ELLEN PEDERSEN

 

DESIGNING BOYS

 

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ELLEN PEDERSEN AW16

 

Words by Tue Elkjær

All pictures are courtesy of Copenhagen Fashion Week

 

I met up with Danish mens wear designer ELLEN PEDERSEN, for a chat about her to latest collection and her view on gender in fashion. ELLEN PEDERSEN is a new rising star in Danish fashion and with good reason. Her style is fresh, all her own and yet has notes of 60’s MODS – but most importantly, the ELLEN PEDERSEN brand is refreshingly unlike anything else on the fashion scene.

 

Your designs seems very related to London and various Brit subcultures – it’s not the typical Danish style. Can that be credited to your time at The Royal Collage of Art, or do you simply identify more with urban British culture, than with Danish culture?

It is a combination. Before I went to RCA I found a lot of inspiration from British subculture, but it was more superficial. When I studied there, I automatically learned much more about their culture and history. I can never run from my Danishness, even though I sometimes wish I could.

 

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ELLEN PEDERSEN AW16

 

Did that influence your choice to study in Britain?

No, I went to RCA because it was the best school.

 

These days, fashion seems to be very closely related to some sort of national aesthetic – just think of Parisian chic and Nordic minimalism. But you’re a Danish designer, working with British cultural references, like the MOD-style in your AW16. Do you think these nationalistic understandings of fashion is limiting to artistic freedom, as a fashion designer?

No, fashion is about your own identity and people today are very mixed both in culture and nationality. If anyone puts national aesthetic on designers it is the media, who like to put people in boxes.

 

You’ve showcased two collections at Copenhagen Fashion Week, both very strong collections, and your latest collection, your AW16, seemed to get a lot of buzz. Where do you see yourself and the ELLEN PEDERSEN brand heading?

I am showing my third collection during CPHFW in August and I am constantly working on getting more press, in collaboration with my PR agency DECEMBER. At the same time I am pushing for stockists and working on a web shop. I am nominated for an exciting prize this year, which hopefully will help me further. My goal is to show in London and do sales in Paris – all this to become a real label and hopefully to make some money one day.

 

In a historic context, male designers dressing women, has been the norm since the European industrialization – it’s practically a cultural cliché. As a female designer, that dresses men, what are your thoughts on gender roles in the fashion industry?

I don’t think gender roles exist in the fashion industry anymore.

 

But even today, fashion seems to be very dominated by mainly male designers and a mainly female clientele. What are your thoughts about designers dressing an other gender, than their own? Do you think it affects the design or the end products?

Maybe it breaks the rules a little. I of cause cannot think, “I would wear that” because it is for boys, so I have to use my imagination, which is good.

 

How do you relate to your consumers, during the design process? Who do you imagine your designing for, who’ll be wearing your clothes?

Yes, this is a very important factor for me. I always have to visualize the clothes on my boy; if I don’t see it, possibly I wont continue on the garment or the look. I am not a boy, and I have to ask some boys once in a while if they would wear it.

 

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ELLEN PEDERSEN AW16

 

Could you tell us something about your process or way of thinking about design?

I often start with a very basic garment, which I then cut into and combine with different material. It creates ideas and new shapes for me, which I work out from. When coming to the making part of the garment, it is essential for me that the garments are well made and have a high–end quality.

 

Have you randomly seen a stranger wearing your clothes and how did you react?

One day on Instagram, I noticed Olly Alexander from Years and Years had worn my shorts from SS16 at Coachella – it made me very happy!

 

There’s not really anything in your collections that’s decidedly casual or formal wear, every look seems to be both dressy and relaxed. How do you view the distinction between the casual and the formal – how do you view dressing-for-the-occasion, is it obsolete?

No. Many still do that. I like to combine it, because I like the very rigid menswear items like button-up shirts and tailored trousers – but it gives me a new layer when adding sportswear/casual items together with it.

 

Was design always the natural thing for you to do, or did you kind of just stumbled into it?

Totally natural, I have known, since I was 12, that I wanted to be a fashion designer. Before that I wanted to work with whales (mainly because of “Free Willy”)

 

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ELLEN PEDERSEN AW16

 

What about your childhood, was it fashion fabulous?

Not at all – I am from a farm, and clothes were very practical. But I have a very creative grandmother, who taught be how to sew and make clothes. But fashion fabulous is probably an exaggeration.

 

How does working in fashion affect your private life?

Being self-employed makes my life very flexible, but of cause I work a lot and always think about what- and when to do. I am very happy that my boyfriend is not in the fashion industry, because then we can talk about something else and he puts things in perspective.

 

How do you see your life going, do you have it all planned out or any specific aspirations?

I wish I had it all planed, but unfortunately that is not possible anyway.

 

If you or anyone else wrote a biography for you, at the end of your life, what do you think it should be called?

No idea.

 

For more info on ELLEN PEDERSEN and her work, you can go to her webpage, Facebook or Instagram.