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Alix Higgins embraces anger, chaos and community to create fantastical, futuristic fashion

Alix Higgins embraces anger, chaos and community to create fantastical, futuristic fashion

 


Anger isn't an emotion often associated with fashion, but Australian designer Alix Higgins took inspiration from it for God I Forgive You, her provocatively titled resort 2025 collection presented at Australian Fashion Week (AFW).

“I hope that one day I will be completely at peace and not have any chaotic emotions to look back on,” the 30-year-old says. “But my work is so tied to my emotional state.”

The exploration of anger began by tearing up T-shirts given to her by her ex-boyfriend, then reconstructing and draping the fabric into new shapes. This creative and emotional upcycling formed a January pre-collection, Archery Practice.

Composite of three female models at Higgins' show.

Bold and daring, Alix Higgins' clothing is designed for the adventurous and fashion-forward.(Stefan Gosatti/Getty Images for AFW)

He continues to thrive in a whirlwind of frustration, whether petty complaints, discouragement from the news cycle, or boredom with what Higgins describes as cultural “stupidity.” a flattening of ideas and aesthetics according to the whims of Instagram.

He concludes his speech on house prices in Australia.

“Life is unfair. My response is to scribble, write terrible poems, print them on clothes and put on a show,” he says.

The anger and frustration aren't immediately apparent from the midweek show, his namesake label's third consecutive show at AFW, and one of the few to be covered by Vogue Runway, but they are present in sneaky forms : a digital scribble on a red velvet dress, the effect like paint projected onto his own creations; Upcycled t-shirts with shaved shoulders.

A male model wears a pink and brown polo shirt cut at the sides, with a matching pink long-sleeve knit shirt underneath.

Higgins says he wants to “appropriate archetypal male culture.”(Jason McCawley/Getty Images for AFW)

There are provocations in the shape, via asymmetrical cuts, polo shirts pulled up into skirts or cut on the side, dresses with a side drag, exposing the legs. And there are more immediate provocations, in Higgins' use of text, with words and phrases like dog whistle, pretentiousness, wipe me out and crush printed on otherwise conventional blazers, polo shirts and skirts in a manic collage.

Composite shot of three male models on white background wearing Alix Higgins designs, from pants to knitted skirts and tops.

For her shows, Higgins recruits a mix of professional models, clients and friends.(Provided)

The designer describes it as a “secret language” taken from his own journals and poems, ready to be interpreted by the wearer.

“With writing, I’m always trying to see how far I can get away with it,” he explains.

Lines about “dancing on graves” once led colleagues to ask Higgins if he was okay; an editorial shoot once photoshopped the word “god,” printed in lowercase letters, onto the front of a floral dress.

While it's not for everyone, Higgins has carved out a distinct following since launching her brand in 2021: those looking to wear emotion on their sleeves, thighs, chest, or back.

A model wears a red dress with colorful squiggles and words printed all over it.

Alix Higgins' 2025 resort collection “God I Forgive You” was presented at Australian Fashion Week.(Stefan Gosatti/Getty Images for AFW.)

Internet darling

Worn by Grimes, Troye Sivan, Euphoria actor/it girl Hunter Schafer, and most recently seen in the second season of Heartbreak High, the name Alix Higgins is currently shorthand for edgy cool. In October he was announced as the 2023 Australian Fashion Emerging Designer of the Year, voted for by his industry peers.

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Growing up in Otford, a small town an hour south of Sydney, Higgins fell into online fashion, largely through the blog site Tumblr.

“I felt like I didn't understand art, because I wasn't taught it. But fashion was about performance, identity and gender, which interested me time,” he said.

“The first blogs I followed were those of sad girls, so fashion for me has always been about emotion and identity.

“My introduction was a selfie taken by a trans person in New York, then a photo from Vogue Italia 1994 that was in the same mood. I realized that I could speak this language that was immediately understandable to me.”

A man in pants and a blue t-shirt with a bell-sleeved shirt beneath the waves, running down an alley to people cheering.

Before Tumblr, Alix Higgins (pictured) says her first exposure to the culture was to video games involving fantasy and destiny themes and motifs explored in her designs.(Stefan Gosatti/Getty Images for AFW)

Higgins studied fashion and textile design at the University of Technology Sydney, then completed a master's degree in fashion design at the Institut Français de la Mode in Paris. He then interned and worked as a print designer at French brand Marine Serre.

Upon returning to Australia in 2019, Higgins struggled to break through, initially creating for his friends and friends of friends and much of other queer creatives in Sydney.

A woman wearing Higgins' pink gradient nylon top falls into a wheat field at sunrise.

I consider my work quite romantic and poetic, introspective, like armor, Higgins told the Guardian in 2022.(Provided: Dan Harden/Alix Higgins)

Her first pieces were body-hugging nylon long-sleeves, dresses and bike shorts with text like “baby, I'm so scared” or “Hollywood” on brightly colored barcode prints.

“It started with these super colorful, super intense prints with all this text on them because no one was paying attention to me,” Higgins says.

“No one was listening to me. There are so many fashion brands, and you really have to fight to cut through the noise of the Internet. It wasn't this evil plan that I had, but subconsciously I was doing a job so loud because I knew it had to be done.”

As Australian dance floors fully reopened in 2022, these tight prints have become a staple of queer parties, adopted as a staple for their eye-catching, dramatic and poetic nature, with lyrics evoking fantasy worlds and a sense of nostalgia .

“When people buy stuff, they often say, 'I feel really understood and seen, I feel really like myself,' and really sexy, even in the not-so-revealing pieces,” Higgins says.

“And there was always feedback that there was this inherent weirdness as well.”

A man wears a silk scarf with lots of text as a shirt.  He is holding a sword.

Earlier designs, like this shirt with silk scarf, included entire paragraphs of text.(Provided: Dan Harden/Alix Higgins)

Make it work

It has become increasingly difficult for independent designers to survive in the Australian fashion industry, according to the Guardian. report last year that only 3 percent of clothes bought in Australia are made here.

Without an inheritance or rare institutional grant, Higgins has had to make do, including bluffing his way into his first solo show at Australian Fashion Week in 2022.

Sources

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2/ https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-05-19/alix-higgins-on-his-fantastical-futuristic-fashion/103860464

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