, there is so much more to it. It is technical, sophisticated and infinite in its design possibilities.

Lisa: I feel like with SS22, your skin is the final accessory for the garments, especially when it comes to the placement prints and crochet pieces. Wherever there are lace stitches, your skin shines through and interacts with the texture and hue of the knit.

Last time we spoke, Christina, you told me that your team is all women. With the latest collaboration between you three in mind, why is women working together something all of you want to highlight and actively pursue?

Christina: I actually found myself working with these two women for SS22. It happened organically. What matters to me is the connection you have with others and sharing the same interest. So, a gender-specific collaboration is nothing I actively pursued really. I am always open to new strong personalities in my team.

In the past months or seasons, as time is measured in the world of fashion, we have seen a lot of collaborations. Balenciaga and Gucci, Jean Paul Gaultier inviting a new talent for each collection, and most recently Versace and Fendi during Milan Fashion Week. No matter how big or small, why do you think collabs are such a hot topic right now?

Christina: It gives these brands the opportunity to have some fresh input from young entrepreneurs who are not from their own design world, but a different one created by themselves. It is great exposure for both parties and gives emerging designers the chance to work with facilities, materials and productions they might not be capable to fund on their own yet.

Tamina: When you collaborate with other people, you’ll get new ideas and impressions that stem from a different point of view. I could experience that myself working with Lisa and Christina. Fantastic ideas were born when all of us come together to be creative. If it’s the right mix of people, a collaboration can turn into something beautiful and innovative.

“There is always a team behind every collection. All along, I knew that I didn’t want to do it all by myself, but you got to find the right people.” – Chistina Seewald

Needless to say, there is always a great team behind every individual designer. But, is this kind of overt teamwork something we will see more of in the future of Christina Seewald as a brand?

Christina: Yes totally! There is always a team behind every collection. All along, I knew that I didn’t want to do it all by myself, but you got to find the right people. And I am sure I have. In the future, I want to continue working as a trio. It will give me the opportunity to focus more on the parts that I thoroughly enjoy. Plus, it will automatically expand our collective design horizon, since three women bring more to the table than one.

Tamina: Our collaboration has turned out so well, and we’re very proud of the result. I think it’s safe to say that we definitely plan on working as a team from now on. In my opinion, with all of our ideas and different personalities, the three of us can grow together along with the brand itself.

Lisa: The whole process was a journey, that’s for sure. Over the course of the last two seasons, I’d say, we definitely realised that we work great together as a team. There are already many new ideas for the upcoming season and the future in general.

“Challenges always strengthen a team and make the individuals in it grow even closer.” – Christina Seewald

Lastly, what has been the high and low of creating this collection together for each of you?

Lisa: It’s hard to say what my “low moment” was. Creating a collection can be extremely demanding – physically and mentally. I think that goes for all creative projects that span over a long period of time. You have small lows scattered all over the duration of the process. Sometimes things don’t work out as planned, or you’re just exhausted after long days of work. But you tend to forget about it once you see the garments in movement and how well the looks interact with one another. We’re creating this whole narrative in our minds, starting from the choice of colours and structure and finishing of the garments, to the choice of setting, atmosphere and music. You get this incredible surge of excitement and relief when you see everything come to life. And most times, it’s even better than how you envisioned it to be.

Tamina: For me, the high was getting to work with so many creative minds. Experiencing the production of a song and a video on top of the creation of every single garment first-hand has really been so exciting. Sure, there are always lows that you didn’t even expect because everything happens so fast in such a short amount of time. It can be quite chaotic, to be honest; because there are so many things you can’t possibly influence or control, especially when a bunch of people from different sectors are involved.

Christina: There’s always highs and lows in every collection, but sometimes the lows can turn into highs in the end. What I like to think is that challenges always strengthen a team and make the individuals in it grow even closer.