Copenhagen Fashion Week was bigger than ever this season. Thousands descended on the Danish capital to experience what is rapidly becoming one of the most exciting events on the fashion calendar. From the ultimate in avant-garde to classic Scandinavian minimalism, the talent on show was undeniable.
As fashion insiders picked their way through the snow towards a huge warehouse on the edge of the city, high heels navigating precarious paths in near darkness, there was a feeling in the air that something special was about to happen. And it certainly was: Henrik Vibskov’s autumn/winter 2014-15 runway show, one of the most hotly anticipated events of the event.
Models marched around huge spinning installations that might have dwarfed a quieter collection, but Vibskov is never one to keep quiet, and his clothes drew everyone’s full attention, as look after look proved exactly why he’s at the top of his game. From layered, multi-coloured knits that burst with shocks of wool here and there to helmet-like hats that fastened at the chin, this was a playful, often unisex world of experimentation that somehow still seemed accessible.
Stine Goya, who has been producing beautiful ready-to-wear under her eponymous label since 2006, is one of Denmark’s most exciting fashion exports. Her autumn/winter show opened with icy blues and crisp whites, shot through with bursts of abstract prints which took inspiration from cubism. Later came looks in classic black and gold, elegant enough for evening yet styled with an insouciance typical of Goya’s work. Slouchy tailoring was paired with pop socks and golden pool slides, part of a collaboration with H2O. You get the feeling that this designer really understands the women she designs for. The Stine Goya girl is ultra-cool and ultra-stylish without being exclusive or excluding – the girl everyone wants to be.
Henrik Vibskov and Stine Goya are already making waves internationally, and brands like these bring a legitimacy to Copenhagen Fashion Week that allows it to grow and to nurture new talent. Its reputation is strong in the region, and not only Danish designers choose to make the city their home. Designer Bibi Chemnitz, who is originally from Greenland, has been showing under her own name for three seasons. Her label, founded in collaboration with multimedia designer David Røgilds brings inspiration from Chemnitz’s home country into the Scandinavian streetwear arena.
‘Greenland, with its amazing nature and warm people, is something that is very present in our collections every season,’ explains Røgilds. ‘We try to mix this with urban street culture as seen in hip-hop music and basketball.’ Viewed through the lens of the relaxed and easy-going Copenhagen vibe, these influences make for sporty and minimal shapes edged with an almost mysterious aesthetic.
Young brands such as Bibi Chemnitz are nurtured and encouraged in Copenhagen, their creativity is applauded, and there couldn’t be a better time for them to be designing. The world is paying attention to the city right now, and concepts from the Denmark catwalks trickle down into street style, continuing the dominance of Scandinavian style and influences among the fashionable.
All this attention must be particularly exciting for a designer like Maikel Tawadros, who showed for the first time this season. Danish born and bred, he praises the city’s unique approach to the fashion event, which he finds ‘laid back but in a structured way; everything is very professional but there is no snobbery.’ His collections have disparate inspirations, from nature and anatomy to the romance of different time periods, with his debut inspired by the spirit of the Renaissance. As he describes the ethos behind the collection, he could almost be describing the ethos that Copenhagen Fashion Week encourages. ‘It’s about standing out and being an independent person. About making room for who you are, for your individuality.’
Tawadros’s show was certainly individual, his warrior-like models styled with tumbling waves of hair falling around faces framed with thick white paint strokes. A palette of moody greens and purples, as well as lashings of black, was given depth with unexpected touches like furry peplums and oversized mittens. Most importantly, Tawadros has achieved something that seems almost innate to Scandinavian designers: the ability to create fresh, fashion-forward clothes that people can’t wait to wear.