Interview With Student Designer Sandra Nicole Freiman
Updated: Feb 7, 2019
“Everything you do is affected by your influence and who you are and your upbringing”
A look into the life that inspired and created the Moules Free collection at the IFA Paris Fashion Show
I met with Sandra Nicole Freiman, the creator of the brand Scandienne, in “The Garage” of IFA’s Paris campus. The garage is large warehouse type work space, that I’m sure, more often than not, houses an intense creative, yet maybe stressful energy, as students work tirelessly to create beautiful fashion designs under strict deadlines. On this Monday afternoon, the vibe in the room was relaxed and relieved, as the Masters student designers were bagging up their collections, after their creations had walked the runway on the previous Friday night.
The first question I had to ask was, “ so…how does it feel?!”
It was no surprise to me that Freiman answered that honestly it was a bit strange. I can only imagine all the build up and energy that went into showing a collection for your Masters, and it all coming together in a beautiful crescendo for your peers and industry professionals. For it to finally be over and ready to be put in bags, I’d imagine is a little bittersweet.
Sandra and I spoke about what was on the horizon in her foreseeable future. She has plans to move to Luxembourg and then back to her home country of Sweden, where she will work in the development of her line. She has worked as a designer in Sweden prior to coming to Paris for her masters, so is fairly well connected with people that can support her in her journey. We spoke about Sweden, and I could tell it held a very dear place in her heart, and is very much intrinsic in who she is as a person and as a designer.
She told me about the main influence on her as a designer was seeing the clothes her parents wore when she was growing up. She described them as utilitarian, everything served a purpose, and were rarely pretty. Her ambition as a designer is to merge that practicality with a beautiful artisanal aesthetic, and that is what brought her to Paris. Watching her designs walk down the runway, I believe her vision as a designer was fulfilled. Her fashion was the perfect synthesis of the two. And was a reminder of what we intrinsically love about fashion, in the fact that it is a wearable art form that speaks to our souls. Sometimes in this day and age with the need to push the envelope, fashion gets lost in the concept and we lose the wearable part. Freiman’s Moules Free collection was a breath of fresh air, and a reminder that beautiful clothes speak for themselves.
The aesthetic for the Moules Free collection was inspired by the Swedish female modernist painter Sigrid Hjerten, a woman who later suffered and died from complications with schizophrenia. The influence was evident in Freiman’s use of color and shapes. The clothes looked like paintings on a well-crafted wearable canvas. When I asked about the importance of Hjerten’s work on her own, she spoke about the importance of a female artist, especially one that gained notoriety amongst her male counterparts, and also a woman who is Swedish born like herself. Freiman then surprised me and spoke into the world in which Hjerten lived, between two world wars. Freiman said history repeats every hundred years and how today is very much like the 1930’s. “I only hope it ends differently”.
The paintings of Swedish Modernist Painter Sigrid Hjerten that influenced Sandra Nicole Freiman's Moules Free Collection
As long as we live a world that continues to make strides for beauty, individuality, and artistic expression we will hopefully move away from a dark history and humanity’s shortcomings, that plagued the world in which Hjerten lived. Sandra Nicole Freiman and her brand Scandienne are painting the world, in the beautiful pastel colors of her story, and the fashion speaks louder than words.
See below for the full interview with the designer.
Check out her line Scandienne at scandienne.com
Q: How does it feel to be done?
A: It feels a bit weird to be done, to be honest. But I think it’s like that for everyone. It will be nice to see what happens next.
Q: So what’s next?
A: Not entirely sure. I will freelance a bit and continue to work on my brand, on the side. I have some freelancing contacts in Paris, London, and Sweden.
Q: What is the fashion industry like in Sweden?
A: Actually for me, I think it is easier to find a job in Sweden, because I have my network out there. I did my under educations in Sweden and I worked for H&M, and for two other similar brands. So I think it is easier than finding something in Paris.
Q: Where did you get your undergrad?
A: I did it in Boras, in Sweden.
Q: Was it in design?
A: It was in textiles, and it’s different. In Sweden we have the bachelors for three years. We also have vocational college. Which I think you have in America, quite similar. So it was two and a half years. That was difficult for me transferring to Paris, so I did a one-year certificate in fashion design before I started here at IFA.
Q: Was there a large learning curve, or was it difficult to transfer from textiles to design?
A: No actually. After my undergrad I worked as a fashion designer for three and a half years, so that was not really a transition. The big transition was that in Sweden it is a lot of commercial fashion, so from commercial to more artisanal craftsmanship fashion. But that is also why I wanted to study here to learn that, and be better at working with my hands.
