“There is a sense of toughness and practicality that I think make their way into the creative consciousness,” Thorey Eva Einarsdottir, director of the Reykjavik Fashion Festival said of the artistry of her native Iceland. “The weather and landscape are both unforgiving and astonishingly beautiful.” After a trip to see what she meant this past weekend, that seems like something of an understatement.
The festival, which wrapped up at the Harpa center in Reykjavik — itself a marvel of design — showcased six homegrown desingers, including JÖR by GUDMUNDUR JÖRUNDSSON, Sigga Maija, Magnea, EYLAND,ANOTHER CREATION, and SCINTILLA.
The most striking of the group came on Friday night with the show from JÖR, whose mens and women’s pieces both evinced a strong, gothic sci-fi influence, A Clockwork Orange in particular.
“It was like kind of a fusion in a way of 90s gothic and sci-fi, with a little romance to it,” he explained after the show. “Usually my inspirations are quite clear, but the fusion was fun. And it was a tribute to my lucky number 13,” he said, referencing a number which has been common in the brand. “I was born on Friday the 13th, and when I heard the show was set on Friday the 13th…”
Well, then it makes sense there would be horror-inspired undertones as well:
On the opposite end of the spectrum was Scintilla.
Traditionally a textiles brand, who specialize in home goods — pillows, blankets and so on — they’ve branched out into a clothing line this year, with a focus on scarves that almost double as blankets they’re so big anyway, like this 2 meter one shown off by creative director Linda Bjorg Árnadottir in her show room.
Their looks were softer, in all sense of the word, color, fabric, a decidedly more feminine feel than all of the other designers, who hued more toward a stark palate of blacks and metallics. “It is progressive graphics that is driving us,” she explained.
“A little Art Deco, post modernism. I’m not doing modern Scandinavia. The importance is the quality material.”
Árnadottir had a unique position in the festival in that all but one of the other designers was a former student of hers at the Icelandic Academy of the Arts, something that points to the country’s interconnected, more intimate fashion world.
“I think it’s changed a lot,” she said of the Iceland fashion scene. There’s no shortage of creativity and talent, she pointed out, but now they all need to make the jump into industry. “What we need to see now is for the companies to function, to make revenue and not close down. There’s been too many companies coming up, and two years later they shut down. It’s harder since Iceland is away from the market. But we are in between America and Europe.
This being Iceland, after all, fur-lined jackets and caps featured heavily in many of the collections, like these above and below from Eyland.
“Because of the weather coats and jacket are essential,” Anna Johansen of Another Creation explained.
All of their line was multi-functional in one way or another, including reversible overalls which you can reverse, or trousers with changeable patterns that one can play around with, and jackets with removable sleeves. Another Creation live-drummer-aided show hinted at the line’s rock and roll aesthetic, which showed up in the leather, biker-jacket style pieces like these below.
“With the jackets you can take the sleeve or the collar and lower part off and replace it with new sleeves of a different color. You can completely change the jacket into coat with fur collar. You can update you clothes like you update computer software. I think it will be the future.”
“We leave it to the consumer to express their creativity by how they use the clothes.”
Elsewhere, they showed a more theatrical flare, with an opera house style piece complete with a mask, which Ýr Þrastardóttir, seen above, said was called “the hunger dress.”
Drama aside, there was also plenty of more ready-to-wear, striking silhouette knitwear from Magnea, and bold, androgynous affect from Sigga Maija.
All that’s left to do now for many in the Iceland fashion world is for more of them to break into the bigger markets.
“I have graduated about 100 designers,”Árnadottir said of her time teaching at the university. “I have had a lot of talented people that didn’t make it. You have to think beyond Iceland because it’s not a market. I’m trying to show students it’s not that far away, the industry. I want them to leave, get experience, and come back with it.”