Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Copenhagen State of Mind: New Nordic Fashion Spring/Summer 2017

Luminous red leather and cut-off shorts and long socks at Asger Juel Larsen at Copenhagen Fashion Week. Cover picture at the Haervaerk show and photograph above by Jesper Bang-P.Thortzen

Copenhagen Fashion Week is known for its cultural cool and celebration of Nordic ingenuity and style. Today, it is the largest and most influential fashion event in Scandinavia. Held between the menswear shows in June and the prêt-à-porter womenswear collections in September, Limor Helfgott reports on the highlights from the Danish capital. Photography by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen
Plays on gender. Photo: Jesper Bang-P.Thortzen
FOR three days, Copenhagen Fashion Week takes over the city as the best of Scandinavian design sashays down the runways at different venues around town. Denmark has become a powerful global fashion stage and has an undeniable cultural cool. It's designers are known for their sophisticated, unusual and artful collections for both men and women. There is no doubt that Danish fashion has a lot to offer, from edgy dark street couture to lighter, tailored and more flowing styles. But most of all it is their effortless, modern and fresh take on current trends. Most labels showing at Copenhagen Fashion Week had collections that were both wearable and generally more affordable than those at the major fashion cities such as Paris, Milan, London and New York. Although there were trends in Copenhagen already seen during the other fashion weeks, there were also more unique and eclectic pieces with unusual colour combinations, textures and silhouettes and interesting plays on gender, such as model Vincent Beier at Mark Kenly Domino Tan (pictured above). These are some of the brands and designers with the most interesting and innovative collections of Spring/Summer 2017:

 Asger Juel Larsen. Photo:Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen
Asger Juel Larsen: Cool Nordic Gent
This season Asger Juel Larsen, known as one of the most avant-garde, experimental Danish designers is back with a very strong collection and his catwalk show was one of the highlights of fashion week. A big questions this season in Copenhagen was can Asger Juel Larsen rise from ashes? A literal rather than metaphorical question as a few months ago, Larsen's studio in Copenhagen was tragically destroyed by fire. The designer and his team had to start afresh and work day and night to prepare the new SS17 collection. The result is a magnificent collection entitled: ‘Burned Not Fried’, a presentation with strong commercial looks and a new creative energy that was very much evident throughout his show. There was a wide variety of colour choices and silhouettes, large skeleton head designs along with loose suiting, oversized sweaters with military references, plaid shirts with statement pieces such as a red motorcycle jacket and a fierce zebra print set that stole the show.

Barbara I Gongini.: Jesper Bang-P.Thortzen 
Barbara I Gongini: The Bold Side of Summer
Once again, Barbara I Gongini presented an edgy, Nordic-inspired collection with striking pieces suitable for both men and women, especially for the bold and environmentally-conscious among us. If you are looking for a colourful summer wardrobe, you will not find it in Gongini’s collection. The colour palette was her signature black, accompanied by greys and whites and styled with large tribal inspired necklaces. Models' hair was combed up around their faces with dark ghoulish make-up to create a loose, elegant parade of extravagant pieces.

Freya Dalsjo. Photo: Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen

Freya Dalsjø: The Uncrowned Queen
Contemporary womenswear designer Freya Dalsjo is fashion week’s uncrowned queen and is known for her playful and experimental style. Her SS17 collection was very wearable: jumpsuits and shirt dresses in a range of neutral shades and lots of zippers and patchwork details. Once again, like on a lot of other catwalks this season, the designer pushed the boundaries between male and female and new, experimental forms. At first, Dalsjø's collection seems quite simple, but with an avant-garde approach: exaggerating and deconstructing forms and silhouettes and using colours that most designers would think impossible to combine. Voluminous coats, parachute dresses and the strong choice of the colour palette (a noisy lime green hue was a feature of the show) and the bold yellow, polished boots, made it quite clear that this collection was created for women with a bit of an attitude yet feminine and complex.

House of Dagmar. Photo: Jesper Bang-P.Thortzen
House of Dagmar: Imagined & Re imagined
Welcome to The House of Dagmar, a world of beautiful tailoring, flowing yet sturdy materials and fine details. The Swedish brand, established in 2005 by the three sisters Karin Söderlind, Kristina Tjäder and Sofia Wallenstam, showcased their new collection at Copenhagen fashion week for the first time. They presented a form of Swedish minimalism combining an elegant sensuality with natural materials. The inspiration is a modern woman going back to nature despite the digital world she lives in. The collection included a variety of knitwear and soft leather in natural colours: white, oatmeal, indigo, stone and sky blue hues combined with stronger colours such as orange that was used as an accent. Overall it was a sophisticated and sensual collection designed for a confident, outgoing woman.

