Copenhagen Fashion Week: Influencer junket fashion
Copenhagen Fashion Week, which ended Thursday evening, is arguably as famous for its street style photos as the actual runway shows and brands on display. Though judging on this week’s shows, its primary role is as much as a junket for junior influencers.
One cannot fault designers for effort or enthusiasm, but judging from this week’s catwalks there is a reason the photography of guests outside shows are more followed than models on the runways. The shows and the brands are highly erratic.
There were a small handful of strong shows – notably Soeren Le Schmidt, (di)vision, Wood Wood and Henrik Vibskov – but overall no one could possibly describe this as a vintage season in the Danish capital. Most of the time, it seemed designed to humor obscure influencers rather than professional fashion retailers or editors.
Some strong ideas did emerge – abundant puffer gilets and accessories; quirky two-piece shoes; industrial finishing; endless green plaid; survival-chic layering and the really ginormous boot. However, the fashion muse didn’t sing with any great cadence in Denmark this week.
Far too often the clothes looked like poor copies of influential designers in London, Milan and Paris, all jumbled up together. Dollops of Rick Owens; lots of Off/White; elements of Y-3; a soupcon of JW Anderson and a dash or two of Supreme.
The opening evening on Monday did have two strong statements by Soeren Le Schmidt and (di)vision. The first was ingeniously staged inside a carousel within the city’s most famous tourist destination – Tivoli Gardens.
Soeren Le Schmidt
Models posed inside various fairytale tableaux wearing oversized tuxedos with contrasting piping; satin sports jackets; off-the-shoulder frocks and blazer-dresses. Nothing terribly new, but at least a great Instagram moment, which is never to be sneered at in fashion.
And full marks to (di)vision, which describes itself as a “multi-disciplinary brand” founded by the siblings Nanna & Simon Wick. They pulled off a double whammy inside the capital’s Planetarium, showing their link-up with Adidas, an NFT named The Ozzy Drop, a bug-eyed downtown dude avatar. By scanning a QR code and entering a raffle, 10 lucky fashionistas attending the season could end up with a free Ozzy outfit. Besides an insouciant lookbook video, the brand also staged a clever show and strong collection: including crazy mega color-block clubbing parkas and spy coats and excellent rolled-down-at-the-waist denim jeans.
And, if you want a good example of Danish cool, then check out Samsøe Samsøe. Nothing very revolutionary, but well-made, fresh and flattering clothes. Plus, they made an excellent lookbook video, faintly claustrophobic in a Samuel Beckett sort of way, of models marching around a never-ending corridor in natty chunky check mohair tops; one-shoulder dresses and degrade silk slip dresses. The Samsøe Samsøe after-party also boasted a fantastic DJ and cool inclusive crowd, a brand with its finger on the pulse.
Very much a clubber's mecca, Copenhagen often featured live music at shows, notably Wood Wood, where two ace DJs worked a dark space underneath massive light zeppelins. Featuring gutsy graphic blousons and coats in a collab with local fine artists; striped hoodies with matching pants; perfectly cut oversized pants and some great broken-pattern cable sweaters – half them in midnight blue. Plus, in a city obsessed by clunky boots, they had the best idea – reinforced wellingtons, sturdy chic at its best.
In another snappily staged show, Henrik Vibskov was at his quirkiest best. Historically, the first indie Scandinavian designer to be listed on the official Paris runway schedule, Vibskov has always had very specific aesthetic – eye catching arty. In a former warehouse bedecked with knee light pillows, we witnessed New England plaid suits skillfully cut with dhotis; samurai padded waistcoats and cocktails; and lots of great orange and plaid knubby wool coats, one worn on a veteran Jean-Luc Godard lookalike model. Models also marched on roped together futurist platforms, where the toe and the heel were physically separated.
Any time one lamented to locals how underwhelming the current season was, they tended to respond by asking if we had seen Saks Potts. Though their Danish accents made the name sound like Sex Pot. Actually, Saks Potts was Scandi fashion doing what it does best – spruce, smartly-tailored outerwear for self-confident ladies. Clever color blocking an unerring palette and sense of modernist taste - polished professionalism from founders Cathrine Saks and Barbara Potts.
Scandi fashion’s single most followed fashion house is probably Ganni, based in Copenhagen and run by the husband-and-wife team creative director Ditte Reffstrup and dounder Nicolaj Reffstrup. No show this season, but the season’s best video that starred a local singer, and was flooded with '90s nostalgia – featuring rockstar cut-off jean jackets and wide pants tucked into boots; aqua blue rouched silk cocktails and low-cut come-hither cheesecloth blouses. A tad raunchier than Ganni’s often Victorian-inspired look, but none the worse for that. “There’s a big yearning for the '90s, and all the freedom we associated with that decade. Plus, all my design team have been watching Euphoria,” laughed Ditte, referring to the music-driven new cult series.
Elsewhere, however, one had to wade through a great deal of style facileness.
Baum und Pferdgarten
Baum und Pferdgarten showed matelassé flounce skirts, volume coats and truly dreadful shorts; slightly askew blouses; predictable trenches and chunky cable knits. What’s the Danish for utterly banal? It turns out to be fuldstaendig pinligt, which sounds pretty awful when you say it out loud. Just like this collection.
The omens looked good for Soulland, which staged its show inside a giant train repair depot, as a fine saxophonist played Albert Ayler-style jazz. But the clothes were far from Soulland, more soulless. Biliously baggy work; odd faux dhotis; disproportioned blazers and sad pajama suits.
Nothing terribly wrong with local boy Martin Asbjørn, who can drape, and is a respectable tailor who leavened his collection with some great metallic leather looks. However, like the season itself, it left you longing for a lot more.
All told, one spent three days with gray skies; minus-zero temperatures, and on Thursday morning a fog so dense that guests in the two-tower Bella Ski hotel – which housed many editors and buyers - could not see the other twisting tower from their room windows just 40 meters away.
The long winter clearly influences local style, and its need for color. Those who have visited Galway or Kerry in the rainy west of Ireland, or spent a winter in the snow of St Petersburg, will understand the syndrome. But where the Irish and the Russians paint their cottages and palace bright sherbet colors, the Danes alter the colors of their clothes.
Finally, a straw poll of a half dozen savvy and experienced Italian boutique owners was pretty damning.
“The big problem is that there is no real DNA here, no real identity. Just interpreting and following better designers elsewhere,” lamented one owner. “Yes, we will pick up brands, but less than before and probably not stock them for so long,” added another. “The big problem in Copenhagen was there was not very much new,” sniffed a third.
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