Copenhagen Fashion Week has fast become one of the most popular emerging fashion showcases — and for good reason. The Spring 2022 edition wrapped up last week, with brands like Ganni, Cecilie Bahnsen, and Stine Goya (once again) defining the style of the city with brightly printed dresses, an abundance of cool denim, and an emphasis on volume in the form of oversized puff sleeves and dramatically cascading dresses.
Even though over the years, we’ve come to associate the Danish capital with all that is cool and effortless, Copenhagen is the site of a major aesthetic evolution right now.
“The Copenhagen fashion scene has changed a lot from when I founded the brand in 2006,” designer Stine Goya tells Refinery29. “Back then, the Scandinavian style was pretty much synonymous with minimalism — muted palettes, slick shapes, and classic finishes — but now the vibe is completely different.”
You need no further proof, that the “Copenhagen fashion scene [is] much more fascinating and vibrant,” than Stine Goya’s latest show which featured mismatched colors and even more prints. While the label has been showing a variety of patterns since its inception, the difference this season was in the intensity of hues and the way in which different prints were combined. Think: A single look featuring three abstract prints — a pastel swirl vest, a geometric-embellished sweater vest, and a skirt covered in painterly strokes. Elsewhere there were bold checkerboard knits combined with ditsy flowers.
While Goya attributes the evolution of the Scandi-chic style to the variety of different brands that have entered the scene in the last 15 years, she also points to how now, a year and a half after the pandemic ushered everyone indoors, there is “a hunger for more playful and joyous design.”
Ditte Reffstrup, one-half of the husband-wife duo behind Ganni, agrees. “The new collection is an antidote to locking down and staying home,” she says. “It’s clothes to dance in, to be seen in — slinky, silky dresses and bra tops… I think a lot of us are looking forward to dressing up again.”
We like to dress up, but we need to be practical.
Barbara Potts, Saks Potts
For this collection, the brand that has become synonymous with little leopard dresses and colorful, cutesy knitwear showed ultra-wearable pieces, with unexpected details that elevated styles beyond basics. Options like puffy elasticized straps, fishnet fabric skirts, and ruffled corset tops were mixed in with boxy shorts, crochet tops, and bodycon ruched dresses.
As the fashion world tunes into the Copenhagen scene with increasing ardor, there is little sense that the creators are looking to betray their roots. While CFW designers embraced a more dressed-up look season, the casual and uniquely Danish pairings that have long defined the style coming out of the city remained. For example, Helmstedt sent models down the runway in pretty pastels but with bare feet. Elsewhere, at the shows, influencers and the style set chose flat sandals, loafers with chunky socks, and comfy sneakers over heels. That’s an idea that recently, Cecilie Bahnsen, one of the city’s favorite household names , has been honing in on, too.
“There is a relaxed and effortless approach to fashion that I believe makes Danish style relatable and desirable to everyone,” the designer, who is known for her flouncy silhouettes, says. “The girls in the studio will pair one of our couture fil-coupe puff sleeve blouses with a pair of gray sweatpants and the Suicoke sandals, and then the next day, wear one of the gowns with a beloved pair of sneakers they have had since high school. It’s the mix of old and new, comfort and couture.”
Whereas heels and over-accessorizing with mini printed dresses was the look of the past, this season, CFW designers gravitated to minimal practically with cool details — be it fishnet textures or scrunchie-like straps seen at Ganni or the sheer polo shirts worn underneath dresses at Cecilie Bahnsen.
There is a relaxed and effortless approach that makes Danish style relatable and desirable… It’s the mix of old and new, comfort and couture.
“Copenhagen style is driven by gut instinct — and, of course, the weather. It’s really all about feeling good, pairing comfort and practicality with self-expression,” says Goya. “Copenhageners don’t shy away from risk. It is very much about mixing without necessarily matching and informed by a vibrant and active lifestyle.”
Despite a distinct evolution, there is a through line. “It’s very important with all pieces that we make, that there’s always that practical element,” says Barbara Potts, one-half of Saks Potts, known for its vibrant leather coats and holographic sets in shades of neon green and orange. “When you live in Copenhagen, you have to be present because we bicycle around and we are just too practical. We like to dress up, but we need to be practical… The typical Copenhagen girl loves to move around, be comfortable, and go places.”
There are now entire brands on the official fashion week schedule that represent those practical ideals. Take, for example, Rains, which was founded in 2012. Like the name suggests, all items are rainproof. “True functionality is rooted in logic and simplicity. And our minimal and functional designs reflect those values,” explains the Danish brand’s head of design Tanne Vinter. “Ask many around the world to describe the Scandi aesthetic, and most will mention clean lines and pared-back colors. But today, Copenhageners play with those archetypes and create very individual looks.”
Copenhagen style is driven by gut instinct — and the weather.
Like the new collections shown at the latest Copenhagen Fashion Week would suggest, the new aesthetic is a mixture of cool basics that are as wearable are they as functional, with high-fashion twists that make them feel more dressed up than your regular comfort wear.
“The Copenhagen aesthetic embodies the utilitarian and comfort that our garments encapsulate,” says Bahnsen. “There is the handcrafted detailing and couture fabrics, but, when Monday comes around, we still throw on these dresses with an old pair of tennis shoes, jump on our bikes, and tie up the side of the gown with a hair tie so it doesn’t get caught in the spokes of the wheel.”
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