An interview with Henrik Vibskov
Getting a chance to interview Henrik Vibskov at his studio in Copenhagen feels a bit like winning a golden ticket to visit Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, with a series of tests involved before you get the prize. To begin with, to get to Vibskov’s universe on Papirøen (Paper Island) you have to pass Christiania, the famous self-proclaimed Danish ”free state” that is home to anarchists, artists, hippies, and recreational drug users. I tell myself that in the name of journalism it’s my duty to Odalisque readers to take a detour to Christiania. After a quick walkabout observing the brisk trade in cannabis being purchased, tested, and smoked by groups of “marijuana tourists”, I power walk myself away from Christiania. A few minutes later I am entering Papirøen and I find “Den Plettede Gris” (The Spotted Pig), the café where Vibskov has his studio, just steps away from several other buildings that make up his special universe. The building that houses the café is a few centuries old and the ceilings are very low. Vibskov is in the doorframe, waiting for me to arrive. He is a slim man who is nearly two metres tall. He is good-looking in a Scandi-arty way, wearing a beanie, a track suit, a jumpsuit and a big scarf. He has very intense blue eyes, and he is nearly bent in half. “Are you hungry? I’m starving. Let’s eat in the studio kitchen with the rest of my team”, he says. Danish cheeses of different types (and various level of stink), dense Danish rye breads, smoked sandwich meats, fish, fruit, salads, vegetables, and a few baked lasagne type dishes are all put out on a small wooden kitchen table and the counter tops in the not-so modern kitchen. Slowly, members of Vibskov’s design team, Team Vibs, wander into the kitchen and serve themselves some food. The team is made up of young designers from Denmark and other parts of Europe and the world. Conversation flows about everything from how the latestcollection is coming along to the best place to buy organic bread in Copenhagen. The atmosphere is friendly and familial. When everyone has had enough to eat they wander back to their desks, and back to work. Vibskov is now smiling. It’s obvious his blood sugar levels are back up, and the interview can finally begin. TO: Are you the hardest-working man in fashion?
HV: Well, I’m not sure about that but I always work on three collections at the same time. It’s exciting how fast things move in fashion, but sometimes we can lose track of where we are and what season we are working on because we have so many collections being developed at the same time.
TO: Why work on so much at the same time? I’ve seen your team and there aren’t many people here so I wonder, how do you get it all done?
HV: Things are definitely intense. If I worked for Dior or another one of the big
houses, things would be a little different with more assistance available. Yes, the team is small but very dedicated. They also like hard work.
TO: But you don’t only work on your collections, you do many different kinds of projects?
HV: In general when you’ve been doing the same thing for a long period of time you need to find passion and energy and things to keep you excited. My brain needs to be entertained and challenged, and I need to do different things. Many of the projects that I am doing are the result of requests from different people who ask me to do stuff for them. I mostly say yes so I guess you reap what you sow. For instance, if you work with installations for spaces people notice and suddenly you get more requests to do work with spaces.
TO: I know that you are a musician as well as a designer?
HV: Music is very important to me. I’ve played the drums for more than 30 years and I have a band called Mountain Yorokobu. I’ve also toured for 6 years with a friend of mine, Trentemøller, who is a Danish electronic music act.
TO: Are you happy with the way your work is developing? With the success?
HV: I think it’s import to realise that not everything one does is a success. I’m developing what I do, thanks to the fact that sometimes my team and I make mistakes. Even the mistakes can bring something positive. It’s not only negative, and sometimes it’s like a bonus. You get a fond memory of that thing you did that went wrong. And it helps you learn something valuable for the next time.
TO: You’ve tried so many different things – is this just preparing you for the day you decide to stop being a fashion designer?
HV: I still like fashion, because clothing and fashion are the fastest forms of communication. They are actually almost faster than the Internet. It’s a very interesting idea, and that’s why I’m still doing fashion and not doing something else!