Reykjavík Fashion Festival 2014 showed that Icelanders are finally serious about their stuff
Reykjavík Fashion Festival is in its fifth year and has been a fantastically worthwhile, if ambitious, project for a country with only 330,000 people and one fashion college (Fashion Academy Reykjavík). It’s a long, long journey for those students who graduate, those who have the courage to struggle against all odds, find funding and, hopefully, go abroad to gain experience with international fashion houses—something that I think is extremely necessary in the field. Here are some of the highlights of the festival this year:
Elínrós Líndal’s collection designed by Katrín Káradóttir—has enjoyed huge success on the Icelandic market with high quality dresses, mostly in black and beige, which are extremely flattering, versatile, sexy and wearable for women of all ages. Her collection for Autumn/Winter 2014 revealed a rather different side, focusing on beautifully cut cashmere coats in wider silhouettes in hues of navy, soft green and beige and reminiscent of the ‘40s and ‘50s. “We wanted to show that we can do more than dresses and also broaden our target audience here locally,” Elínrós said. “Dresses come really easily for us so we wanted to show something different.” One such outstanding piece was a brown leather bomber jacket that exuded expensive quality and was reminiscent of the classic pieces of French high-luxe fashion house Hérmes.
This quality local label takes its inspiration from traditional Icelandic materials and styles, using Icelandic wool and casual country styles to develop the ultimate in chic designs. It has definitely made an outstanding mark for itself in recent years, with sales among tourists, for example, rising enormously. Every show the designers present stays true to the brand’s calling—they do not follow any trends but create a unique and enchanting atmosphere with wonderfully subdued colours, great attention to detail and a very wearable collection.
Cintamani is one of Iceland‘s most prominent outdoor labels and I did wonder whether its pieces fit in with high-fashion ones. But the collection was obviously loaded with quality: bright touches of colour and inspiration from the Icelandic countryside. Being a minimalist, I wasn’t as enchanted by these flourishes, but the styling of the whole show was beautiful and well-executed.
Guðmundur Jörundsson’s collection was the grand finale of RFF this year. He is Iceland’s fashion wunderkind and his show attracted a huge crowd, all waiting with anticipation for what he would offer up next. In the stunning smoked-filled production, I felt I was watching some sort of ‘zombie Goth rock star goes to a rave’ experience. Decadence and heavy metal were the key words. The collection was dramatic with gold belts and long silhouettes for women, and patterned coats and jackets for men. A very surprising and totally new look from JÖR, and I have to give particular praise to his co-worker and stylist Hrafnhildur Hólmgeirsdóttir for her extraordinary styling.
REY’s latest collection was stunning to say the least, and in keeping with designer Rebekka Jónsdóttir’s very feminine style. The models reminded me of Hollywood in the ‘50s, and standout pieces included stunningly cut dresses, catsuits, knitwear and trouser suits. Beautifully wearable and sexy.
The Ziska collection presented by designer Harpa Einarsdóttir started with the most stunning video feature of the whole festival—an epic black and white film showing Icelandic horses charging through the desert and featuring models dressed in a Mongolian style. Her collection seemed inspired by all things fantastical and ethnic, with beautiful prints, jewellery, and touches of leather, blending futuristic and vintage influences. The standout piece was a floor-length white leather dress.
There’s been a lot of talk about the brand new label of Sigríður María Sigurjónsdóttir, who premiered her collection at this year’s RFF. The retro and almost masculine-looking models reminded me of French starlets from the ‘20s, which is not surprising, as Sigga has stated that she takes inspiration from the surrealist movement. The collection was an ensemble of exquisite and beautifully patterned silk prints in blues and reds with dashes of black leather. The most stunning pieces included a long red chinoiserie-inspired dress and a backless, black knee-length draped dress. All this was framed by the music of Broadcast and Clinic, which made me fall even more in love with the collection.
Magnea, a newcomer on the scene, had a spectacular stage set with netted drapes and neon lighting. The collection was comprised of beautiful knitwear with touches of metal, in hues of grey, black and burgundy as well as a variety of avant-garde hats. A very elegant and wearable collection pushing knitwear to the foreground.
All in all, it was a memorable festival. If, however, RFF could possibly rethink next year to have shows running simultaneously in more than one hall at Harpa, it would help those suffering fashionistas who have nothing to do between shows except yawn, drink the free bottled water and admire the architecture of the building. If there is a benefit to all that down time, however, it’s that there’s plenty of opportunity to reflect on each show.