Worn by the likes of Hunter Schafer and Grimes, Alix Higgins eponymous brand is a joyous yet tender ode to what it means to be human in today’s day and age
- Who is it? The eponymous label of Australian designer Alix Higgins
- Why do I want it? Bold, conceptual prints that beautifully merge our human and digital realities
- Where can I find it? Alix Higgins is available through the designer’s own website as well as at Café Forgot, Distal Phalanx, Error404 and Blonde
Who is it? As a teenager growing up in small-town Australia, designer Alix Higgins fell in love with the infinite potential of the world wide web. “I was just obsessed with the mythology of the internet and the depth of it,” he reminisces, “As a queer person in remote Australia, to share this interior digital world with others was quite special.” It was through the patchworked visuals of Tumblr that Higgins, who initially dreamed of becoming an actor, discovered fashion, “this amazing world that was so far from my small town outside of Sydney.” Unlike acting, in which you give yourself up to a character, fashion “felt like this drama of the everyday.” It was fantastical without losing touch with reality; performative while maintaining the self. “So that was the appeal at the beginning,” he muses. “And that’s why I’m still here. The magic still hasn’t gone away.”
Higgins’ conception of fashion continues to be heavily anchored in image. But his undergraduate studies in Fashion and Textile Design at the University of Technology, Sydney, followed by his MA at the Institut Français de la Mode in Paris, helped grow his visual obsession beyond imagery and into a distinct sensitivity for textile and print. After honing his craft as a textile designer/consultant at Marine Serre and Coperni among other brands, Higgins returned to Sydney to launch his own label – and pointedly made image, from presentation to print, the beating heart. “When I start a new collection, I don’t only think about the new shapes of the season, but also about what are the new prints and fabrics and embellishments,” he says. “Plus, I just really love colour.”
At a time when digital technology, like artificial intelligence and virtual metaverses, is increasingly pitted as the nemesis to our emotional human selves, the confidence of Higgins’ bold prints and razor-edged tailoring are a much-needed reassurance that we are still in control. For his debut collection, A Gift from the Fall, models (his friends) clad in his iconic prints comprised of ink-cartridge-esque gradients, unashamedly digitalised polka dots, and blotted florals, walked barefoot through a sparse, concrete desert. It was an odyssey of sorts, a reminder that for all our screen-hazed days, we will still arrive here in our present, multi-dimensional, human bodies – and that’s a beautiful place to be.
Why do I want it? From the form-fitting second-skin bodycon tops to the asymmetric, razor-edged draping of his skirts and dresses, Higgins’ garments are a joyous yet tender ode to what it means to be human in today’s day and age. The artificial-hued gradient prints, punctuated by ambiguous, gently blurred text, are sartorial screens that look inward to our complex inner landscapes but also turn outwards: the ease of both the form-fitting and draped silhouettes allow the wearer to live their life through them, completing the poetry of the open-ended text with their own lived experience. Fashion can often capitalise on our insecurities – clothes promise to enhance, to fulfil, to protect, to include – but Higgins’ designs meet us as humans where we are, perfect in all our differences.
In fact, long before his fashion practice, Higgins had been documenting his own reckoning with what it means to be alive: keeping note of experiences, influences, and observations that eventually developed into long poems. “Now I think about polishing the poems, constructing them, and giving them time in the collection,” he says, “the marriage of shapes, colour, print, and text is the most interesting thing for me.” Aside from playing with larger, and loaded, identifying labels such as ‘baby’ and ‘fairy’, the designer hides snippets of his poetry in inconspicuous places. “It’s a secret little thing from me to the wearer, as people can’t see them when they take a photograph for Instagram,” he explains of these gentle encouragements for the wearer to take the time to get to know the garment intimately.
Until his first collection, Higgins grew his label piece-by-piece via his own website. But even now, as he prepares for his upcoming show in May this year, the designer is still incredibly concerned with creating a through line of approachable yet elevated pieces that stay relevant from season-to-season. “That’s what I really try and imbue my brand with: a sense of belonging and immortality, that this is forever,” he says. “I just want people to take the garments into their lives – it doesn’t stop with one season and start with the next.”