At Copenhagen Fashion Week, simple designs for austere times

Fri Aug 8, 2014 8:29am EDT
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By Annabella Nielsen

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Textureless fabrics in white and beige swept down the runways of Copenhagen Fashion Week in a celebration of a minimalist Nordic design tradition that is flourishing in a climate of economic uncertainty.

The shows - featuring female models lounging on seats reading magazines, or men swaggering in gothic kilts and leather jackets - proclaimed a new Danish style that rejects grandeur for simplicity and irreverence.

Growing exports from houses such as Ganni, Acne and Malene Birger together with international acclaim for designers such as Asger Juel Larsen show the growing influence of a pared-back, understated aesthetic.

"It's exotic minimalism. Beautiful simplicity is in their DNA. It is not based around high heels and mini skirts," said buying director Justin O'Shea of Munich-based luxury fashion online store

O'Shea, an Australian, said Copenhagen was one of only a few cities that inspired him. He was drawn to the Nordics not so much for the detail of the designs but a vibe, a casually glamorous lifestyle expressed through clothes.

Danish designer Barbara I Gongini produced models with birds-nest hair and scowling men in black trousers that tapered at the calf, with knee-length jackets covering their shirtless chests. Expressionless women wore asymmetrical, untailored dresses - a ruffled but simple and monochrome look.

For organizers of the fashion week, the aesthetic is fittingly austere for a continent still trying to move on from the financial crisis.

"Through time, economic circumstances have been reflected by the lengths of women's skirts and there is no doubt fashion collections in general have been cautious during the crisis," Copenhagen Fashion Week CEO Eva Kruse told Reuters before the opening show.   Continued...

A model presents a creation by Danish Fashion House Designer Remix during the Copenhagen Fashion Week 2014 August 6, 2014. REUTERS/Jonas Skovbjerg Fogh/Scanpix