With Stockholm and Oslo cancelling their fashion weeks to rethink how to make the fashion event more sustainable, Copenhagen Fashion Week was flying the flag for Scandi fashion as the only showcase in Scandinavia for the spring/summer 2020 season. Running from August 6 to 9, it featured established names including Ganni, By Malene Birger and Baum und Pferdgarten alongside rising stars Saks Potts, Cecilie Bahnsen and Stand.
Copenhagen Fashion Week’s popularity has exploded in recent years, seen as the cool kid to the traditional ‘big four’ fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris, with editors and buyers obsessed with Scandi style, and the showcase’s ability to disregard the fashion ‘rules’ in favour of experimental and contemporary collections.
For spring/summer 2020, Scandinavian brands rebelled against the minimalist aesthetic, which they have been championing in recent years, instead they opted for colour galore, with bursts of pastel lilac, green and pinks, as seen at Ganni, Elaine Hersby and Stand, while print clashes were a big trend for Saks Potts, Ganni and Munthe from floral with paisley prints to checks with pinstripes, while Henrik Vibskov paired prints of lobsters, sardines and dancing couples for a cartoon-like feel.
There was also a revival of the ’80’s with Stine Goya embracing the polka dot clash with a variety of tights, tops and dresses, while Saks Potts featured a red polka dot print throughout, and brands Cecilie Bahnsen and Holzweiler highlighted utilitarian workwear with structured shapes and tailoring pieces.
Leather also made a statement, not thought as the key fabrication for a spring/summer wardrobe, but brands including Ganni and Stand highlighted the beauty of summertime leather with Stand presenting a purple snakeskin-effect leather jacket and skirt ensemble.
Feminine silhouettes was seen throughout the Copenhagen Fashion Week schedule with puff sleeves being a key trend, seen across floaty, empire-line dresses and tops on the catwalk of Cecilie Bahnsen alongside delicate sheer organza tailoring, while Baum and Pferdgarten opted to showcase a spin on the sheer trend with see-through bucket hats, and Brøgger embrace the voluminous dress trend with floaty floor-length gowns.
Brøgger debut its second catwalk show during Copenhagen Fashion Week with its spring/summer 2020 collection by designer Julie Brøgger, which saw a continuation of her nostalgic inspiration from the strong women of her childhood, with a focus on memories of the second wave feminists.
“I see this collection as if I squinted my eyes and remember my mother and her diverse group of girlfriends in the late 1980s/early 1990s,” explained Julie Brøgger in the show notes. “Their confidence and strong convictions was as much a part of their outfits as their clothes. They would wear sharp tailoring for court and lavish shapes and fabrics for dinner parties, and use scarves for headbands and hair ties.”
In keeping with the brands play on contrasting modern femininity and masculinity, oversized pleated organza slip dresses were layered over tailored trousers, whilst androgynous shirts were seen with delicate, ruched dresses.
Another key highlight included a focus on statement shoulders, as a nod to the power dressing of the 1980s businesswoman, with a puff shoulder blazer suit made in both wool and taffeta checks, paired with wide-leg shorts.
There was also what the brand calls a “balanced attempt” to make less impact on the environment season after season, with each print is certified for its eco-friendly processes of low impact bases and works with suppliers that offer flexible quantities to reduce waste.
In addition, Brøgger confirmed that it donates leftover stock and materials to local organisations supporting women’s equality and job opportunities and that all the shoes used in the show were vintage and that circular fashion platform, Vestiaire Collective, would resell the shoes after the show.
Even the venue of the show had an environmental consideration, as the Rigsarkivets Grønne Taghave is a roof garden created as part of Copenhagen’s green roof policy in its strategy to become CO2 neutral by 2025.
Known for her fairytale-like colourful collections and playful presentations, Emilie Helmstedt who has been named “the most visionary young designer in Copenhagen” by Vogue and last year won the prestigious Magasin du Nord Fashion Prize, wowed the Copenhagen fashion crowd with her summer breeze inspired bee collection.
Emile Helmstedt, founder and creative director of Helmstedt, states in the show notes: “In an old biology book, I found a beautiful illustration of a bee that took my breath away. The bee is extraordinary in its expression and endless angles. It is sweet with its big round eyes, frightening with its sharp sting, and poetic when flying around with its flamboyant wing.”
The humble bee is the main inspiration for her spring/summer 2020 collection, with the insect featuring in her hand-painted graphic prints, alongside flowers and fruits, as a celebration of the Danish summer.
