Fashion Goes Global: The Dark Fantasy of Denmark’s Anne Sofie Madsen


Fashion Goes Global: The Dark Fantasy of Denmark’s Anne Sofie Madsen


Denmark-born designer Anne Sofie Madsen’s F/W 2012 girls were otherworldly creatures. They strode from darkness in white-as-snow gowns, fashioned from intricate latticework and bits of shining, dripping, fringe. It’s no surprise then, that her collection was inspired by the goddess Sedna, “a half-skeleton, half-human Inuit goddess of the underworld.” Indeed, Madsen’s vision for Sedna emerges through the collection. A pair of tights has a leather overlay which resembles a skeletal structure, while a bulky sweater features large, tusk-like detailing. But though Sedna is a goddess, she is also a Shamanistic creation from a Danish culture strongly bound to the forces of nature. This play between spirituality and earthliness may be why Madsen’s designs, though fantastical, still retain wearability and an easy sense of style. Her Inuit influences are also contrasted with silhouettes inspired by Victorian menswear, seaming together ideas of what it means to be primitive or civilized.

After studying at the Royal Academy Arts School of Design, Anne Sofie Madsen went on to work with John Galliano and Alexander McQueen—hints of their influence can be seen in her intricate detailing and dark aesthetic—before launching her eponymous label with a show in Copenhagen for S/S 2012. Now, we’re all paying attention to this Danish designer and her undeniable talent.

BULLETT: When did you start getting into fashion and realize you wanted to be a designer?

To begin with, I actually wanted to make comics. At one point, it changed while I was around 20. I guess I was always interested in fashion, but I thought that drawing was what I wanted to do. But I became really attracted [to fashion] because of how it sort of materializes. People can walk and move, and it brings the garments to life. Of course, when you have a show—when I do a show—it’s my vision, and I do everything. But later on, when a stylist picks up the garment and puts it in an editorial, it becomes something new; or when the garments reach the shops, people wear them, mix them up with other things, and take them up into their own life. It brings it into another context and a new story, and I think that really makes me love fashion.

Tell us a little bit more about the inspiration behind the F/W collection and how you used this story of Sedna.

In the clothes I have been very inspired by traditional handicraft material. Like most places, you have folk costumes. I think all over the world, there are special techniques connected to a certain area. Here they make these special little figures called tupilaq, which is sort of spiritual, because half is ivory, and they sort of break into each other, and in some of the dresses I have tried to bring this.

Where do you see fashion going in Copenhagen? What is the industry like there right now?

I think fashion in Copenhagen is becoming more creative and experimental. I think for a long time it was dominated by really big corporate companies. Now, after the tech crunch, it has made room for a lot of smaller companies.

What kind of material do you enjoy working with the most?

Really, any type of silk. But I also like to work with materials which aren’t actually supposed to be used for garments. This collection, we used a special type of plastic material that was used as fringe, and I’ve made a lot of embroideries with shoe laces and ceramics.

The fringe in the collection is plastic?

Yeah! It’s a type of plastic that is actually made for furniture fabric.

Your work is interesting in that there’s this contrast between tribal and futurism. Are you playing with ideas of past and future?

Yes, definitely. I think some of the contrast that really fascinates me is about what is primitive and what is industrialized and what is fragmented, something between futuristic and historical. I guess I aim for something within those contexts.

Are you a designer that is more interested in aesthetics or theories?

I think they have to go hand in hand. I think in order to tell a story, there needs to be a reason for every single detail—the place or the colors you pick. And I think that that’s important. On the other hand, I think that aesthetics is a big part of it, but I always have a story or a concept for a collection. I never break the rules. If it’s like an underwater scene, you can’t have a flower, because flowers don’t exist in the ocean. You can find a sea plant.