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Swedish art and fashion collaborations

Swedish artists and fashion brands are collaborating in a series of exciting projects, as Stephanie Hirschmiller discovers

Stephanie Hirschmiller,

The home of brands from Acne to House of Dagmar to Odd Molly, Sweden has long been known for its cutting-edge fashion talent and Stockholm Fashion Week, now in its eighth year, continues to showcase the city’s leading designers. Central to this spirit of innovation is the collaborative approach, whereby designers and artists join in a melting pot of creativity.

Blank canvas
Acne has a long and illustrious history of such collaborations. In 2010 the label launched its two-year White T-Shirt Project which saw established artists such Turner Prize-nominated Lucy Skaer reinterprete the classic white T-shirt. The resulting designs were sold as limited editions accompanied by a numbered card signed by the artist. Last year, Acne created a capsule collection and corollary art exhibition with London-based sculptor Daniel Silver. One of the pieces was a pencil skirt made from layered African fabrics.

Great minds think alike
Quirky label Odd Molly worked with illustrator Maja Sten who came up with a whimsical take on its spring/summer 2013 campaign imagery and for last year’s autumn/winter show on the opening day of Stockholm Fashion Week, it moved into the realms of performance art at the city’s Kungsträdgården ice rink. Choreographed by Fredrik ‘Benke’ Rydman (from Swedish street-dance company Bounce), the show eschewed models in favour of skaters, dancers and hockey players on a very icy runway!

House of Dagmar’s design philosophy is based on ‘arty chic’ and it utilises the colours and patterns of the art deco period. Many garments are handknitted or feature handmade details as the brand is committed to safeguarding traditional crafts –  the label’s muse is the Dagmar sisters’ grandmother, a tailor. Last season House of Dagmar collaborated with Swedish artist Moley Talhaoui to produce a charity T-shirt  in aid of Oum el Banine which empowers vulnerable women in Morocco. 

Paint effect
Known for its ‘different cut’, Tiger of Sweden certainly is a brand that does things differently so it came as no surprise when its autumn/winter 2012 Tech Noir black denim collection featured a partnership with paint manufacturer Alcro. It developed a special colour T/J Black which Tiger of Sweden’s co-designer Claes Berkes described as ‘a dry, matt, broken black’.

Swedish Hasbeens joined forces with hip UK designer Kinder Aggugini for his spring/summer 2013 show. Aggugini pronounced the traditional Swedish clog a perfect fit with his ‘Girls Gone Fishing’ theme and handpainted the shoes himself. Even socks can’t escape an artistic makeover and this year for Valentine’s Day, Happy Socks collaborated with painter and photogra­pher Curtis Kulig using motifs from Kulig’s Love Me artwork, for which he has become famous since daubing a Los Angeles wall with the words back in 2005.

Watch this space
The collaborative spirit is manifest in accessories too. TRIWA (Transforming the Industry of Watches) collaborates with artists who create artworks to coincide with each collection. Ludvig Scheja, TRIWA’s creative director, says, ‘The watch industry is one of the most conservative in the world, where marketing is mostly based upon male clichés such as actors in front of airplanes. Instead of a traditional marketing approach we enjoy finding true creatives who can inspire us and challenge consumers.’

Ice stuff
This year it’s the turn of Italian artist Alberto Seveso who works with high-speed photography and ink and his frozen-time creations are formed by dripping ink into water. ‘We first saw Alberto Seveso’s work about a year ago and we were stunned by the combination of colour and the feeling of somebody who has managed to stop time,’ enthuses Scheja. This autumn, TRIWA will join with illustrator Hattie Stewart, who has previously collaborated with Marc Jacobs. Stewart’s cartoon-inspired designs are guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of art and fashion enthusiasts alike.

However, there’s also healthy two-way traffic. Geoffrey Finch’s Australian/British label Antipodium turned to Swedish architect Pernilla Ohrstedt to create sculptural aluminium combs which were used to adorn models’ hair at its spring/summer 2013. Ohrstedt, who was responsible for the Coca-Cola Beatbox at the London Olympics, also designed a suitably graphic backdrop for the show. ‘I think there is a big overlap between architecture and the way we choose to design ourselves. From what people wear in the morning to how they do their hair, it’s communicating a style,’ says Ohrstedt. Her stylish creations for Antipodium have been shortlisted for this year’s Wallpaper Design Awards, proving that good design is always in fashion.



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