UK based fashion designer Ania Szczygiel is not the kind of woman easily thrown off course. Ten years ago she asked her mother to teach her how to use a sewing machine and she hasn’t looked back since. Her first collection she describes as ‘really basic’. (I reserve the right to remain sceptical). But basic or not it clearly left clues of emerging talent as it won her a competition (Polish Talent Awards) in 2017. The next win was a scholarship to study fashion design in Poland.
Ambivalent at first, the self-proclaimed full-time mum only decided at the last minute to accept the scholarship. But that triumph only led to more challenges – like flying to Poland every second weekend to attend class. Then in her first year of study her husband had to undergo a major operation for a kidney transplant. In the end it was her husband who believed in her enough to encourage and convince her to keep going with her fashion course (which she has recently completed). And thankfully her husband has since made a full recovery.
The day has been hectic so far for designer Ania Szczygiel at Fashion Show Live and it’s a warm late September afternoon with a comfortable breeze by the time I manage to steal her away for some one-to-one time. We are high up by the railings in the Duchy Stand, overlooking London’s Oval cricket ground.
So first things first – how does she feel her show went – did it go as hoped? “ Oh yes. Definitely. 100% ”, she says smiling with relief. “A little stressful backstage but I’m really happy.”
And so she should be. After all she nearly didn’t make it to the show! On the way down from Cambridgeshire her car broke down. But true to form that’s hardly the sort of thing that this formidable steely nerved Polish native would allow to derail her day. Sure, there was a frantic text to the show organisers to let them know she was running late for her fittings. But she was still able to give a great showing of her latest collection: ‘COSMIC’.
Aptly named, it’s a strong and arresting collection marked by exaggerated, layered silhouettes and metallics – all with a distinctly futuristic tone.
So for the lady who can’t stop winning are there any designers who inspire her or is she her own muse? “Actually yes, my own muse” she admits, before remembering “actually I like Victoria Beckham. McQueen as well. He was very creative – amazing.”
The awards have kept coming, most recently the 2021 Cracow Fashion Awards. This most recent win came as a surprise. Having seen the strong offerings of her fellow nominees from as far and wide as Hong Kong and New York she had never expected to win.
So, what are her hopes for the future – besides probably winning some more awards? “The next collection. The next fashion show. My new brand.”
Judging by tonight’s very well received collection it doesn’t look like Ania’s winning streak is about to end anytime soon!