When she set up her fashion company in 1999, Carin Rodebjer was one of the frontrunners of the Scandinavian style pack. Since then, her label Rodebjer has had a regular slot at New York Fashion Week and is now stocked in over 20 countries worldwide. Celebrity fans include Maggie Gyllenhaal and Meryl Streep, while Carin Rodebjer has been awarded Best Designer of the Year by Swedish Elle.
Scandinavian fashion has blossomed in recent years and Carin believes that her home country will continue to dominate the industry. ‘Swedish fashion is still very interesting. I think it keeps being relevant because it is wearable without compromising on style.’ Rodebjer’s autumn/winter 2015/16 collection We Are Stardust proves this: it features playful layers and an intriguing array of textures, from silk dresses and faux-fur coats to waxed mackintosh-style jackets and tactile knitwear.
What women want
By tapping into women’s increasing desire for wearable clothing with a touch of originality, Carin has built a successful company. She describes Rodebjer’s aesthetic as ‘timeless and relevant, slouchy and versatile’; this can clearly be seen in the current collection, which has a number of 1970s references, such as flowing dresses with purple translucent coral-like patterns, exaggerated cats-eye sunglasses, and monochrome printed turtlenecks.
The designer says she was inspired by the ‘intense paintings’ of psychedelic artists Mati Klarwein (who created record covers) and Alberto del Pozo, who was known for his mystical portraits. Both artists’ work contains many references to women as goddesses, which fits well with Carin’s feminist leanings. ‘I aim to create fashion for modern and forward-thinking women, the kind of women I have always known and admired,’ she explains. ‘I want to create clothes that enhance their personalities yet simplify their everyday clothing decisions – clothing that prepares them for the task at hand. I strongly believe in each and every individual's potential and in fashion’s ability to enhance and empower.’
The silhouettes of the autumn/winter 2015/16 collection have substance and strength, even when they feature a deep thigh-revealing slit, showing that Carin understands modern women’s need to feel beautiful without being a pushover: wearing one of Rodebjer’s bell-sleeved blue polka-dot maxi dresses is sure to be an empowering experience.
This combination of ethereal beauty with a harder edge could be attributed to the designer’s diverse background. ‘Growing up on Gotland, an isolated island in the Swedish Baltic Sea, I was unaware of the fashion industry. In that sense it took me some time before realising I could actually work with fashion and clothing,’ she explains. ‘I was introduced to the fashion industry through my friends when I lived in Stockholm, however it was when I moved to New York and started studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology that I was really confronted by the industry.’ New York has clearly left a lasting impression on the designer, and her clothes sit well among the sleek, urban collections on show at New York Fashion Week. ‘I think New York has affected my designs a lot – in many ways Rodebjer is a combination of the intensity of New York and the serenity of Gotland.’
With her Scandinavian roots, Carin has an aptitude for making layers and winter clothing more appealing than, perhaps, a designer from warmer climes. Although she concedes that ‘each season has its charm’, she prefers to design collections for the autumn/winter season: ‘I love designing coats,’ she admits.
Her approach has obviously struck a chord with high-profile fashion fans. Maggie Gyllenhaal was photographed wearing a pink Rodebjer trouser suit at the eighth annual Veuve Cliquot Polo Classic in 2015 and, according to the designer, Meryl Streep is an admirer of her work. According to Carin, seeing her designs being worn by anyone – famous or otherwise – ‘is a very joyful and precious moment.’ Her plans for the future are to ‘connect with more inspiring people through creativity’ and ‘to let Rodebjer grow.’
With the continued popularity of her garments on and off the catwalk, we’re confident that Carin and Rodebjer will continue to flourish.