Lala Berlin. Photo: Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen
Lala Berlin: Jungle Fever in the City Chic urban city girl, meets sophisticated jungle wardrobe seemed the inspiration for Lala Berlin's new collection. Are you confused? So were we until Iranian-born designer, Leyla Piedayesh unveiled her stunning SS17 collection ~ then the diversity all made sense. “City Jungle” was held in the old Carlsberg brewery in an industrial area in the middle of Copenhagen and had clear connections to the African jungle with a feminine flair. The colour palette went from white and soft light blue to dramatic greens, yellows, oranges and black. The strikingly innovative looks had details such as fringes, embroidered patchwork and knitted ruffles while the filmy white dresses and shirts all had rich textural details. The collection was unusually elegant yet very wearable.

Baum & Pferdgarten. Photo: Jesper Bang-P.Thortzen
Baum & Pferdgarten: The New Femininity
Designers Rikke Baumgarten and Helle Hestehave are well-known on the Danish fashion scene and are local favourites of editors and fashionistas in Copenhagen. Baum & Pferdgarten have been creating innovative feminine collections since 1999 and the brand is known for experimenting with different styles, especially clashing shapes and prints. And this season continued the exploration of these themes. The SS17 collection was inspired by the late Seventies and early Eighties with a distinctly preppy style. Stripes and checks were the most stand-out combination with prints layered upon prints. Other features were the pussy-bow blouses and suit jackets, sheer skirts teamed with striped knee-high socks and floating lemon-yellow dresses worn on top of knitted, striped trousers. All of the these elements added up to a quirky and fun new collection.

 Mark Kenly Domino Tan: Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen
Mark Kenly Domino Tan:
Chiffon School Girl

At a beautiful venue in Copenhagen's Amager, Mark Kenly Domino Tan showed stylish, feminine silhouettes. The SS17 collection included an eclectic choice and mix of fabrics. Chiffons and silks were teamed with contrasting furs and suiting while fur-lined coats were paired with over-sized bows and silken trousers. Pinstripe shirts were transformed into dresses with sky-high slits. Collaborating with Yvonne Koné and Orit Elhanati, Mark Kenly Domino Tan's collection was complimented by beautiful shoes and jewellery. It was interesting to see yet another show that proves gender norms are shifting in fashion. The label's gender-fluid muse and one of fashion’s most promising new faces, Maison Margiela’s stunning seventeen year old Vincent Beier, walked the show again, having made his debut with the brand last August. Overall this season Mark Kenly Domino Tan presented a more utilitarian and less couture-influenced collection. It was still dramatic but at the same time very wearable.  

 Haerverk. Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen
Hærværk: Welcome to the Future
Every season exciting new brands are added to the Copenhagen fashion week schedule to keep us on our toes. Debuting this August in the capital was Hærværk, (‘vandalism’ in Danish) founded by Niels Gundtoft Hansen. The young designer recently graduated from the Royal College of Art, specialising in menswear, and has already been featured in Italian Vogue. The designer chose a unique, authentic and raw setting to show his new collection. The show was held at a skate ramp called Alice in Wonderland in Christiania where the designer presented his sci-fi inspired SS17 collection. The show had a strong futuristic vibe, a combination of work wear and industrial textures. Many of the garments had a pre-loved, used look mixed wtih rugged utility belts and robot-like boots with sci-fi style lettering dominating most of the pieces. Colours were strong such as blue, yellow and orange. The setting and the powerful collection made a big impact and Niels Gundtoft Hansen is certainly a new designer to keep an eye on for next season in Copenhagen!

Tap on photographs for full-screen slide-show from Copenhagen Fashion Week
Model Vincent Beier, muse for the Mark Kenly Domino Tan collection. Photo by Jesper Bang-P.Thortzen

Stylish and contemporary suiting at Mark Kenly Domino Tan. Photo by Jesper Bang-P.Thortzen

Mix of fabrics and fur at Mark Kenly Domino Tan. Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen

The dramatic and feminine new collection of Mark Kenly Domino Tan in Copenhagen. Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen 

Asger Juel Larsen's "Burned not Fried" collection at Copenhagen Fashion Week. Photo by Jasper Bang-P.Thortzen 

Dark opaque and glimmering textures at Asger Juel Larsen. Photo by Jesper Bang-P.Thortzen 

The burnt orange and yellows of the Seventies era gave inspiration to Asger Juel Larsen for the latest collection. Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen 

