Odalisque - - Contents -

En­te­ring a pho­to stu­dio hid­den in the at­tic of a buil­ding in cen­tral Stock­holm one autum­nal Sa­tur­day mor­ning, I did not ex­pect to end up in in a twis­ted, pa­ral­lel re­a­li­ty. The­re I was, sur­roun­ded by ob­scu­re masks ador­ned with pre­cious sto­nes, opu­lent black fe­at­hers and dra­ma­tic horns. The man be­hind this sce­ne­ry, li­ke so­met­hing out of "Ey­es Wi­de Shut", was Dutch de­sig­ner Jes­sy Heu­ve­link. Af­ter ca­re­ful­ly set­ting up his beau­ti­ful and phan­tas­ma­go­ric cre­a­tions, he had so­me ti­me to talk about the cu­ri­ous ways of fin­ding fashion in­spi­ra­tion, wea­ving nocturnal dreams and blur­ring the bounda­ri­es between the re­al and sur­re­al.

WPB: You are the he­ad of de­sign at the well-known Swe­dish brand J.lin­de­berg, but so­me ti­me ago you star­ted your own brand, de­di­ca­ted to masks and ac­ces­so­ri­es, JH Nocturnal. What we­re you loo­king for in star­ting your new pro­ject?

JH: When I first star­ted wor­king for J.lin­de­berg I was ve­ry hap­py – fi­nal­ly I had an op­por­tu­ni­ty to com­bi­ne eve­ryt­hing I’d le­ar­ned through my long jour­ney as a fashion de­sig­ner. But af­ter 10 ye­ars the­re I felt unin­spi­red. The col­lec­tions we­re get­ting big­ger and big­ger, ti­me fram­es tigh­ter and tigh­ter. Even tough I worked in a cre­a­ti­ve en­vi­ron­ment, it was be­coming a machi­ne.

Th­ree ye­ars ago du­ring Christ­mas I ca­me down with a ter­rib­le bout of pneu­mo­nia that kept me in bed for th­ree weeks. It was then when so­met­hing just bro­ke in me: I saw I could not con­ti­nue in the sa­me way any­mo­re.

My hus­band is a DJ and he had a sum­mer club du­ring Pri­de we­ek. One day he asked me if I could ma­ke an art in­stal­la­tion when he was play­ing. I got dres­sed up, put on he­els and a mask and ma­de – and beca­me – a pie­ce of gen­der-ben­ding, living art. This spon­ta­ne­ous event star­ted a re­al flow of cre­a­ti­vi­ty.

Af­ter 3 ye­ars I di­sco­ve­red that eve­ryt­hing I do for my own brand, I get re­war­ded for whi­le wor­king for J. Lin­de­berg; the in­spi­ra­tion that I get be­comes an ener­gy that I can put in­to eve­ryt­hing I work with. It’s a cre­a­ti­ve plat­form whe­re I can fre­ely ex­press my­self and do ex­act­ly what I want.

WPB: It all star­ted with a per­for­man­ce, and the mask is a ve­ry thea­tri­cal ele­ment. What draws you to the­se dra­ma­tic at­tri­bu­tes?

JH: When you put on a mask, you can be­come a com­ple­tely dif­fe­rent per­son. It li­te­ral­ly hi­des you in sort of a shi­eld. It is al­so a ga­te­way, ope­ning up things in your­self that you didn’t know we­re the­re. It gi­ves you an ab­i­li­ty to ex­press your­self in dif­fe­rent ways, and when you ta­ke it off you can ta­ke its ener­gy with you in your nor­mal li­fe. It is all about blur­ring the bounda­ri­es between re­a­li­ty and fan­ta­sy.

The masks are fan­ta­si­es, my brain­child­ren, eve­ryt­hing that go­es on in my he­ad and no one knows about. The first ti­me I ma­de a mask pe­op­le we­re asking, "my god, do you re­al­ly think li­ke that?"

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