Driving Queen Daisy: Danes in Fashion

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Published February 16, 2010

YVAN RODIC

There was more streetwear on the runway at Copenhagen Fashion week than on the streets for the simple reason that this is possibly the coldest winter Denmark has seen in 25 years. Imagine entire families out shopping on Saturday morning dressed in ski suits!   So my attempt on this trip to capture just what cool Copenhagen looks like was frustrating.  For this I recommend a visit to Swiss style snapper Yvan Rodic’s Facehunter and his visual diary, where there are pictures of many of the interesting people I saw outside the shows, but didn’t have the courage to run after in the snow, like this one. Thanks, Yvan!

Dansk Daily‘s Susanne Madsen summed up what comes to mind when foreigners think of Denmark (Lars Von Trier, Lego, Bang & Olufsen, Carlsberg and Helena Christensen). Alas fashion, at least clothes, she pointed out, is not on the list. But after the first day of Copenhagen Fashion Week,  I believe this is about to change.

The best fashion made in Denmark comes from very young, street brands that have their roots in graphic design. By that I mean Henrik Vibskov, Wood Wood and Soulland which is piloted by 23-year-old Silas Adler.

I thought about my earliest memory of Danish design and that was silver from Georg Jensen.  I rediscovered the house in Copenhagen and it was like meeting a long lost friend.  Georg Jensen was a Danish silversmith who launched his own collection of Art Nouveau inspired designs in the early 20th century. Eventually the company opened shops in London, New York, Paris, Stockholm and Berlin. Today the house produces sterling silver jewelry and home design and it has become something of an obsession for collectors’ there’s even an international Georg Jensen society to uncover all the secrets of his past work. (LEFT: COURTESY GEORG JENSEN)

Georg Jensen’s current President Ulrik Garde Due opened the shop on Saturday to stage the show of young Danish designer Ole Yde who once worked for the silversmith. Yde’s classic design was the perfect backdrop display Georg Jensen’s Reversible Daisy collection originally launched in the 1940s to celebrate the birth of Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II, known to intimates as Daisy. It’s also Denmark’s national flower. The collection served as a kind of lucky charm during the war for ladies of a certain age and was revived in 2008.  Today it’s like  brand new vintage.   Soulland was a last minute discovery, at least for me. That’s thanks to the sharp Josh Peskowitz, who was in Copenhagen researching all things Scandinavian for VMAN, which is planning a summer issue on the area. On Saturday night Josh was wearing a blue fedora cropped into a cap.  I had to know where that came from and he told me about Silas Adler, Soulland’s designer who worked with one of Copenhagen’s oldest men’s hat makers on the design. Soulland launched seven years ago when Adler was 17. He’d had a skateboarding accident and was looking for a good excuse not to go to school. The brand started with T-shirt graphics and has grown ever since. The hats are now a Soulland perennial, but other items like the Scandinavian knit poncho for fall show that Adler has more than one trick up his sleeve.

WOOD WOOD, HENRIK VIBSKOV

 

Henrik Vibskov’s show on Friday night mixed his sculpture, design and musical talents in a former slaughterhouse in Copenhagen’s meatpacking district. Assemblages of table legs, guitar parts, door knobs and other pieces of spare wood were suspended over the runway and they lit up and began twirling for the show which fits Vibskov’s  fall collection as it too looks as though it’s made from random parts. During this twirling and modeling, the designer, his brother and a third, dressed in black robes and perched on daises, played an electronic medley. Vibskov is the only Dane showing in Paris and his bright patterned clothes are favorites of musicians M.I.A., Kanye West and Chicks on Speed. His collection becomes more polished and complete every season and for fall he’s got bathrobe coats in Pendleton-type plaids, patchwork parkas and floaty dresses worn with strange takes on hiking boots.

Dunhill’s designer Kim Jones loves Danish streetwear brand Wood Wood so much he came to Copenhagen this season just to style the show, held at the elegant old Hotel d’Angleterre—which is a little bit like having an event at the Ritz. And it was perfection. Wood Wood partners Brian SS Jensen, Karl-Oskar Olsen and Magnus Cartensen have built their brand since 2002 from T-shirt graphics to a complete collection for men and women with stores in Copenhagen, Berlin and recently Vienna. Wood Wood has become a magnet for great things in product partnerships with Nike and Comme des Garçons and others, has established its own bike racing team, launched a limited edition bike with Vision produced by WeBike and brought together graphic artists and Lego, Denmark’s toy bricks for a show which toured the world last summer.  The clothes are precise and casual from patterned cardigans to shirtdresses in an animal spot print and sailor stripe polos.