Isabelle interviews Ann-Sofie Back ahead of the Swedish Fashion exhibition at London's Fashion and Textile Museum
Opening tomorrow at Zandra Rhodes' Fashion and Textile Museum is 'Swedish Fashion: Exploring a New Identity'; stick around for a full review of the show tomorrow.
First up we have an exciting interview with one of the best-known Swedish designers, Ann-Sofie Back, who features in the FTM show. We're no strangers to her work on Catwalk Queen, and she's just gearing up for her twelfth show. I caught up with her at the exhibition to ask her about her clothes, being Swedish and her sense of humour:
You definitely have a light-hearted approach to fashion, how much is fun and humour part of your inspiration?
Growing up in 70s Stockholm when fashion was thought to be frivolous and superficial I myself have problems taking it fully seriously, I wish I could though! I have to include humour in my designs, these days I try to make it humorous AND attractive.
There is a feeling that you have a love-hate relationship with fashion, especially some of the more celebrity-orientated aspects.
Aside from your professional life as a designer how does fashion fit into your daily life?
I am the worst consumer there is, I never buy anything new, I wear my own designs and mix with 2nd hand. I have consciously started designing for myself which I didn't do before. I think the most successful womenswear designers seem to do so I thought it was worth a try. I also wear the "research" for the season ahead.
Without a history of haute couture or catwalk fashion in Sweden do you feel freer as a designer because you don't have the burden of history on your shoulders?
I think you are absolutely right! This is strangely something I haven't thought about before but I think that makes total sense, I really am lacking in respect.
Sweden, until very recently was a very democratic and un-heirarchical society, where fashion didn't play such an important role. Were you into fashion at a young age?
I had to care about fashion from an early age because of my parents total lack of interest, I had to start checking my dad's clothes in the morning by the age of 7 so I wouldn't have to be ashamed of him. So for me, shame and fashion are intertwined in a strange way. By the time I was 14-15 I worked every weekend in a hotdog stand to shop for Gaultier clothes in the one shop in Stockholm carrying his designs. I was a punk by the age of 11 but soon realised that subcultures are as restrictive as "normal" society and I soon gave it up and have always had a problem with the herd mentality of belonging to any "groups". I really enjoy it when people look at me and can't work out what to think or how to approach me, I like to confuse them and myself I think.
One of the designers who you seem most similar to is Martin Margiela do you agree and what do you think of his work?
Yes and no, he is probably the only designer I keep on liking. I think I am more light-hearted and less intellectual than him. I'm probably completely wrong but I see him as very serious...
Can you tell us a little about what to expect from your London Fashion Week collection?
We have looked at the American stereotypes of horror movies like Poltergeist, Friday 13th, Halloween and so on. It is a really nice collection, a bit more masculine than my past 3 seasons. Lots of slashed, dripping and nightmare clothes...
[Image: Tim Griffiths]