While the “big four” Fashion Weeks (Paris, Milan, New York, London) continue their monopoly of the international fashion scene, Berlin and Copenhagen are battling to claim the desirable 5th place. In the first week of August, under a heat wave, Denmark’s capital presented commercial heavyweights such as By Malene Birger and Bruuns Bazaar, the regular avantgardism of Henrik Vibskov, and a new wave of ambitious young talents.
Here’s our selection from our favourite shows at CPHFW, where it’s become apparent that the everyday, super-wearable democratic Scandi-chic can be both its forte and curse.
The Danish menswear designer returned to his native Copenhagen after completing his MA at London College of Fashion in 2009, and his oeuvre clearly and excitingly reflects the internal clash of two very different menswear aesthetics. He is a skilful tailor with a soft spot for sportswear details, visible in his SS16 collection ‘Ecstatic Lust’, which took a slightly more mature approach to his distinctively euphoric designs. PVC raincoats with embossed alligator textures and sexy denim tops took stars, but unfortunately he stumbled slightly with his strong emphasis on rather dated tropical graphics.
Shows of another London graduate, but this time the one of Central Saint Martins – Henrik Vibskov –, are always highly anticipated, as the designer is known for his extravagant and immersive art installation/concert/catwalk shows. He occupied the City Hall with abstracted tent structures, presenting a collection that took its inspiration from the bizarre fauna of the desert: a multitude of hypnotic and maze-like prints were applied to his signature highwaisted pants and knits for both men and women. It was a safe collection, an exercise in Danish simplicity for which Scandinavia is known and praised for; but as it shows, this form of ultra-democratic fashion is also the curse that prevents it from achieving a level that is ground-breaking, avant-garde, and internationally acclaimed.
Freya Dalsjø stole the show this season with a fresh take on post-millennial femininity, as she presented a pink-tinted collection that was as glamorous as it was conceptually critical. The Antwerp-educated designer caught international attention with her youthful reinvigoration of fur (which is a huge industry in Denmark, with giants Kopenhagen Fur and Saga Furs sponsoring much of the young design talent pool), but this season, her chunky eveningwear was replaced by a light-hearted glamour, a proper babe-show, with queer kid/Victoria’s Secret model Josephine Skriver opening the show. From 1970s hoop belts to Carrie Bradshaw-sequined underwear, tropes of femininity were examined and critiqued – celebratory of girlhood in all its mediations through incredibly well crafted and contemporary garments. Dalsjø is the evidence of Copenhagen’s potential as an incubator for the industry’s new avant-garde.
Text by Jeppe Ugelvig