Sigga Maija

On Saturday, designer Sigga Maija presented her first-ever eponymous collection at the Reykjavik Fashion Festival. Working in her studio the day before her debut, Maija and her design partner Anna Bóa seemed surprisingly calm. “Of course we’re nervous,” explained Maija. “But we’ve been having so much fun and we’ve both been working for other people at RFF for a long time, so this process is not really new.”

Now 29 and 30, Maija and Bóa have been friends since high school. Both women received their undergraduate degrees at the Icelandic University of Arts. Maija studied only fashion; Bóa studied both fashion and drawing, a skill that became integral to their first collection. An extremely personal effort, Sigga Maija’s Fall/Winter collection features silk dresses and blouses printed with nude female figures hand-sketched by Boa, and tops constructed from old knitting materials Maija inherited from her mother. The print on a short-sleeved blue blouse is of a drawing by Maija’s father. The strongest pieces in the Sigga Maija collection, however, are outerwear: specifically two locally-sourced, shearling-lined leather pieces, a navy jacket with a silver belt, and a black coat.

DESIGNERS: Sigga Maija and Anna Bóa.

AGE(s): 29 (Maija); 30 (Bóa)

HOMETOWN(s): Maija: Neither of us are from Reykjavik. We’re from the countryside.

Bóa: It’s fantastic to be a kid there, because you have all the space, running wild.

Maija: You have these memories of staying really late playing outside in the summer because the sun doesn’t go down, so the parents are not realizing how late it is.

Bóa: There is more snow in the countryside, so you can build these crazy snow houses.

Maija: I’m very thankful to have that—

Bóa: Background.

A GRADE-SCHOOL FASHIONISTA: Maija: I decided I wanted to be a designer when I was 19, but I’ve been making clothes since I was very young. The path was always there. I went to tailor school and found I had some talent, and then I think it was just a natural movement from there. It’s maybe clichéd, but I think I was just born with this wanting to make clothes. I remember when I understood for the first time that clothing could be a way of expressing. I started to style myself at nine years old; I was kind of shy. I think that was the first step for me.

FROM BFFs TO BUSINESS PARTNERS: Bóa: Sigga kind of pushed me into [starting the label with her]. [laughs]

Maija: We’d been talking about it, and brainstorming about it for a long time.

Bóa: And fantasizing about doing it together.

MAIJA: But I took the first step, and then I convinced her, thankfully.

Bóa: We’ve been friends for a long, long time—since 2000. We were in the same school.

Maija: High school, maybe. Anna was always making crazy outfits and we bonded over that.

Bóa: Yeah, like my first memory of us is looking at really old robes and stuff and being like, “Oh my god.” But, at that time—

Maija: We didn’t know that we were going to be designers.

Bóa: When we applied for school, which was the same year, we didn’t have the talk, like, “Oh, you want to do this?”

SPECIALTIES: Maija: Textile is my side of passion in designing.

Bóa: I draw.

Maija: She’s a great drawer.

Bóa: I like shapes; I think I’m more into that area. We go really well together.

Maija: Anna’s a bit more street than me and I’m more the other way. It’s a very good mix.

Bóa: Do we ever disagree? Not often, but we sometimes have to sell each other the idea of something.

Maija: We don’t fight, but

Bóa: We just convince the other one that this idea is fantastic.

Maija: Then it goes from there. We haven’t had any problems. Not yet.

BEHIND THE FIRST COLLECTION: Maija: We were looking at surrealism.

Anna Bóa: In the 1920s—Paris.

Maija: When it was emerging. Not some specific surrealist, it was more the atmosphere of Paris at that time. We started there and then it just developed.

Bóa: We wanted to have a modern silhouette, but still with weird things, funny things.

Maija: Strange things.

Bóa: But still wearable.

Maija: We were working a lot with the female body, not only in the clothes and the silhouettes, but also in the prints. It’s a bit androgynous.

Bóa: There is also an oriental feel to it.

Maija: We tried to collaborate with a lot of different kinds of professionals—a leather studio, a jeweler. I think it’s very important for us as designers to try to find these people in Iceland that can actually make something, because we don’t have that much here. We don’t have any manufacturers. You have to be very

Bóa: Resourceful. A lot happens from when you do the first sketches and you start working with material and patterns. It always evolves and you get new ideas. That’s what I’ve enjoyed the most, to work with someone and not by yourself because more happens.

FINDING THE FABRICS: Maija: My mother used to be a knitter; she had a small workshop. I was very lucky, I inherited a lot of fabrics from her and I’ve been actually using some of them—Italian wool, which is really nice. Then there was some yarn that I got here in Iceland, actually, which was kind of amazing to find some nice fabrics there. I have a woman that knits for me. There’s not a company that can do it, it’s just a woman that has her own knitting machines, and we worked really closely together to develop the knit.

Bóa: Then it was probably the fabrics for the print. We made it from my drawings and Sigga’s coloring. The print is this old sketch—self-portraits from my drawing class, when I took a break from fashion.

FAVORITE PIECE: Maija: We have many pieces that we are excited about. But there’s  one really proud one, a jacket with the print. Everything comes together in this one—it combines almost everything. I think it’s one of our favorites.