My first impressions of the second Reykjavík Fashion Festival were of a well-run and well-organised event. Gone were last year’s queuing and outdoor toilet fiascos. Instead, guests piled in an organised fashion into the very spacious and very fitting setting of the Reykjavík Art Museum. With ample room for a bar and a perfect catwalk podium, this year’s RFF seemed professional at any standard.
However, rumours certainly flew high during the festival. Mostly they regarded purported discontent within the ranks of young local designers. For instance, there was the fact that business mogul Jón Ólafsson—of Iceland Water fame—had purchased the event, and in the process forcing designers to exclusively use models from his own agency, Elite. Secondly there was the fact that all partaking designers had to pay a substantial participation fee (substantial at least with regard to the limited budgets of young and struggling designers), thus possibly alienating certain designers. Despite this undercurrent of criticism (just or unjust as it may be), this second festival certainly placed Reykjavík permanently on the international fashion map proving that there is a blossoming scene in Reykjavík for bright new talent.
A DISAPPOINTING FIRST SIGHT
The first night of the festival, Friday April 1, I took my ten year old daughter along for an honest second opinion. The opening day’s shows included designers such as newcomer Vera, who featured unconvincing tulle capes, E-label, with their classic collection of black leggings and dresses and streetwear/snowboarding label Nikita. Designer Eygló was pleasing as ever, with her fabulously cut feminine silk sheaths, and Royal Extreme’s designer Una Kristjánsdóttir followed up last year‘s collection beautifully wowing the audience with a rich and luscious colour palette and beautiful attention to detail.
Sonja Bent produced a pastel-hued knitwear collection that reminded me of Marc Jacobs-style concoctions from a few years back, with the overall feeling being a little too sugary. Sruli Recht presented some interesting coats in his collection, but Forynja failed to impress me with too close of a kinship to Nü-Rave and too much bizarre detailing. My little assistant whispered half way through the Friday shows that she wasn’t overly impressed with the clothes and that the shoes were ugly. I had to agree on some level, thinking that more attention to detail and better styling would have lent the shows a more professional air.
FROM GOTH TO DISCO
Saturday’s creations were infused with a heavier dose of the WOW factor than Friday night’s offerings, with a refreshing rock and roll injection. Rey were pretty in black, Andersen and Lauth conjured up a very British feel with beautiful silk and chiffon fabrics, embroidery, Wellington boots and cashmere cardies accompanied by a Joy Division-esque soundtrack.
IMPECCABLE AND CLASSY
Kalda made me smile with their over-the-top goth show. Models wore long black sheaths with bondage elements, black Chelsea boots with black knee high socks and heavy graphic eye makeup, walking like zombies to an eerie soundtrack consisting of monks chanting over a death metal guitar riff. A beautifully austere, simple, and very wearable collection.
Newcomer Ýr gave us a heady mix of heavy metal versus disco inspired outfits, fabulous eighties style cropped silk jackets with dominant shoulder pads, skinny velvet trousers, sexy catsuits and dresses that brought a kind of Studio 54 feel to the catwalk.
GLITTER TRAINERS AND SNOW MACHINES
My all-time favourite show of the night was the flirtatious and immensely fun collection by designer Hildur Yeoman. Last year she staged a successful show that focused on accessories, but this year’s collection was far more clothing-orientated. Fabulously sassy models sashayed down the runway to ’The Runaways’ ‘Cherry Bomb’ and Alan Vega’s ‘Jukebox Babe’ wearing skin-tight bicycle shorts, chiffon bikinis, fabulous embroidered capes that spread like the wings of some glam-rock butterfly and glitter sprayed high heeled trainers. Big hair and punky make-up completed a look that was part Joan Jett and part Juliette Lewis. Hildur Yeoman certainly managed to inject the fun back into fashion.
The final show on Saturday was that of Iceland’s young wunderkind Mundi, a kind of Vibskov-esqe design-school character that has made knitted patterned jumpsuits popular for Reykjavík’s male hipster contingent. I am not a fan, but his show was pretty damn cool in every sense of the word. A snow machine dusted models wearing heavy ski boots and round pink goggles with huge fake snowflakes. A quirky take on snowboard/skiwear with lots of tech-y knits combined with white ‘Piz Buin’ lips. Sportswear meets Mad Max, or a Jeunet flick.
In retrospect, RFF 2011 was a well-organised festival that confirmed Iceland on the international fashion scene and will probably score lots of write-ups from the hoards of excited journalists attending.