Magnea’s fashion show at the fifth annual Reykjavik Fashion Festival on Saturday began with strobe lights, followed by strobe lines. A model appeared at the top of the runway, standing still as lights flashed around her, bouncing off of her clothing.
Designer Magnea Einarsdóttir always knew she wanted her show to extend past the clothes—to exist as a performance as well as a fashion statement. After selecting her fabrics, she worked closely with a lighting designer and the musical duo Good Mood Deer to craft a spectacle. “The concept was that the clothes, the lights, and the music would all work together to create the show,” she explains. The crowd was mesmerised. “The reflection did not show properly on stage as every person would have had to light them up with torches,” Einarsdóttir tells us. “But we are doing a photo shoot soon where we will play more with the lights.”
Born and raised in Iceland, Einarsdóttir studied knitwear at Cental St. Martins in London. After graduating in 2012, she was selected as one of 10 finalists in the Muuse x Vogue 2012 Talent Awards. In 2013, she was invited to show her first post-graduate collection at fashion festivals in Brighton and Cadiz, Spain, and Guðmundur Jörundsson, another fast-rising Icelandic designer, asked to stock Magnea at his Reykjavik flagship shop, Jör.
Thus far, Einarsdottir has focused her collections on the union of seemingly incompatible fabrics, such as rubber and Icelandic wool in her final collection at Central St. Martins. For her most recent collection, the 28-year-old designer added another layer to her custom textiles with the help of a local t-shirt and sportswear print company named Batik.
THE INSPIRATION: For Fall/Winter 2014, I started by looking at construction sites and scaffoldings in Berlin, which led me to look at workwear. I went all around Reykjavik and snapped pictures of builders, and got struck by the reflective bits and straight horizontal lines in their clothing, as well as their helmets. Since I was doing my research in November and December when we have almost no sunlight during the day, I realized that the workers were the only ones who were “dressed for the occasion.” No one else in Iceland wears the reflective bits, as they should, because they are ugly. It was then that the reflection idea came in, and I found these reflective yarns I wanted to work with in my knits.
A CREATIVE EVOLUTION: [This time] the contrast in the fabrics lies in the quality of the print—plasticol—versus the super-delicate lace knit fabric, creating a new fabric with the clash of these materials. This idea was inspired by my mixing of rubber and wool in previous collections—two different materials that I mixed together by hand. For this collection, I wanted to develop and see how I could have something similar produced.
LET THERE BE LIGHT: The reflective bits are in the knitted fabrics included in six looks. It is actually a yarn that I have knitted in with the other yarns. I used a knitting technique I developed inspired by my embroideries in the past. I like challenging myself and trying to find ways to create something nice out of something that is considered mundane or even ugly. I thought that including reflective bits was an exciting opportunity.
HATS ON: The hats were a design collaboration between me and Sigrún Halla, and originally came from builders’ helmets. We agreed on making caps inspired by the helmets; Sigrún finalized the patterns and together we chose this net fabric to create the sporty feel. We finished them with Icelandic wool, again referencing my previous work.
FASHION DESIGN AND PERSONAL STYLE: My personal style has changed a lot since I was a teenager. I used to dress way more colorfully; I wore vintage dresses and clothes I made for myself, but somehow, during my fashion studies my style changed. I don’t think about standing out as much as I used to, and I almost never buy clothes for myself. I think it’s actually very common with fashion students. In the first year at CSM, everyone was trying to make a statement every day. Throughout the years, it develops into their designs and, in the final year, no one has time to think about it anymore. After I moved back to Iceland I got the same feeling I had when it all started: every shop has the same things, and everyone dresses the same. But I don’t make as much for myself as I used to. I wear black a lot and improvise with small details like socks, shoes, and accessories. I’ve also got very picky throughout the years since I’ve become more aware of the environment and choosing quality over quantity.