Reykjavík’s first real fashion festival took place in March 2010, a timely event coinciding with the current surge in Icelandic design. The festival proved an ample platform for fresh young talent, drawing considerable attention from the international press. But is the Reykjavík Fashion Festival set to become the ‘Iceland Airwaves of fashion’? We spoke to one of its founders, Ásta Kristjánsdóttir, to find out more.
WHY DID YOU FOUND RFF LAST YEAR?
Following Iceland’s economic collapse there seemed to be a great awakening in the design field. Designers got together and formed a unified whole that started discussing cooperation rather than each doing their own little thing in their own little corners. We found strength in this union, and the festival proves how strongly we stand behind one another.
THE FIRST FESTIVAL WAS A SUCCESS—HOW DIFFERENT IS THIS SECOND ONE GOING TO BE?
RFF# 2 is similar to RFF# 1, with the addition of a design fair that we’re hosting this year that will take place throughout the festival weekend. On Saturday and Sunday we’ll see a designers’ ‘Pop-up market’, where local designers throw a clearance sale with up to 70% discount. It will be a venue to make exciting bargains, chat with designers, shop for new design samples and flick through older collections. At the market we’ll also be hosting cosmetic presentations and lots more. The Pop-up market will take place from noon ‘til six at Laugavegur 91 on April 2–3, and everyone is welcome. Another thing that’s a little different this year is our emphasis on inviting international press to the festival. Over fifty journalists are booked to attend the shows, with representatives from magazines like Dazed and Confused and Vogue. We obviously hope to receive favourable reviews this year, both for the designers and the festival as a whole. The festival won’t be that much different in essence, except in being much bigger with a lot more media attention.
HOW DID YOU SELECT THE DESIGNERS TAKING PART IN THE FESTIVAL?
Each year the RFF board selects seven individuals to form an artistic council that in turn select designers that they feel should take part in the festival. This year the council consists of Una Kristjánsdóttir, the designer of Royal Extreme, Hanna from Hanna Design, Eygló Margrét Lárusdóttir from Eygló, Stefán Svan, store director and stylist, Ellen Loftsdóttir, stylist, Anna Clausen, stylist and Katrín Alda from Kalda design.
NEWS HERALDS THAT ICELANDIC FINANCIAL MOGUL JÓN ÓLAFSSON HAS INVESTED IN THE FESTIVAL THIS YEAR?
Yes, Jón is an investor in the festival. He believes that the Icelandic fashion scene has a bright future and that Icelandic fashion will become one of Iceland’s greatest exports in ten years time. He has very good connections abroad that have proved useful to RFF. Jón, for example, owns the company Glacier Water, which is used for all the Christian Dior cosmetics.
DO YOU FEEL THAT RFF PLAYED A PART IN HELPING MAJOR ICELANDIC LABEL IN TAKING OFF THIS YEAR?
I’m certain of it. RFF helped to play a big part in launching designers last year and will do so again this year. Royal Extreme was invited to do a show at New York Fashion week last year and Sonja Bent got invited to do sales shows free of charge. Most of the designers taking part last year received good reviews in well known international publications. Andersen&Lauth were contacted by ASOS, Britan’s largest web store and Kalda were offered a deal with Top Shop in Britain. It will be exciting to see where RFF takes young Icelandic designers to this year round.
RECENTLY IT SEEMS ICELANDIC DESIGNERS ARE MUCH MORE CONFIDENT, LAUNCHING THEMSELVES INTO PRODUCTION. WHAT´S THE DIFFERENT NOW?
Fashion design is a young field in Iceland and only a few years ago people thought that it entailed a couple of old ladies knitting gloves somewhere in the suburbs. Now people understand that design is a huge business worldwide. RFF is an important festival for this industry so that people open their eyes to all the exciting things going on in the field in Iceland.
Labels to watch out for this year:
Fabulous rock chick pieces from newly graduated ÝR Þrastardóttir that seem to draw inspiration from everything from Bowie to techno. Fitted silk shoulder-padded patchwork jackets, slim velvet trousers and slinky sexy playsuits and dresses.
Last year’s hit were Una Kristjánsdóttir sumptuous creations that combined medieval regalness with a funky modern twist. Una’s strengths lie in the details: tassels, fringing, embroidery and a rich colour palette and it will be exciting to see what she comes up with this time round.
Kron by KronKron
A firm favourite with Iceland’s young and pretty hipsters, this new collection of candy coloured shoes, dresses and tights is set to become spring’s big thing. Even Tavi, the Style Rookie, has been spotted wearing Kron by KronKron’s rainbow hued legwear.
A cooler than thou collection for urban women that like their clothes original, yet wearable. Stunning kimono-like sheath dresses, gothic chiffon columns and bondage-inspired sixties shifts. Yummy.