Behind the scenes at London Fashion Week Men's
Astrid Andersen, one of Copenhagen’s most compelling fashion exports, seems remarkably calm, moving between models, show producers, PRs and hairstylists like a pollinating bee on a systematic mission. In half an hour, it’s showtime.
Having established her namesake brand in 2010 straight after graduating from London’s prestigious Royal College of Art, the Copenhagen-based designer has ticked off scores of catwalk shows, which explains her cool backstage composure moments before sending out her fall/winter 2019 collection during London Fashion Week Men’s.
This season, Andersen has chosen a Bladerunner-like setting, a modernist courtyard nestled between two futuristic-looking business towers near Liverpool Street Station. What emerges on the catwalk as the show jolts to a start is something of a departure for Andersen, who focuses on menswear but also caters for women as of late. There’s an increased emphasis on pinstripe tailoring and cozy knitwear, shifting focus from the ultra-glam streetwear iterations with which she’s made her name.
More than a few of the trends currently swirling around planet fashion were conceived by Andersen years before they hit the mainstream. From the day she graduated, she’s shaken things up with her own breed of hip hop-tinged sports luxe, throwing masculine sensibilities off-kilter with mildly gender-bending elements, such as lace inserts, fur trim and floral satin.
So what’s behind the 33-year-old’s distinctive yet multi-faceted aesthetic? “Hip hop and rap music have been my main influences since I was 14, and I generally draw on the comfort-based style I grew up with, elevating and subverting this with the help of fabric and texture – each new collection always starts with the fabric,” says Andersen as we catch up with her backstage after the show.
Classic pinstripe fabric inspired the collection the models are now removing. “The material naturally lends itself to 1920s tailoring, and this resonated with us as new fashion influences trickled down to the street so easily in the 1920s, just like they do today. There isn’t the huge gap between new trends and what people wear that we had 20 years ago,” observes Andersen. “There’s an immediacy to fashion now, and everyone’s engaged, educating themselves. It’s a blessing for me to have this sort of customer.”
And what’s triggered the softer, less swaggery tendencies we’ve just witnessed on the catwalk?
“Fashion is constantly evolving and you have to progress as a designer,” says Andersen. “My new direction is a reaction to a market that has been flooded with streetwear, pushing me to offer something new, while remaining true to our DNA – positioning the tracksuit in a more tailored realm, for example.”
The tailored elements have been rendered ‘less stiff’ by complementing them with hand-painted prints, kimono silhouettes and ‘slightly grungy’ knits. Vogue’s fashion critic Luke Leitch went as far as calling it ‘hygge,’ (oh, the Brits love a bit of hygge). But there’s still plenty to covet for the likes of American rapper A$AP Ferg, one of Andersen’s most ardent fans and longstanding muse.
Astrid Andersen is part of a growing clutch of Danish designers who have established themselves globally and with enduring appeal. In her case, this, in part, owes to the fact that she completed her MA in London and launched her career there. “London really embraces the rest of the world and its many cultures – when I went to college, there were 12 different nationalities in my class,” she enthuses. “The city has defined me as a designer, giving me the courage to really pursue my own creative expression and believe in its place within the fashion landscape.”
The brand spread quickly further afield. “The first store that picked up my collection was GR8 in Japan, which was very encouraging as the Japanese really nurture and care about young designers,” she says. Soon after, Wildstyle in LA came knocking, taking the brand from one corner of the globe to another.
Aside from running her own label, Andersen was recently appointed creative director of Fila Fjeld – a new Scandi-inspired premium casualwear line from Italian heritage brand Fila.
Published: February 12, 2019