Q: Regarding your inspiration, you were inspired by a Swedish Modernist painter?
A: For the collection, yes. So I was inspired, well it’s hard to say inspired, because I feel like everything you do is affected by your influence and who you are and your upbringing, basically. So I used the way I’ve saw my parents, when I growing up as a child, dressing in very utilitarian clothing. It had specific meaning. It’s not only pretty, it’s rarely pretty. It had to protect. It had to be functional. Everything was put for a reason. And combing that with decorative fashion, really fashion, is my main philosophy. Doing something both useful and beautiful.
Q: So why that painter?
A: It’s a good question. We started this basically a year ago and they said you have to have a theme. You have to have a concept. And we had worked on our own brands the semester before, and I knew that I wanted my brand to be all about female empowerment and female artists. If I can help female artists to get more interest, to get a bigger space, for people to see it more, then I will be very happy. So my plan is for every collection for there will be an artist involved, either a contemporary one, where we can do some kind of collaboration, or as it was now a modernist painter from almost a hundred years ago. And I just found a lot of her art is getting recognition right now, and it’s similar now. Everything that happened a hundred years ago is getting to that point again, or maybe less than a hundred years, like in the 30’s. The world is pretty similar to that point in time, like dark far right ideas moving in the world. It felt like it resonated very well with her art. I was very moved by it, when I went to see her exhibition about a year ago.
Q: As far as fashion design in your family, how do your parents feel? Are they supportive?
A: Yeah. I think in a sense I am the black sheep of the family. Of course they are not ashamed of me, but when I started out I was the only one not working for family business.
Q: What is the family business?
A: They have three farms, but they also have a company that imports silos from an American brand, so they are main importers for the brand in the Nordics. So that is what they have been doing for the last 15 years, also, besides their farms. And so studying fashion when I was 15 years old, it was like , “are you really sure? You need something so you can get into a university.” So I listened to that, and did not get into it that early. But all my life it has been dragging me and I have been kind of getting into it from some type of back roads way. But once they saw I could get a job and support myself, they were fine with it. And now they are super proud of me. They couldn’t come for the show, but they gathered around, the whole family, like “Stop. Stop. Stop. Now it starts,” through the Instagram Live.
Q: You had mentioned when you were growing up, you saw your parents dressing in a utilitarian way, now correct me if I’m wrong, but Sweden is Socialist?
A: It is Socialist, but it is a very liberal socialism. I know for American standards it might seem very left, but it’s not. I saw a news episode recently, we are actually a tax paradise. It’s one of the best countries to live in if you are rich. In the last ten years they have taken away all the taxes for the very very very rich ones. It’s a very liberal country. It’s one of the best countries to live in actually. It’s very very good in general. It’s always in the top five of the happiest people in the world.
Q: Do you think that influences the fashion?
A: Absolutely it does. And also it is very small country. Not in geography. It is a very long and big country, but in terms of people it influences a lot. Normal people, they dress well, but they don’t want to stick out. So it is a lot of black and white, very minimalist.
Q: How would you describe your personal aesthetic?
A: I think it changed when I moved to Paris. Before I was not as colorful. Ok, I’m wearing black and brown and gray right now (she laughs), but in my design I tend to use pastels a lot and more monochrome after Paris and after our semester in Italy, and also the artist, she used color very specifically. I think it stayed with me.
Q: How were you inspired by your time in Italy?
A: Florence…I have heard before that Florence is wonderful city. You are going to love it and I was like ‘ok, we’ll see.’ But it’s so condensed with culture, with visual impact. It’s pretty small but everywhere you look. It has been the cultural center of Europe for such a long time, so it has brought artists from all over.. I don’t know, it’s just everywhere you look you would see something super interesting and it would have this history behind it that was super interesting. We were in the big palazzo from the 14th Century and you could still see where people left little messages on the wall and things like that. It’s hard to leave a city like that without getting some type of inspiration. I mean it’s the city where the opera was founded.
Q: If you had the chance to do it again, is there anything you would do differently?
A: I would probably not work at the same time. Half time. And it was a lot. I worked for Another Stories, in the atelier. It’s a small brand, part of the H&M Company. And I worked half time all year, except when we were in Italy, and I probably wouldn’t do that again. Although, it was a great experience, and also helped with the collection, and getting fabric so that was fine.
Q: Is there anything else you would like the public to know about your work?
A: I think it’s important that they know about the artist.
Sandra Nicole Freiman of Scandienne's Moules Free collection was a beautiful work of art made by a beautiful soul.