Sharp Edits #Nine

...Copenhagen: the understated city that has fused modernity and tradition

by Mariel Reed
Copenhagen is the picturesque capital of European modernity. Its skyline is graced with church steeples, clock towers and modern marvels, and its people are intelligently captivating, not to mention aesthetically pleasing. Copenhagen is perfectly exemplary of the Western ideal for function and performance. Its Fashion Week is hard to beat.

I have always been captivated by Scandinavia. Here society exercises a freakishly orderly code of conduct, allowing the occasional drunk and disorderly outburst on an off day. It’s like the Western ideal for the future of civilization; as if this advanced alien race had landed in a city so deeply routed in tradition and brought it up to date without tainting the culture.

But the city has a dirty secret. Denmark’s ancient rule over Northern Europe has slowly dwindled over the past few centuries, leaving it with a minute population of fewer than 6 million people and barely enough landmass (not including Greenland) to fit into the United States 220 times. This is without a doubt why this tiny society stresses so much importance on retaining cultural values, whatever it takes. Sadly this is also why integration has become increasingly difficult for immigrants and asylum seekers.

At face value, Copenhagen’s beauty is incomparable. For some reason, everything just seems to work. Transportation, communication, location… But dig deeper and it becomes easy to see that the Danes may be clinging to old customs for fear that they might be lost forever in the mix of globalisation. I would certainly be sad to say goodbye to Sneigels and Frikadeller, but what is great about the future is finding ways to incorporate new elements; something the Danes did so well and are now re-grasping.

As for Copenhagen Fashion Week, the Danes are leading the way to success. The aliens from the future have landed once again and bring with them invention and innovation. Scandinavia’s characteristic minimal design, infused with new and old methods of construction made the week’s shows.

Wackerhaus brilliantly refreshed quilted jersey by adding a sleekly tailored silhouette to the colourfully comfortable collection. Veronica B. Vallenes’s clean lines were accented by Bjørg’s larger than life jewellery.

Henrik Vibskov’s performance was certainly a highlight for the week. After the press bus dropped a pack of fashion crazed journalists off in the middle of an industrial park, the warehouse in which he showed his collection was greeted by thousands of clomping heels, demanding shelter from the cold. This was truly a sight to see. The catwalk was lined with a Rube Goldberg type drum machine; each time a model took a step, a drum sounded. The collection itself featured an assemblage of autumn oranges and ombre bodysuits.

Other highlights included Designer's Nest, a gathering of the most talented students from across the Nordic region, which featured collections by some of the world's most exciting new designers, Anne Sofie Madsen, whose hype was well deserved, and Asger Juel Larsen, whose line has matured in a refreshing and dignified manner.

Though the tradition of Scandinavian design could not be escaped, that strange alien touch seemed to dip its toes in the fashion pool adding flair to a Fashion Week sometimes tied to uniformity.

All in all, progression, the future and a touch of the past were ever-present. The beauty of Copenhagen and its people are a perfect match for its bright Fashion Week.