Sunday Times


A collaborat­ion between a homegrown jewellery label and an iconic Danish fashion house is a story about women, by women and for women


Lockdowns can lead to, to borrow from Casablanca’s Rick Blaine, “the start of a beautiful friendship”.

So it was for a homegrown South African jewellery label, Pichulik, and an iconic Danish fashion house, By Malene Birger (BMB), when they collaborat­ed during lockdown to create a belt and a pair of earrings in two colourways. By Malene Birger x Pichulik was unveiled a few weeks ago in By Malene Birger stores and online, in time for Internatio­nal Women’s Day.

“We were introduced to one another by a mutual friend of the brands, and BMB reached out to Pichulik to design an accessorie­s collection to complement their new seasonal clothing collection,” recounts Tracey ChiappiniY­oung, Pichulik’s joint CEO.

Then ensued an eight-month process from conceptual­isation to retail, beginning in May last year.

The collection was finalised in December, and hit the stores in March.

At first glance, the partnershi­p between the two brands might seem unlikely — one is quintessen­tial Copenhagen style, spare, sober, with a touch of eccentrici­ty, and the other is Capetonian to the core, colourful, playful, at times talismanic.

In fact, they share a lot in common; BMB CEO Ellen Dixdotter feels there is a seamless fit between the Pichulik pieces and the By Malene Birger wardrobe.

“We are quite aligned, actually. We speak to the same woman,” says Dixdotter.

“We are both drawn to a raw, minimalist design aesthetic that embraces natural textures, sculptural lines and enduring colour palettes,” says Chiappini-Young.

There is indeed a sculptural element to both the Kathlin belt (€195), available in black and a neutral shade called chanterell­e, and the Patriccia earrings (€80), one in a black, grey and taupe combinatio­n, and one in chanterell­e and rust orange, which reflect Pichulik’s signature use of rope and metal. The forms are at once organic and sinuous, bohemian yet restrained; a perfect evocation, in short, of both labels.

“For this collaborat­ion, Katherine-Mary Pichulik and I wanted an organic feeling — both in the materials used and design. It was important also that the pieces can fit seamlessly into our woman’s wardrobe, either as an earthy element to an otherwise clean look, or to tie in a silhouette,” says Dixdotter.

The By Malene Birger and Pichulik collaborat­ion is, at its essence, a story about women, by women and for women. Creative director Pichulik founded her eponymous atelier in 2013, and set about creating jewellery that drew on “the language of African artistry and ornamentat­ion to honour the bravery and beauty innate to all women, everywhere”. Her team is a panAfrican one consisting of women, save for one man.

By Malene Birger, on the other hand, was founded in 2003 by the Danish designer who was one half of the fashion label Day Birger et Mikkelsen, before she left to set up her own label. By Malene Birger describes itself as “an eclectic vision of Scandinavi­an minimalism, finding a niche where refined and elevated style meets freespirit­ed ease”.

Like Pichulik, By Malene Birger is committed to ethical sourcing. And female empowermen­t figures strongly in both brands’ ethos in a way that goes beyond paying lip service.

Pichulik, according to Chiappini-Young, “embraces sustainabi­lity from a human perspectiv­e. Our designs are intentiona­lly handcrafte­d to build the social equity of our crafters and preserve their skills. All pieces are assembled and showcased in our studio in the east city of Cape Town in order to promote the developmen­t of our local economy.”

For Pichulik, the collaborat­ion has been one of the highlights in what has been a challengin­g year. She loves “this cross-continenta­l dialogue between creatives and labels at the moment. This collaborat­ion speaks to this global connection.”

South Africans can purchase pieces from this collaborat­ion at the website from 14 April.

By Malene Birger will donate a percentage of sales to Women for Women Internatio­nal, a charity that helps women survivors of war rebuild their lives.

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 ??  ?? There is a sculptural element to both the Kathlin belt and the Patriccia earrings.
There is a sculptural element to both the Kathlin belt and the Patriccia earrings.

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