Fashion enthusiasts who confine themselves to the tried-and-tested trail of London, Milan, Paris and New York are missing a very innovative and very visionary trick.
Scandinavia’s evolving fashion sense has been one of the biggest influences on international style arenas in the past decade, with Copenhagen and Stockholm, among other cities, leading the way. This energy was never more evident than in Copenhagen Fashion Week’s autumn/winter offering, which balanced daring, bold design with a classic, refined sense of luxury.
Jewel in the crown
It’s perhaps fitting that the Copenhagen Fashion Week show schedule kicked off with JewlsCPH’s jewellery – the ‘ice’ comparisons couldn’t have been more appropriate, as the city was freezing and rain-lashed. No matter – once inside the beautiful hall at the Nikolaj contemporary art centre, things heated up.
Mai Manniche, the designer behind the jewellery label, created a lesson in bohemian glamour for autumn/winter. Her particular knack is to take the pomp out of fine jewellery and make it easy as well as luxurious. To that end, her models (in cocktail gowns, to set an after-dark agenda) wore gold necklaces and earrings with turquoise stones, droplet pendants in coppery tones and large earrings in precious metals that looked as though they had been deliberately bashed to create a love-worn effect.
The sumptuous Nimb hotel was the setting for Edith & Ella’s show. Against a ballroom resplendent with twinkling crystal chandeliers and flickering candles, designer Line Markvardsen sent out a feminine, girlish collection that referenced the swinging 60s with A-line dresses, pie-crust collars and mini-skirts with chunky boots.
The designer used a rich autumnal palette of plum, mustard and burnt orange. Jolts of metallic tones in the form of gold brocade and jacquard on trousers and dresses provided a glamorous finish.
The crush outside Stine Ladefoged’s show in the wood-panelled Børsen building, formerly Copenhagen’s stock exchange, was buzzing with anticipation. As guests gasped in awe at the beautiful, historical hall, the show kicked off with the designer’s bold take on knitwear. A specialist in the field, Ladefoged created directional looks such as body-con catsuits, mini-dresses and even suit-style jackets in wool, with looped detailing giving a 3D effect.
The art of being daring is never lost in Copenhagen, despite the Danish reputation for cool restraint. Greenland-born designer Bibi Chemnitz evoked the icy landscapes of her homeland when she opened her autumn show with a video of huskies pelting through snow. From there, her darkly evocative menswear proposed oversized, swamping sweaters and hoods that nodded to gothicism and urban sportswear.
Shorts came in faux fur, a play on connotations of winter dress – this was cold-weather attire for the club-kid generation. A similarly renegade approach to menswear dominated at Placed By Gideon, where designer Gideon Tam applied his knitwear expertise to oversized, cape-like blankets, knitted trousers and latticework over shirting.
Danish-born, London-based Peter Jensen regularly takes an off-beat muse as his starting point. In this instance, he chose a British factory worker called Viv Nicholson who was famously quoted as saying she would ‘Spend, spend, spend!’ when she won the football pools in 1961.
Jensen’s 60s-style silhouette hinted at a nouveau-riche lifestyle through gold jacquard, oversized sequins and lavish detailing on simple garments, such as pea coats bursting with pleats. No woman in the audience wouldn’t covet these ultra-wearable pieces.
But it wasn’t all conceptualism and high theatrics. Denmark is still the home of relaxed, effortless, bohemian glamour and soft, feminine silhouettes.
Malene Birger’s label By Malene Birger is one of Denmark’s most successful fashion exports and her 10th-anniversary autumn show in the opulent setting of the Danish national theatre was a celebration of her main tenet – stealth luxury, shown in funnel-neck sweaters, 70s fedora hats, tops in glittering, high-shine fabrics and lavish furs.
Birger’s inspiration for the collection came from her home. ‘For me, my home is a very important place so I thought it was very natural inspiration to start with that,’ she says. ‘On my moodboard there were lots of pictures of my typical black and white universe – my carpets, bedsheets, tiles. I also love expressing a feminine sensuality in contrast with men’s tailoring.’
The other style realists at Copenhagen Fashion Week, Noa Noa and Day Birger Et Mikkelsen, also proved that fashion to fall in love with doesn’t have to come with challenging notions, but can simply be found in the fall of a printed gown or the swing of a neat A-line skirt. Denmark has been celebrated for having the best quality of life in the world; this fashion week proves it excels at quality of style too.