ES­CAPE

Ex­plore Den­mark’s stylish cap­i­tal like a fash­ion ed­i­tor.

Elle (Canada) - - Contents - By Char­lotte Her­rold

Dan­ish de­sign in cool Copen­hagen.

with its cob­ble­stone streets and plen­ti­ful bike lanes, Copen­hagen is built for flats, not stilet­tos. So to check out the city’s spring/sum­mer 2015 Fash­ion Week, I didn’t bother pack­ing the Valentino heels that were ubiq­ui­tous in the front rows of the ma­jor fall shows just months prior. In­stead, I opted for black-and-white Nikes and fit in seam­lessly with the laid-back-chic lo­cals as I nav­i­gated this stylish hub that is primed to ri­val Mi­lan and Paris as the cool-girl fash­ion cap­i­tal of Europe.

For more than a half a cen­tury, Den­mark has been syn­ony­mous with avant­garde de­sign, char­ac­ter­ized by the modernist ar­chi­tec­ture and fur­ni­ture styles made popular world­wide by Arne Ja­cob­sen. But over the past decade, cut­ting-edge fash­ion de­sign­ers like Ma­lene Birger and Hen­rik Vib­skov have taken the torch, and to­day Copen­hagen Fash­ion Week, held ev­ery Fe­bru­ary and Au­gust, is the largest fash­ion event in North­ern Europe.

In the vast square out­side the pala­tial turn-of-the-cen­tury City Hall—the main venue for the run­way shows—the ap­peal of the un­pre­ten­tiously stylish cit­i­zenry is es­pe­cially ap­par­ent. Pho­tog­ra­phers crowd around to cap­ture lo­cal It girls draped in el­e­gant silk T-shirts, roomy trousers, soft pleated skirts and breezy cot­ton tu­nics— there’s nary an os­ten­ta­tious hat or neon fur ac­ces­sory in sight. And in this city of 1.3 mil­lion, where almost half com­mute by bike, even the style set—their feet clad in Chanel sneak­ers—pedal to fash­ion events, past mod­ern art gal­leries and land­marks such as the 19th-cen­tury amuse­ment park Tivoli Gar­dens.

“The Danes have an easy ap­proach to dress­ing,” con­firms Freya Dal­sjö, an up-and-com­ing de­signer whose show is one of the most hotly an­tic­i­pated of the week. “They want to look good but be com­fort­able and prac­ti­cal.”

It’s not the only dif­fer­ence I en­counter: Here, there’s a no­tice­able ab­sence of care­fully guarded guest lists. The Copen­hagen Fash­ion Fes­ti­val, which co­in­cides with the run­way pre­sen­ta­tions, of­fers an as­sort­ment of more than 200 exhibitions, par­ties, com­pe­ti­tions and shows trumpeting the invit­ing tag line “Open to all.” Events such as the Global Fash­ion Ex­change (a gi­ant lux­ury cloth­ing swap) and #street­sty­leride (a stylish bike tour) are untick­eted and wel­come tourists and lo­cal scen­esters in ad­di­tion to in­ter­na­tional buy­ers and jour­nal­ists.

Re­cip­ro­cally, Dan­ish de­sign­ers take the pub­lic into great con­sid­er­a­tion when imag­in­ing their col­lec­tions. “When I de­sign, it’s very much about the women I see on the street and work with,” says Ditte Reff­strup, cre­ative di­rec­tor for Ganni, which is build­ing an in­ter­na­tional fol­low­ing de­voted to its whim­si­cal yet wear­able sta­ples. As the city’s style scene ma­tures, other de­sign­ers are chal­leng­ing any sin­gle def­i­ni­tion of what it means to be a Dan­ish fash­ion brand. For her spring/sum­mer 2015 col­lec­tion, Dal­sjö broke out with more dar­ing touches, like coloured fur and beaded em­bel­lish­ments. When I ask her whether she has found it dif­fi­cult to be dif­fer­ent, she doesn’t hes­i­tate to say that she feels “very sup­ported.” That’s the thing about Den­mark’s cre­ative cap­i­tal: It re­ally is open to all.

Copen­hagen’s H. C. An­der­sens

Boule­vard (above) leads to City Hall Square, where the shows are held; the front row swooned

over Mark Kenly Domino Tan’s s/s 2015 col­lec­tion (right).

The in­ter­ac­tive #Hap­pyWall in Ny­torv square (right); top looks from Fon­nes­bech and Baum und Pfer­dgarten

(be­low and far right)

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