CECILIE BAHNSEN

MEET the DAN­ISH DE­SIGNER TAK­ING ON ‘TWEE’, INFUSING FAN­TASY INTO her MOD­ERN VI­SION of FEM­I­NIN­ITY, as OS­MAN AHMED DIS­COV­ERS

ELLE (UK) - - Mood Board -

WHAT DO YOU GET when you com­bine Scan­di­na­vian mod­ernism, Parisian frou-frou and Lon­don whimsy?

The an­swer is Cecilie Bahnsen, the Dan­ish de­signer known for her take on girlie sta­ples such as swing-skirted frocks, puff-sleeve shirt­ing and baby­doll dresses. This might seem sac­cha­rine to some, par­tic­u­larly at a dis­tance, but make no mis­take: Bahnsen’s ver­sion of the typ­i­cally twee is fun­da­men­tally mod­ern, thanks to her touch-me tex­tures and off-kil­ter styling. That, and the chunky hygge knits and socks oc­ca­sion­ally added to an en­sem­ble.

‘You can wear the pieces ev­ery day and throw them on with train­ers and a T-shirt,’ Bahnsen says of her de­signs, seen on women such as Ari­ana Grande and Lorde. ‘That’s what I love about them — they’re not too pre­cious,’ she says. The la­bel is rooted in her own out­look. She grew up just out­side Den­mark’s cap­i­tal, flit­ting be­tween welling­ton boots and cute smocks, with an in­ter­est in em­blems of fem­i­nine sol­i­dar­ity — school uni­forms, home­made dresses, mid-cen­tury cou­ture and Sofia Cop­pola movies. Bahnsen shares that em­pha­sis on fourth-wave fem­i­nin­ity with de­sign­ers such as Molly God­dard and Si­mone Rocha – also build­ing busi­nesses loved by women of all ages.

Be­fore launch­ing her own la­bel, Bahnsen stud­ied fash­ion de­sign at the Dan­ish De­sign School, be­fore as­sist­ing de­signer Anja Vang Krag on opera cos­tumes at the Royal Dan­ish Theatre and un­der­tak­ing free­lance com­mis­sions for Chris­tian Dior. She also stud­ied on the mas­ter’s course at the Royal Col­lege of Art in Lon­don, alma mater of in­dus­try leg­ends such as Ossie Clarke, Philip Treacy and Er­dem Mo­rali­oglu, the last of which Bahnsen also briefly worked for.

Her work with Vang Krag landed her in Paris, where she turned an in­tern­ship into a full-time job as a print de­signer for John Gal­liano. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing, she took the leap to go it alone. In 2008, Bahnsen was se­lected for the In­ter­na­tional Tal­ent Sup­port com­pe­ti­tion, and af­ter pre­sent­ing her col­lec­tion in the show­rooms at Lon­don Fash­ion Week, it caught the at­ten­tion of Dover Street Mar­ket’s buy­ers. They promptly se­cured it for the rails of Rei Kawakubo’s em­po­rium and her clothes have been sold there ever since — as well as at Matches Fash­ion and Net-a-Porter.

She was also a fi­nal­ist for the LVMH Prize in 2017, pitch­ing her la­bel to a glit­ter­ing cast of judges in­clud­ing Karl Lager­feld, Phoebe Philo and Marc Jacobs. ‘Hav­ing a talk with Ni­co­las Gh­esquière about crafts­man­ship and tex­tiles — and see­ing how that is still so im­por­tant to de­vel­op­ing a lux­ury brand — gave me faith,’ she says.

As a re­sult, Bahnsen places an em­pha­sis on hand­crafted tech­niques, pro­duc­ing all sam­ples in Copen­hagen and en­sur­ing all pro­duc­tion hap­pens in Europe. ‘The woman who has a fac­tory here is ac­tu­ally my old teacher from the RCA,’ she points out, adding that right now her team is just three. ‘It’s a nice fam­ily feel.’

Fa­mil­ial, yes. Fem­i­nine, with­out a doubt.

FI­NAL­IST Bahnsen with Ri­hanna at the LVMH Prizein 2O17Skirt, £1,210Shorts, £210

Dress, £1,730

Dress, £1,140

FU­TURE OF FEM­I­NIN­ITY Bahnsen’s pure and pretty Cruise 2019 col­lec­tion

THE DE­SIGNER Cecilie Bahnsen

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