Alumni interview, fashion: Antonia Pihl

Beckmans alumni, application and fashion

She dresses artists such as Molly Sandén, Tove Styrke and Miriam Bryant and has been named by Vogue as one of 100 people in the world who move the boundaries of fashion. 

Antonia Pihl graduated from the fashion program at Beckmans in 2018. Here she talks about how she became the Swedish artist elite's favorite designer, what she brings with her from Beckmans and tips for those who dream of a career in the fashion industry.

1. You started working on dressing artists already during your time at Beckmans, how did you get into it? 

Stylist Robert Rydberg borrowed a lot of clothes from all of us in the class for a screening at the Elle Gala, where singer Steele performed in the middle of the catwalk that he chose would have just parts of my "material collection" on them – which meant that my garments got a little extra attention in the otherwise huge show.  Then I got a call from his assistant telling me they were styling Little Jinder for her spring tour. He had then come to think of and asked for "that girl at Beckmans who did some sporty stuff", and we started a collaboration when I designed and sewed a collection for the artist to have throughout the tour. 

Artist Sweden is very small and after the first stage clothes the ball was rolling. I've always worked hard – but never specifically to reach out to artists. I've probably only had a bit of luck with the timing as the design I like to make, which itself is mainly based on my interests in extreme sports, has been "right in time" when it comes to clothes artists want on stage. They're edgy, but not crazy. Comfortable and almost always oversized – which creates a freedom of movement but also that the artist in question always says that they feel "powerful" on stage. And they're gender neutral – so depending on the styling, they can be super-masculine, sexy, 100% sporty, feminine or get whatever expression you want. 

2. Are you working on more projects besides designing for artists?

I have a job now as a head designer at an internet-based brand which takes up the majority of my time but there are always a million things going on anyway, it feels like. In addition to that and the design for artists (who funnily are still very active), I run a small side business where I sell simpler shirts with either my PIHL logo or a very limited edition printed T-shirts, which I had produced in Bali when I lived there the year after graduation. There I also made a collaboration collection for a Spanish brand based on the island. So little such half-sized projects come at regular intervals. For example, I have just taken down a pop-up showroom I had at The Forumist in mood-gallerian with which I will continue to work with, but the collaboration will shortly take another product design...

3. Six months after graduating from Beckmans, Vogue listed you as one of 100 people pushing the boundaries of the fashion industry. How has it affected you and your career?

To be honest... hardly at all! Or not when it comes to my career so far anyway, other than that it obviously looks nice on the CV, whenever I will have to use it. Most of all, it was a boost for the ego and a liberating confirmation that all the hard work pays off and it's always fun to get noticed – especially when it comes to something you've been toiling for day and night for so long. But then I am a person who finds it very difficult to absorb this kind of event; I have to experience it somehow in order for it to feel real.

4. What do you bring with you from Beckmans that has been important to your career?  

Oh, everything! So I would never be where I am today if it weren't for Beckmans – or perhaps above all what I chose to do with my time there, how I really took advantage of those three years and gave everything.  But the most important thing I have taken with me from Beckmans has more to do with me as a person – it has given an incredible confidence and there is such pride in knowing that no matter what my aesthetic looks like, how right in time it is or not, no one will ever be able to take away the number of hours I spent at school, my level of ambition and the endless drive. After completing the training and above all the degree project, it feels like anything is possible – that I could do anything in the world, if I want it enough.

5. Do you have any tips for someone who dreams of working as a fashion designer?

Yes. As cliché it sounds: do what you think is fun and believe in yourself, to which you have a personal connection – not what you think the industry wants to see or what others do. Anxiety is visible through, but so does self-confidence and self-distance. It is also a harsh world where in order to succeed you will probably have to fight and toil significantly more than in many other professions and also get significantly less paid; If you don't do something you're really passionate about, there's no point in entering the industry, to be crass. 

I don't want to stick under the chair with a lot of stress, blood, sweat and tears – but every now and then you also have to pinch your arm to remind yourself of the fact that the job you still sometimes really, really love and enjoy is real. There are certainly a million ways to do it, but for me my profession is more of a way of life than just a job, and as soon as I realized and accepted that it's a whole lifestyle, it no longer felt as hard that I don't live by "normal" frameworks with working days called Monday to Friday or with set times that are nine to five – but it's more or more. less 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Creativity is part of one's personality and it sometimes chooses to come forward in the most inappropriate situations, and that's just the way it is. 

Over time after Beckmans, I have learned to get some distance from, and really appreciate the situation: I get paid to engage in what has been one of my greatest interests since I was five years old, I have made sure that I have the freedom to basically work from anywhere in the world and I have a profession where I feel that I am constantly evolving.

Apply to the Fashion Program at Beckmans today! 


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