Published July 5, 2012
Sævar Markús Óskarsson’s first line, a small collection of silk accessories inspired by Romanian folklore, sold out in a fortnight. Now he’s getting ready to debut his men’s and women’s wear collections this fall, which feature androgynously tailored pieces mixed with silk dresses for women and printed shirts with detailed patterns for men. We met the fashion designer at his studio on Laugavegur to find out more about this work and how his background as an artist shapes his designs.
You studied art before going into fashion?
Yes, I originally studied art and art history. However, I became interested in fashion when I went to Paris to work with a group of visual artists. They were doing a lot of multimedia art and some performances, and I was making costumes. It was really through collaboration with the fashion house Agnés B, when I was working in their space and going through their fabric collection, that I really decided to go into fashion.
Does your background in art come into play when you’re designing?
It does, as my field of interest is so broad. I really enjoy researching and finding inspiration from a wide variety of sources, such as literature, antiques, art or films. I like grabbing bits from here and there, like a moment in a film, just a few seconds, that makes you go, ‘Wow, that’s something.’ In the end all this research comes together in a big database that I can then work from.
Did something in particular inspire your new fall/winter collection?
I was inspired by Art Brut, where artists that may not be traditionally educated often work from a naïve perspective. I was also deeply inspired by Czech and British new wave films from the ’60s.
The cut of the garments is mostly androgynous; the classic tailored pieces are sized to fit both sexes. Some things, like the dresses and ladies shirts, are extremely feminine though and are made from feminine fabric like chiffon. One dress in particular is dedicated to the singer of Broadcast, Trish Keenan, whom I’ve always felt a strong connection to.
How would you describe your design, is there a singular concept?
I would say it’s very classical, at least the cut. I like classical tailoring and want garments to be well made and cut. This collection was mostly inspired by art, but next summer I will be working with florals and Finland for example. It’s mainly classic looks, but is heavily infused with what I’m inspired by at that moment.
What’s it like to start your brand in Iceland?
The market is small and it is a lot of work. It’s expensive to import fabrics and you can, at most, hire a seamstress to help out when it’s really busy. You have a lot on your plate at any given time. But I’m just starting out, so all the work is on me at the moment. However the good thing about working here is that you can try things out, taking one step at a time. And in the end, you never know what’s going to happen!