At Bacich Elementary School, circa 2008, one would find kindergartener Annika Geissberger working intently on her latest felt project, stitched together in Sewing Sally’s class she attended everyday after school. She cherished the time spent making small stuffed animals and other hand-sewn objects, constantly looking forward to creating them. Her youthful creations soon turned into delicate skirts and little purses. The necessity of machine sewing arose in order to create more advanced articles of clothing, which ultimately lead her to cultivate her love for fashion.
Now a sophomore, Annika’s interest in creating clothing has not yet subsided. Rather, it has grown and developed into a full-fledged fervor that she wishes to pursue later in her life. She currently expresses her enthusiasm by designing and making her own clothing in her studio, which used to be an office in her house.
Her workspace has multiple moodboards to stir her creative spirit, which are covered in an assortment of Vogue magazine cutouts and pictures of shoes, bags and other clothing articles she finds appealing. She also takes inspiration from high-end brands such as Chanel and Gucci, which both fall on opposing ends of the spectrum of fashion design.
“I really like Chanel. I use a lot of the same fabric, styles and colors. They’re really classy and have stuck with their roots,” Annika said. “Also Gucci, they’re the exact opposite, pushing their boundaries constantly. They’re always changing and following trends, so I think that’s really cool.”
Christine Geissberger, Annika’s mom, traces back Annika’s interest in clothing design to different aspects of her upbringing that shaped her creative personality.
“We were always doing some type of art project. She got a hold of a fashion drawing book when she was around six and she started drawing the outline of people and dresses. She always loved putting together outfits,” Christine said. She believes that Annika’s inherently creative nature is what drives her interest in fashion.
Annika’s first commission was a black jacket made of quilted vinyl on the torso, and sheer black fabric sporting two white stripes on the arms—a sophisticated yet trendy look. She has typically stuck with streetwear, ranging from cropped-shirt and skirt two-pieces to furry sleeved jackets. As of early March, she has been creating a scarlet strapless evening-wear gown inspired by the most recent Oscars award ceremony.
In order to allow Annika’s ideas, such as the red dress, to come to life off her sketchbook pages, she follows a self-developed process.
“I start out by drawing the design I want to make. That is probably the most difficult thing because I have to find out what length, cut and generally what I want to make. Then I will make a pattern out of a regular white muslin, I’ll cut it out, and trace it onto the fabric,” Annika said. “Depending on what I make, it’ll probably take me a few days to make it. For the project I’m working on right now, it’ll take me longer.”
To display her work, Annika has an Instagram page, @Annikag.designs, where she posts pictures of her clothing modeled by her friends. One of her friends, Camille Goodhart, has modeled for Annika in the past and sees traits in Annika that exhibit her love for fashion and design.
“She’s very creative and determined to create new things. She’s always keeping up with styles and pairing together interesting pieces of clothing,” Goodhart said. “I’ve gone shopping with her and we always look at ‘out there’ type of clothes that she’s really into. She’s not afraid to wear something crazy that no one else would wear and totally pull it off.”
Annika does not only express her fervor for fashion and clothing in her studio. At the beginning of this semester, Annika collaborated with one of her good friends, Evelyn Bailey, to create the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) Fashion Club at Redwood.
Their meetings consist of a group of students who gather to discuss the latest fashion trends, put together mood boards, sketch clothing ideas, and even have occasional guest speakers attend. The club receives materials from FIDM itself to provide for the assorted activities. They meet in room 280 on Tuesdays at lunch.
Annika is planning on partaking in a program at FIDM this summer in Los Angeles, where she will be able to expand her knowledge about the fashion industry. This is but one of the strides she has been taking in order to further her understanding of design.
Annika’s journey is only beginning– creating her own known brand and line of clothing is her ultimate goal, one that will take hours of dedication and enthusiastic vigor. However, she’s willing to do whatever it takes to achieve her dream.
“When I look good, it makes me feel confident, and I need to feel confident to excel,” Annika said. “My overall goal is to be a well-known designer and create things that make people feel the same thing as me through fashion, because for me, it’s more than what you’re just putting on your body, it’s about how you feel.”