Vanessa Schindler is a fashion designer, but she’s also a fashion sculptor. Instead of sewing pieces of fabric, the Swiss-born artist melds or glues her creations together using liquid urethane. She applies it with tools that are similar to what you use to ice a cake.
“It has to be applied quickly, as it begins to harden, and you only get one chance to make it right,” she explains. “You have to be efficient—you don’t have time to think. And you have to be spontaneous. Sometimes it’s stressful, but in the end I’m able to create textile shapes that are three-dimensional and sculptural.”
Schindler developed this innovative technique while completing her master’s at the Geneva University of Art and Design. Last year, she won the Première Vision Grand Prize from the Hyères International Festival of Fashion and Photography. In addition to a 15,000-euro cash prize, she was also given a chance to work with Chanel’s Métiers d’Art to create another collection for this year’s festival.
At first, she wasn’t sure how her free-form style could be paired with the time-consuming and exacting artisanal techniques used at the Métiers. “I wanted to keep this idea of freedom and spontaneity, so I let the artisans at the Lesage [atelier] create their own lines,” she says. “They typically work on fabric that will be used to make an outfit, but I was giving them the final piece and letting them decide how and what they wanted to embroider on it.” The process with the goldsmiths at Goossens was the opposite. They created the chain-link earrings and bags, and then Schindler encased them in urethane.
The result was an intriguing, ethereal collection that melded the traditional handcrafted artistries with Schindler’s experimental technique.