Brown, pink and charcoal as trending colours, subverted check prints, sporty layering pieces and workwear as outwear - Copenhagen A/W 2024 birthed its own world, and we fell in love. Inspired by youth movements in the city, like the sharp dressers that don a shirt and tie to go to the pub, we have seen a shift on the catwalk that embraces tailoring in a fun playful way. Running in conjunction with the shows, Copenhagen International Fashion Fair captivated our attention where we saw garments up close and personal.
Long known for its sustainable approach to fashion Copenhagen never disappoints on this front. We saw mushroom coated plant fabrics at TG Botanical, organic jersey at Han Kjøbenhavn plus recycled and organic materials at Henrik Vibskov. Another form of sustainability, that is less romantic, is of course commercial sustainability – which the highly wearable looks across the board at the shows reflected too. Prioritising perfectionist level tailoring and enchanting narratives, the show-pieces were more or less concentrated at Alpha’s student cohort who exploded onto the runway at the CIFF building, Øksnehallen, with a body-revealing bolero by Alex Luonto, straw-effect sculptural dress by Ruusa Vuori and meme-saturated designs by Liana Paberza. Most of the music heard at the shows reminded us of the club and got our hearts racing. Many of the outfits raised pulses too with an interest in revealing or framing the body sensually.
Han Kjøbenhavn
Hosted in a vast concrete hall, Mineralvandsfabrikken, an old factory we took our seats eagerly. Industrial and minimalist, the droning soundscape by Berstuk that burrowed right into our ears set the tone for a collection that was amusingly titled Silence. Likely referencing the mental silence you get during a good exercise session, garments for the most part referenced sportwear – hoodies, leggings, scuba wetsuit style leotards, tracksuits, and basketball shorts. Styled with boots of alien proportions film culture seemed to seep into the sci-fi silhouettes at Han Kjøbenhavn, such as our anticipation for Dune part 2, releasing in March. A hood stretched over a model surpassing her shoulders creating this very extra-terrestrial oval shaped head. In scuba-esque materials, this leotard is elevated luxury streetwear to the core. Leotards were everywhere at the shows and this one was no exception, they come super-high cut à la 1980s or as a non-existent string of fabric revealing the body and covering the face, anonymising the wearer.
TG Botanical
At the CIFF Bella centre there was another example of putting the body on display. TG Botanical’s transparent ladder knitted cardigans in earthy brown and delicate lime with feminine flounces running down the centre enchanted us. Sensuality didn’t stop at image however, since the pieces from the māteria collection were highly tactile, made with soft yarns, or comparatively rigid-looking carpets of cream fungus grown on pieces in collaboration with artist Dasha Tsapenko. Classified by the brand as wearable pieces of art, these designs seem nonetheless store friendly. Skirts and trousers with utilitarian elements starred in the collection too, which paired well with the earth-focused colour palette of khaki, graphite and volcanic grey. The earthlings floated down the runway to a pop-y number with no lyrics that enhanced the fantasy. The whole collection was for the earth-conscious girlies who want to look hot whilst respecting mother nature. Hemlines were long but that didn’t compromise on sexuality as splits sky-rocketed or thong strings peeped out. TG Botanical embrace the low-waisted trend and had fun with asymmetrical hemlines, giving a nod to the noughties. As well as featuring one of the colours of the season: brown, the collection also starred a surface manipulation technique that mimics check patterns.
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Henrik Vibskov
Check featured in its own subverted way at The Daily Chewing Gum Therapy Session by Henrik Vibskov, whose fantastical set design transported us to a pale pink scene with stretched fabric windows that appeared to mimic bubble-gum. Inspired by self-care routines and analogue experiences as therapy, chess pieces peppered a rich chocolate check on a shirt and some wide-leg trousers. This destabilised yet familiar pattern was also shown in a light graphite on a smart dress and cape. The dreamlike chess print really captures the imagination. Other riffs on check were the paint-effect stripes on a suit and dog-tooth boxes on sporty leggings. Highly patterned the collection had a certain business to it like a mind that needs to slow down. Meanwhile, the fourteen strong range of shirts in collection– although tie-less, remind us of the smartened dressing of workwear as outwear spotted on the streets of Copenhagen. Danish and proud the brand brings out the best of their city.
One of the most exciting shows for its rambunctious designs was the Alpha show at CIFF’s hall in the centre of the city, Øksnehallen. Emerging designers showed their mini collections that were briming with imagination and style. Alex Luonto presented a body-revealing bolero jacket that took our breath away and a highly wearable yet innovative white floor length gown. That jacket embodies smart dressing that can be worn to the club. Taking two prizes - the Alpha award and Exhibition award, to exhibit in the National Museum in Oslo - Ruusa Vuori also wowed us with her unexpected binding of the body and show-stopping straw-effect dress that stretched across the catwalk in giant proportions. Meme-saturated Liana Paberza also caught our attention with her metal grey camera cami top secured with chains. Her outfits made us think if aliens designed maybe they’d create something like this – taking digital references of pop culture and exploding them into huge proportions. All the designers who showed with Alpha are recent graduates from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden reminding us just how talented the Nordics are.
Paolina Russo
The London-based designer returned to Copenhagen Fashion Week, supported by Zalando, with Cul-de-Sac. The collection explores life on the outskirts at winter. In a Stonehenge-esque ice-rink Paolina Russo presented diagrammatic graphics inspired by ancient geoglyphs and snowflake formations. Her famous möbius ponchos were designed in light brown, which the designer locates as more than a colour - it is “the very essence of the winter earth, subdued and serene.” Another colour in this season’s palette was blush pink; we particularly love the tracksuit bottoms elevated with a skirt and beautiful knitted tanks. As part of her elevated sportwear offering Paolina Russo also showed lycra base layer leggings with an enchanting, scribbled pattern running across them. Cryptic and hypnotising the prints complimented the innovative shapes on the runway, that transported us to a future where pagan traditions have renewed, and the people of the earth celebrate together.
Opening with a look pinned with a beaded alien broach, Helmstedt’s familiar world building style takes on the dusty sands of the desert – perhaps another Dune reference – with the theme of a treasure hunt. Moving away from last season’s interpretation of Mars the collection was inspired by old pirate movies. A cut and paste style check print that has a raw looking edge gives that pirate feeling to a highly decorated boiler suit. Layering pieces also played their part in the collection with more sporty leggings that feature in earthy umber and decadent violet styled with ever-popular UGGs created in collaboration with Helmstedt. A treasure chest features on a jumper and so do the familiar strawberry motifs on another. Feminine ruffles in keeping with the designer’s identity were shown but what caught our eye was the more utilitarian trousers and winter boots that felt perfect for the cold city of Copenhagen. This collection is another triumph for the designer whose sensitive approach to design stands out amongst her peers.