Arriving in Stockholm in the morning for fashion week, seeing all the snow, I wondered what kind of shoes the fashion editors would be wearing to the shows. (Side note: In our cab from the airport, the driver told us that the traffic was so bad because the big commuter train was out of service after hitting a reindeer). The answer to the shoes (not the reindeer) is kind of the same as the overlying aesthetic here: chic but practical, lots of black, slightly androgynous and a little tough. People are armored to face the cold winter. Consequently, there are lots of men’s boots, some studs and heavy jewelry: LA meets goth, with dark pants in avant-garde, tailored shapes—some of the baggy sort that you have to be very tall and slim hipped to wear well (e.g., Swedish). We also noticed a lot of fur coats and big necklaces. Obviously all of it is worn by girls with blonde, blonde hair.
The Dagmar show opened the week. Started five years ago by sisters Kristina Tjäder, Karin Söderlind and Sofia Malm, and inspired by their grandmother, the line has received various accolades, including the Swedish Fashion Council’s Rookie of the Year Award in 2005, Swedish Elle’s pick for Best New Designer of the Year in 2006 and show sponsorship from Gen Art-NY at New York Fashion Week. The brand is known for its prints and knits, and this show was at its best when it focused on these strengths. A long, embellished belted sweater belted stood out, and my guess would be that it was knitted and detailed by hand. The line is clearly focused on craftsmanship, and they get extra points for a commitment to sustainability. Slicked back hair and muted, matte makeup was androgynous, which I thought complemented the femininity of the clothes.
I think that the collection could have been improved by better styling, and also had the feeling—with all the shows I saw today, really—that as much as I would buy these clothes in a store (and many of them I would love to own and wear), they lack some of the fantasy you want to see on a runway. But all of that is completely overwritten by the DIY element of fashion week here, which I found to be such a refreshing contrast to the slickness of Paris or New York. When I’m at a show in New York, I feel the industry pulsing all around me. I spend as much time looking at the crowd, the handlers, and the celebrities as I do at the clothing. At the Dagmar show, I spotted a baby and strangers talking to one another, and the designers came out to take their bow at the end. It really felt like you had just seen something they themselves had made, not manufactured.
The Filippa K show was held in the building that, come May, will house the new photography museum. For the moment it is unfinished, unheated and quite raw. The steps going up to the building were lined with fire pits, and I liked the contrast of the fashionistas huddled around them for warmth, like homeless people did over trash cans when I was a kid in New York. The bonus was the smell of wood smoke in the cold night. The show itself was accompanied by a woman playing a grand piano and singing at the entrance of the runway. We thought at first it might be Cat Power, her voice was that rough and that good, but it was a young Swedish artist named Hajen, who you would have heard of already if she lived in New York. Filippa K is one of the largest fashion labels in Stockholm after H&M, but her show still had that same lack of pretension that I found so enthralling at Dagmar. The clothes were understated and beautiful: menswear fabrics paired with good tailoring and clean, feminine lines. The show was opened and closed by Frida Gustavsson, who I recently had the pleasure of shooting and who can make anything look desirable. However, the long blue dress shown for the finale was amazing, Frida or not. It had the kind of discrete detailing that you can’t put your finger on but that makes a dress hang just so. The menswear felt a little Phillip Lim: sweaters, cozy prints—all eminently wearable but still compelling enough to hold your interest as they went down the runway.
Frida aside, I have not been able to shake how thin so many of the models are here. Runway models are thin no matter where you go, but I saw some girls today whose skinny legs made me cringe.
The last show of the day was Cheap Monday. Founded in 2000 as a second-hand clothing store in the suburbs of Stockholm, this denim company has become eponymous with skinny, cheap jeans. Since H&M acquired a 60% stake in the brand in 2006, it seems that they have been trying to step up their game and expand into a proper fashion line. They tapped Ann-Sofie Back as their head designer and this was her second season.
The show was held in a big warehouse and it was a Scene with a capital S. We arrived to a line extending easily two avenue blocks from the door. (Luckily there was a press entrance, or I wouldn’t have very much to tell.) After we entered, they let the crowd in, but held them behind a barricade. When they lifted the barricade it sounded like a gunshot, after which there was a literal stampede to get into the standing room section. Think Walmart the day after Christmas, maybe? I couldn’t believe it at a fashion show.
As for the show, the womenswear was covetable. Lots of jeans (of course), paired with oversized blazers, simple shorts and one hooded sweatshirt that I really wanted to take home with me (and I don’t think I’ve ever said that about a sweatshirt). Very well done. The menswear, however, I didn’t like at all. Especially in contrast to the excellent womenswear, it felt dated—enough with the ’80s already—and disappointing.
Stay tuned for more updates tomorrow…