A sense of luxury. This means many different things to each individual. When we speak of luxury in fashion, we often seek out the usual suspects; beaming global empires driven by corporate branding. For many, however, true luxury can be found in committing oneself to a cause worthwhile; call it a sense of reflective downscaling if you will. This return to the essence of the craft of fashion design is slowly gaining momentum. These are people that look at the heritage of what we wear, produce only to order and connect to their respective audience. A movement that deserves our attention, as it embraces traditional craftsmen and the sartorial knowledge of generations before us.
One of the shining beacons of this realm, simply has to be Copenhagen based studio ANNE VEST. Anne, a polite, well-spoken and sincere creator, has steadily worked on her designs away from the limelight. Her sensible approach to reworking the female silhouette, through diligence and a profound connection to her local artisans, make her work incredibly rich. I wandered up North for a short chat with Anne in her modest downtown studio about her upbringing, Parisian ateliers and the power of youth. Meet Anne!
Foundation. Anne, could you tell us about your first creative escapades?
Creativity and always keeping an open mind towards new ideas, leading to results and projects were essential in my upbringing. For me, shaping my identity in all its facets was a natural part of my upbringing, already from a very early age. Even though, I have always created my own clothes as a child, the turn of actually becoming clothes-design, came to me after having played around with architecture as a platform for my expressions for a while. Even today, I can still wonder off in my mind, sculpting an evolving thought, when observing a marvellous building or a construction that draws my attention. I remember a key moment during my time at design-school. It was here I first sensed leather and shearling, their unique texture and versatility. I was hooked and frankly have not looked back since. Albeit that ANNE VEST has now evolved so much, these fundamental materials still have my upmost affection.
Nordic-ness. Your studio is in Copenhagen. What triggers you in this town?
The studio first of all serves as a good place for reflection, as it is very quiet and away from the buzz of say Paris and New York. As a designer I am very much emotive. I like to explore, engage and understand my surroundings constantly. This process means the garments reflect my feelings of a certain time or season. They carry equal parts of Nordic serenity and urban vibes, which is not as much deliberate as they are simply inevitable. When it comes to Scandinavia, I observe the rougher climate, tough winters and crisp summers, which have led me to question the garments I craft as a second skin. Working with lush, durable and natural fabrics definitely is something Nordic.
Attention. You are very focused on selecting unique fabrics, leathers and furs. How do you find suitable fabrics and end up working with them in the atelier?
Well, indeed, in short, you have just described a very time-consuming part of the process. One must bare in mind, that designing is also very much about de-selection. When we look for new materials we work through two channels; firstly we work very close with our suppliers, who know our direction and therefore keep introducing materials, which are ANNE VEST-like. Secondly, we travel a lot to satisfy our curiosity but also to out seek new techniques and materials. Together this collides in a lengthy dialogue, during which we observe what is on the table, what speaks to me and how we can inspire the craftsman in the atelier. Their knowledge means so much to me, it is very humbling.
Hands-on. Lets explore this connection you have to the artisans, how does this dialogue unfold for each season?
When we are back in the atelier, one style may evolve from a visual reference, whereas another style might spring from the texture of a certain material. As I work from instinct and feel, I start sketching, draping and compose a piece around this image or texture. Working in the ANNE VEST atelier involves a lot of playfulness, craftsmanship and experimenting with these wonderful natural materials. In the end we have to make them work together in the collections theme. Sculpting is deeply rooted in what I do and is essential to our success. It allows you to see how various materials behave in different ways. When we get to the construction phases and sampling we experiment together until we get it right. This means I travel a lot to spend time together, often for several weeks in one go, selecting, fine-tuning, discussing and connecting.
Paris. The city you used to call home. What did you learn here and are there elements you still carry with you?
You are right, it was a part of me for a long time. I still often visit to ponder and drift away. When I first moved to Paris, I was newly educated and unspoiled, which meant I easily adapted to life over there and the swing of things. Even today, most of my work-routines and business-handling experience are quite Parisian. What kind of designer I would be if I had lived elsewhere is hard for me to say. During those years, I felt very much at home in Paris and I guess this is the reason why I stayed there for so long and still need this city so much. In Denmark creativity is king, whereas in Paris, I learned that quality provides long-term existence. In Paris, craftsmen have wonderful small factories and ateliers right inside the city limits. I loved spending time working next to these incredibly talented people and this is something I have carried with me all along the way.
Inspire. Mood boards can be a powerful source, perhaps not for design, but to gather influences and ideas. What can we find on yours?
Well, I sketch my way through the day, so I have enormous amounts of drawings and scribblings from my journeys that all make it onto my mood board. It becomes quite an eclectic collage of influences, textures, colours and shapes. As I have material samples we need to refine, or techniques from other branches we need to achieve in our materials. Furthermore, for each season, I have some carry-over styles that have to emphasize fully. I also look at imagery a lot, connecting to street style photography and urban references. I guess I am still an architect of some form.
Youthfulness. A last one, Anne, what does youth mean to you?
Youth is boldness and being unspoiled in your expression. I feed my mind with youthful impulses, but I also rest assured that my gathered experience is fundamental to be able to produce my raison d’être as the French say. So for me, youth makes you run free, but in the end it is our mental backpack that guides us, both in work and life.