The collection features Helmstedt’s continuation to explore and reinterpret modern womenswear, with her signature dresses and two-piece silk suits featuring childlike hand-painted motives and bold, unique prints, alongside new styles, including robes, quilted jackets, dresses in crisp cotton and quirky hats, which are accompanied by extravagant grapevine resembling headpieces and earrings, handcrafted by jeweller Niels Monies, Helmstedt’s boyfriend.
“With this collection, I urge you to celebrate the nature surrounding us. My inspiration has been the small insects, that contribute to everything blossoming around us during the summer. The feeling of grass under bare feet. The smell of asphalt after a downpour of rain. Enchanting freckles and fresh red strawberries,” added Helmstedt. "I want to celebrate those endless summer nights, simmering garden parties, refreshing dips in the ocean and picnics in the park – but just like the bee – I also strive to make my presence noticed, to be annoying, yet essential, a buzz that makes you aware and reminds you to take care.”
Copenhagen-based fashion designer Elaine Hersby continues to showcase her new approach to womenswear, where body movement comes into play with the use of flexible materials that the designer states allow “bodies to breathe and move freely”.
Combining minimalistic style, with artistry and modern wearability has made her a firm hit with fashion editors on the Copenhagen Fashion Week schedule since her SS17 debut, as has her energetic, interactive performance presentations, which this season saw a playful dance performance on Soho Rooftop.
For spring/summer 2020, Hersby was inspired by the ocean and the ways in which we interact with it, which led to the creation of “organic shapes that follow the body as it moves,” explains Hersby in the show notes. This is highlighted with asymmetrical cuts and silhouettes which have been manipulated by drapes and pleating, in a colour palette of lilacs, lime green and white.
While feminine in design, there was a nod to towards athleisure with hoods featuring on her statement long-sleeve knee-length ruffle dresses, as well as sweaters and with the bodysuits, and all looked perfectly styled with trainers.
With powerful femininity as its core, Munthe’s spring/summer 2020 collection was inspired by the idea of “being real is a lot more than just looking like the nature” an impression central to sculptor Constantin Brâncuși’s work that made him controversial in his time.
With this in mind, abstract forms repeated throughout the collection, with garments draped over one shoulder, wrapped around the body, and some shirting styles looked like the fabrication had been stuffed into the pockets.
While powder pink, sky blue and burnt sienna were the key colours, pinstripes, windowcheck, denim and leather pattern, colour-blocking, and silk blended fabrications added a contemporary feel across dresses, wide-leg trousers, shirts, oversized cable knits, trousers with low crotch and pleating detailing, as well as oversized coats, suits and bomber jackets.
In addition, there were dresses, hoodies and T-shirts inspired by Brâncuși’s sketching process, featuring playful abstract faces in all-over prints, for a streetstyle feel to the collection.
“The collection is decorated and ornamented, extravagant and eclectic, without compromising the overarching signatures of Munthe’s design - quality, comfort and functionality,” explained the Scandinavian brand, which has stores in Denmark and Norway.
“This collection feels personal. It always does, but maybe this one feels different because it marks 10 years of Ganni for Nicolaj and me,” explains Ditte Reffstrup, Ganni creative director in the show notes. “It means so much to see how women all over the world connect to what we do. I don’t think we ever really dared to believe it would come this far, expanding globally with stores opening in the US and everywhere.”
For spring/summer 2020, Ganni celebrated its 10th year with a return to the venue of its SS15 show, the tennis court of the Hotel Mercur in Copenhagen, as it continued to explore the boundaries of masculine-feminine dressing that began in its pre-spring collection - “it’s femininity your own way. Each to their own,” added the Danish fashion label.
Menswear inspired tailoring is showcased alongside feminine silhouettes, with Broderie Anglaise, bodycon and cut-outs, all “communicating strength and power” in the upbeat and confident collection. While the tailoring has a ‘70s vibe, with Prince of Wales check blazer teamed with matching pleated pants or short scallop-hem skirts, while thrift store inspired ‘90s Pulp cool creeps into the knitted cardigans and jumpers with crystal flower buttons and detailing.
There are also variations on Ganni’s signature wrap printed dress, with square necklines, three-quarter sleeves and ruching detail down the entire body with cut-outs and a new piercing-like pin detail, which were showcased in a lilac-and-white rose motif, a posy-printed mint-green satin and an animal print.
Reffstrup, added: "I’ve been thinking a lot about the core of Ganni. Not in a branding way, but about why we started – the heart of it. In the studio, they’ve been joking that this is my therapy collection.
“In today’s world, there’s so much female confidence but still so much unfinished business. I’m a mother of two girls who’ll be women in the world soon, so it’s on my mind. What we do is all about making women feel like they are capable of anything. Ganni is a state of mind more than anything, it’s about making women feel comfortable in their own skin.”
Main Image: courtesy of Cecilie Bahnsen SS20