Space age silver & pastel pink at Asger Juel Larsen. Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen
 Backstage in Copenhagen, designer Barbara I Gongini contemplates her new collection. Photo by Jesper Bang-P.Thortzen
Ghoulish make-up created backstage at Barbara I Gongini. Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen
Appearing out of the dark, the white, windswept creations of Barbara I Gongini. Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen
Barbara I Gongini's conceptual show in fluid blacks, whites and greys. Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen 
 Asymmetry and crushed fabrics at Barbara I Gongini. Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen
Freya Dalsjo's dynamic new collection with its dash of vivid lime green in Copenhagen. Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen 

Unusual colour combinations at Freya Dalsjo in grey and lime green with s splash of denim. Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen

Tailored black jacket with a soft sheen was combined with graphic trousers at Freya Dalsjo. Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen
Sleek silhouettes and textured fabrics at House of Dagmar. Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen
Sporty colourful tops contrasted with asymmetric skirts at House of Dagmar. Photo by Jesper Bang-P.Thortzen
Smooth and bulky knitted sleeves made an interesting contrast at House of Dagmar. Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen
Flowing lines in light blue and white at Lala Berlin, held at the old Carlsberg Brewery. Photo by Jesper Bang-P.Thortzen
 A certain hippy chic ran through the new collection of Lala Berlin in Copenhagen. Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen
The finale with the designer between two giant elephants at the old Carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen, Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen 
Quirky knits at Baum & Pferdgarten. Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen
Prints inspired by the Seventies were a highlight at Baum & Pferdgarten. Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen 
A Gossamer-fine creation and retro jacket at Baum & Pferdgarten. Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen
 Sheer fabrics and a Seventies aesthetic at Baum & Pferdgarten. Photo by Jesper Bang-P. Thortzen

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Unique Visions of Haute Couture: Adeline Andre & Bowie Wong in Paris

One of French couturier Adeline Andre's brilliantly hued and fluid designs in Paris. Cover picture and all photographs by Elli Ioannou
Adeline André and Bowie Wong are fashion designers at different places in their careers with contrasting aesthetics, yet both couturiers share a determination to maintain a singularly distinctive vision of haute couture, writes our special Paris correspondent Elli Ioannou

Bowie Wong's couture AW16/17 show in Paris 
FRENCH couturier Adeline Andre is a long established member of Parisan fashion while Hong Kong-born, Australian Bowie Wong started showing his collections in Paris just two years ago. Adeline André started out being taught by Salvador Dali and then working as an assistant designer for the House of Christian Dior. Bowie Wong originally studied design in Japan and costume design in Canada, then worked on major international theatrical productions before making the move to fashion.

Adeline André created a successful career as a haute-couture designer in Paris by opening her own fashion house. She has refined her skills and craftsmanship over four decades, pioneering and patenting the ‘three sleeve-hole’ garment, selecting locations for presentations for her collections in unique spaces before it became fashionable, and creating an intimate atmosphere with her models sometimes mingling among the guests.
For last month's Autumn/Winter 2016-17 collection in Paris,
 Diaphanous gowns at Adeline Andre 
Adeline André's show opened with lilting classical music and graceful, womanly models including the  silver-haired Axelle Doue, walking the runway in an austere space at the Palais de Tokyo.
The models glided around the square catwalk slowly, pausing and posing as if for a fashion shoot for Richard Avedon and David Bailey. The collection had her signature minimalist aesthetic with ethereal, elegant and fluid lines. There were Grecian goddess-like shapes and flowing organza in fuchsia pinks, pastels, ice mint and silver. Indicative of an established brand no longer having to prove itself, with a loyal clientele, the Adeline André presentation re-affirms the designer’s calibre in haute couture with her consistent and authentic vision that ensures the longevity of her fashion house. Her work seems to say simply "this is who I am".

French couturier Adeline Andre after her AW16/17 show
André's career in couture began with her own label in the 1980s, following an illustrious period of training in the 1970s. The couturier was born in Bangui, French Equatorial Africa but has spent her adult life in Paris.

At the start of her career she wanted to be a fashion photographer and went to London before returning to the French capital to study fashion. During this period she went to the Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne and took fine art lessons from Dali, preparing for her career in fashion.

 Ethereal ensembles in the new collection 
After graduating, Adeline André entered Christian Dior’s fashion house in 1970 as the assistant of Marc Bohan for the haute couture line. Three years later she started working for Louis Feraud, and afterwards for Castelbajac. In 1981 she formed the House Adeline André and registered her most famous fashion innovation, the "three sleeve-hole," now in collections at the French Fashion Museum, Palais Galliera in Paris, the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and the Fashion and Design Museum in Lisbon. By the 1990s, André had became an invited member of the Syndicate Chamber of Parisian Haute Couture before becoming a permanent member.

Adeline André participates in gallery and museum exhibitions and has also designed costumes for ballet, opera and theatre. Her career has had many highpoints, including her dress #18 from her Autumn/Winter 1997/98 Couture collection being acquired by the French government as a work of art.

