If unconventional chic is your thing, then you must have heard of Fannie Schiavoni. Frankly even if, like me, you’re all about pink, sparkles and Peter Pan collars Fannie’s is still a name worth knowing. Since graduating from London College of Fashion just three years ago, the Swedish designer’s unique jewellery creations (think chain mail, harnesses and steel crop tops) have featured everywhere from i-D Magazine to Vogue Italia and earned her the coveted New Gen award for three consecutive seasons. With stockists everywhere from London to Los Angeles and high profile fans including Lady Gaga, I’d say the future looks pretty bright for Fannie Schiavoni.
I caught up with Fannie just before London Fashion Week to get the lowdown on her career so far and plans for the future…
LPA: When and why did you decide to become a jewellery designer? Had it always been your passion or did something specific make you realise that was what you wanted to do for a career?
FS: Until the age of 18 I didn’t wear any jewellery and even then I only wore a simple heart pendant around my neck; I think that my unique approach to jewellery is what sets me apart from other designers. Studying tailoring and then womenswear fashion I explored and learnt to use jewellery to adorn the whole body rather than how jewellery is ordinarily used. I personally feel more comfortable wearing a harness as opposed to a necklace or earrings; so it felt very natural to me and when I found my niche I knew that it was what I wanted to do.
LPA: Aside from the obvious, how greatly do you feel the design process for a jewellery collection differs to that for, say, a ready-to-wear collection?
FS: We all have our own processes, but in general I don’t think my design process differs at all from a RTW designer. However I do have a much more hands on approach to my design process; I like making while designing, this allows me to explore that works with the material and I personally make the items, rather than sketching the designs and having them made by someone else.
LPA: Talk me through a typical working day… What goes on behind-the-scenes at the Fannie Schiavoni studio?
FS: Almost every day is different, which I love. One day we are organising the archive stock-take and the other we’re working on a celebrity or editorial commission. Currently I am working on my e-commerce site which is a really exciting avenue for me and is a new addition to my working day.
LPA: You released your first collection while still studying at London College of Fashion, that’s quite an achievement. Why did you decide to do this and how did you manage to balance both? You then landed one of the most coveted stockists in London, Browns Focus, straight after graduating. How did you manage it? From my experience buyers are virtually impossible to pin down!
FS: I’ll try to do the short story. Simply put I didn’t get into the “super important” press show which is held at the end of the 3rd and final year (and only 10% of students actually get to do) which, after working really hard for 3 years, was extremely disappointing and upsetting for me. A while after I got the bad news I decided to create my own luck and managed to get a buying appointment with Browns…. Totally oblivious to how “big” the opportunity was. I think it was much less about what I said (as I was clueless to how the industry worked) and more about the fact they hadn’t seen anything quite like my accessories before; back in 2009 body jewellery was still something very new and fresh.
LPA: High profile fans of your work include Katy Perry, Rhianna and Lady Gaga. Is there anyone else you’d particularly love to see wearing your designs?
FS: I’m useless when it comes to naming celebrities… I just saw and heard Grimes for the first time this morning. I kind of liked her contradicting style, as you can’t really brand it as being just punk or just grunge etc. Since meeting Alicia Keys, I’m a huge fan of her as well, and who can deny Beyoncé!? The girl can sing and dance and even makes grinding look dignified.
LPA; What’s your ultimate aim for the Fannie Schiavoni brand?
FS: I’m very happy with where I am at the moment, but of course we all want to do better. I’m not sure the conventional road to designer/celebrity fame approach is right for me, but it would be nice to have my own store some day and also being able to work from somewhere a lot sunnier than London!
LPA: With numerous prestigious stockists already, what made you decide to launch your own e-commerce site? Do you feel it offers something different to other online stores?
FS: I try to design pieces that are season less and I also don’t agree with the fast fashion of today (do we really need 4 collections a year?) so my idea with this site was to make my archive pieces available to everyone. Ive made a selection available of my bestsellers troughtout the years. I will also offer a bespoke order section where everyone can make use of a bespoke order service, which I normally only offer to celebrities. This is something I will build on in the future, but for now I will encourage customers to contact me with their own requirements and wishes.
Love Ella. X