Copenhagen Fashion Week is underway and the event in the Danish capital has for a number of years now been an essential source of early inspiration for the forthcoming season given that it falls just before the “Big Four” of New York, London, Milan and Paris, and also because the Scandinavian labels have proven themselves to be adept at producing directional yet commercial looks.
One of the biggest labels to show in Copenhagen is By Malene Birger, originally founded by the designer of the same name and now under the creative direction of Christina Exsteen. The label is stocked by some of the best multi-brand retailers in fashion, including Net-A-Porter.com, Selfridges and Fenwick, as well as via its own website and stores. As such it’s one of the most watched labels of the week.
For SS18 Exsteen took her inspiration from São Paolo, a city, which she admits, takes time to fall in love with. “I don’t think it’s a love-at-first-sight city. It’s so big and there is a lot of concrete. But then you discover an artists’ neighbourhood, where they have painted murals on the sidewalk, and something clicks. It’s a city that gets under your skin – full of contrasts and lush rainforest. Everything feels so new and inspiring,” she says.
And one of the key trends Exsteen presented may not look like an instant hit either, but so compelling is the case that she makes for summer leather and vinyl (in unapologetic black or the darkest of navy blue) that we are likely to see it employed widely across the high street come next spring.
The shiny black/dark blue provided the perfect foil to the bright patterned dresses and skirts (the midi-length versions looked to be the most successful) and soft tailoring on show; the modernist São Paolo architecture versus the colourful artists’ murals if you will. However it felt far from austere as it was realised in soft shapes – such as the belted trench which opened the show to the flowing tunics, high-waist shorts and a floor length maxi skirt – and offset with earthy toned companion pieces and friendlier accessories.
Take note of these accessories here too, such as the colourful plaited tie belts, the printed snake skin bucket bags decorated with Brazilian-inspired embellishments, and the elevated take on the string shopper (which was a breakthrough item this season); these all have the hallmarks of a key commercial update for SS18.
These accessories served to make this trend far more approachable for the spring/summer season but given that the UK, at least, has sat under a rain cloud for most of August, is a water-repelling trend such a bad idea for summer anyway?
For those wanting to steal an early march on next season’s trends, part of collection was see now, buy now and is already available on the brand’s website, including one of the leather pieces (a strappy top), high waisted khaki trousers, dresses and accessories.