Australian couturier Bowie Wong after his catwalk show
Bowie Wong came to haute couture from another direction. The foundation and influence of Wong’s aesthetic is costume and theatre design. And for his latest presentation for the AW16/17 collection, as a guest of the Syndicate Chamber of Paris Couture, this was very apparent in its dark-hued drama. Wong’s theatrical influences started early as he grew up the son of a Chinese opera singer surrounded by the accoutrements of the stage. As a teenager Wong studied design in Japan before going on to stage and costume design in Canada. While finishing his degree in Canada, he was offered contracts on major theatre productions and international shows including The Paul McCartney World Tour and productions of the musicals Cats and Les Misérables.

Bold forms and shapes at Bowie Wong 
By 1997, Bowie Wong had moved to Sydney where he spent three years, deciding fashion was what he wanted to focus on. He launched his first complete collection and began to establish himself as a local Australian brand. Ten years later, Wong began to produce an annual couture collection of custom-made dresses and  evening gowns which was shown at Australian Fashion Week and dressed high-profile singers and celebrities. Two years ago, Wong left the runways of Australian fashion week to show among the top haute couture designers in Paris. This is his fifth collection shown in the French capital as a guest designer at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week.
He has said that couturier Elie Saab has been the mentor that encouraged him to branch out from his original Bowie brand in 2011, to fully express himself as a designer. Each collection symbolises a new transformation.  “Throughout my career, I have worked towards becoming myself,” he has said. “My designs, nowadays, embody who I am more than what I was doing before.”

Bowie Wong's exuberant yet all black couture collection
His latest collection in Paris at the grand and elegant Peninsula Hotel, opened with nocturnal sounds that hinted at the theme of the all-black show entitled Eclipse. Models with blowsy and bouffant Elizabethan-style hair by Kevin Murphy combined with pale make-up came down the runway with folkloric style leather-clad shoes. The models seemed like birds with exotic, ruffled plumage. There were leather ensembles of tops and layered skirts, alongside elliptical-shaped dresses using fabric constructed to appear like a large black rose. The atmosphere of the collection suggested 18th Century Valkyries with bold shapes and big hair.

According to Robert Greene, author of Mastery: “In order to master a field, you must love the subject and feel a profound connection to it”. This captures the ethos of Adeline André and Bowie Wong and the particular and personal designs they express in each of their evocative collections.

Tap on photographs for a full-screen slideshow to see more of Adeline André & Bowie Wong's collections 
Photographers wait for the Bowie Wong runway show to begin at Paris's Peninsula Hotel
Guests start arriving at Bowie Wong's Autumn/Winter 2016-17 show in Paris 
Exuberant forms yet a uniformly black colour palette at Bowie Wong
Evocative, sculptural shapes and whumsical shoes at Bowie Wong 
One of the outstanding pieces of three dimensional designs in the haute couture collection of Bowie Wong
Fluid black pieces contrasted with more bulbous confections in the new couture collection 
Models wearing the Eclipse collection presented in Paris by Bowie Wong
Both opaque and gleaming fabrics enhanced Wong's black palette 
A model poses after the runway show of Bowie Wong at the Peninsula Hotel
Sleek hair and red lips were a dramatic contrast to Adeline Andre's floating chiffon creations
An elegant, architectural sandal made the perfect counterpoint to Adeline Andre's long gowns
Blocks of colour made strong statements that were softened by fluid lines 
The combination of the pragmatic and the poetic at Adeline Andre gave her collection a wearability from morning to evening
Fuchsia Pink and Pillar Box Red worked surpisingly well together in the new collection
 Couturier Adeline Andre talking after her runway show at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris
Another unusual hue that formed part of Adeline Andre's soft, pastel palette
The flowing, abstract lines of one of Adeline Andre's long creations that could reflect her artistic training with Salavador Dali
The subtle, evanescent hues of this mauve evening dress seem to capture the French couturier's mastery of cut and colour
Fluidty and minimalism have long been a signature of Adeline Andre's work 
 The models slowly moving along the runway also stopped for photographers as part of the show
The open-toed shows in silver were an effective foil to the floating dresses
 Womanly models were a highlight of Adeline Andre's shows and showed her avant-garde vision
One of the three-hole sleeve designs that Adeline Andre patented in the 1980s
The beautiful, silver haired Axel Doue who featured in the Adeline Andre show
Guests waiting before Adeline Andre's haute couture show in Paris for AW16/17
The couturier Adeline Andre at the finale of her show in Paris 
 Models in the contrasting bold colours and pastel, diaphanous gowns leave the runway at the end of Adeline Andre's show in Paris

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