7 Runway Favorites from Copenhagen Fashion Week SS23
Last week, Copenhagen Fashion Week brought together a slew of incredible designers who showcased a stunning array of looks that went beyond the expected “Copencore” aesthetic. Here are some my favorites — including both established names and bright new talents.
Photography by James Cochrane.
Copenhagen Fashion Week — one of Scandinavia’s most fashionable events — just wrapped up last week. The three-day schedule of shows re-energized the fashion community with enough Scandi style to last us a long time. But this year, the quintessential minimalist-chic aesthetic associated with Nordic fashion looked a little different. Forget subtle; brands sent down collections that felt colorful, playful and full of life. Many capitalized on the 00s nostalgia sweeping the world, leaning into the era’s cheeky maximalism and self-expression.
But of course, it went beyond that. Scandinavian darling Ganni presented a free-wheeling collection chock-full of denim, bold color and cowboy boots; models pedaling bikes debuted these looks on a pier covered in chalk art. (Di)vision presented a collection that felt gritty, raw and decidedly different from any stereotypes about Nordic fashion. Baum und Pferdgarten decided to ease up on prints and dive head-first into color-blocking, and ROTATE wrapped up the season with a blast of party-inspired lineup full of glamorous, shimmery dresses.
But the bigger — and more important — common thread here was these brand’s commitment to sustainability. Copenhagen Fashion Week, after all, has always been ahead of the curve in that department, making it an ethical pillar for every designer who participates in the multi-day event (to be more specific, this involves an 18-point list of minimum sustainability requirements that every brand has to meet).
This is what makes Copenhagen Fashion Week so great, and why it’s been rising in the ranks as one of the most influential fashion weeks in the world. It’s also why Copenhagen has been on my personal bucket-list for so long. And now that I’ve had a chance to unwind and review my field notes, it’s time to reflect on those shows that truly made an impact. Let’s get started.
Taking cues from Los Angeles in the late 90s and early 00s, Gestuz’s spring-summer collection is punctuated by cargo pants, exposed thongs and midriff-baring tops. Creative director Sanne Sehested has taken the kitschy, elemental aspects of the era and refined them in a way that feels clean and purposeful. As such, everything is wearable and easy. Think: monochromatic matching sets, throw-it-on-and-go dresses and leather jackets. And the colors? Saturated and bold, with mixed-in neutrals that call back to Scandi minimalism.
What I loved most: Every item here is infinitely cool — from the silhouettes to the colors to that “it-girl” factor. But it’s also perfectly wearable and downright fun. Also noteworthy: Gestuz made a curated selection of its runway pieces available to shop right away. Coupled with its relatively approachable price point, this makes Gestuz all the more exciting to me. (Read my full review here.)
Parachutes were the inspiration behind Oslo-based Holzweiler’s spring-summer 2023 collection — its draping, swishy material, ripstop ruching, and a general, can’t-put-my-finger-on-it airiness. Gorgeous textures abound: macramé, Taiwanese rush weaving, tassels. Everything moved so freely, which felt very much in line with the collection’s title, “In Motion.” That concept unfurled so beautifully on the runway — from the day-to-night nature-inspired soundscape created by producer and DJ Yves Tomas to the movement choreographed by director Yagamoto. It’s safe to say: The show took storytelling to new heights.
What I loved most: I’d be remiss not to mention how Holzweiler builds looks through layering; there are so many incredible pieces here to play around and experiment with. Like, fringed harnesses, chiffon dress layered over chiffon pants, sweaters with peekaboo cutouts. The possibilities are endless. (Read my full review here.)
3. Saks Potts
More noughties vibes are found peppered through Saks Potts’ spring-summer 2023 collection. But this isn’t the 2000s pop girl version we’ve been seeing a lot of lately. Inspired by the early fashion of Mary Donaldson before she became the Crown Princess of Denmark, the line draws upon more easygoing, chic trends that still have a soft power about them. It feels very much like a sartorial trip down memory lane; fringed belts that hold nothing, long tunics layered over pants and low-waisted, baggy silhouettes. Fans of the brand’s earlier self — think specifically: its bright, fur-trimmed outerwear — will enjoy the collection’s pink sequined pieces, copper lamé dress and gold coat.
What I loved most: I respect how the brand spoke to and about real women. Founders Barbara Potts and Catherine Saks invited friends to walk the runway, grounding Saks Potts in the actual women who wear its clothes. Also, this collection pushed that nostalgia button for me more than most. It reminded me of that wonderful time I personally started experimenting with clothes and styling; I’m sure others can relate, too. (Read my full review here.)
For its first-ever runway show, OpéraSPORT drew on the idea of contrasts: Co-founders Awa Malina Stelter’s and Stephanie Gundelach’s life in separate cities (Copenhagen and Paris) and the balancing act of motherhood (its joys and challenges.) With that in mind, the collection was a lesson in contradictions — a juxtaposition of structured to soft and heavy to light. You’ll find some both tailored and sporty pieces, like a sweatpants-and-stretchy-top combo, worn with a long vegan leather coat, echoing our impulse for more ease and comfort. This particular look was modeled by British model Alva Claire, who collaborated on some pieces for the brand. But you’ll also find some great date-night attire: easy dresses, tailored pants and a splatter of denim.
What I loved most: The collection is chock-full of wearable, approachable clothes, ranging from sizes XS to 2XL — OpéraSPORT definitely has the everyday woman in mind. Also noteworthy: a lovely print of a madonna with child rendered in the form of a top, shirt and tunic.
Enter the magical world of Helmstedt! A place where imagination runs amok, characters sprout out of storybooks and colorful beetles crawl their way through the Royal Danish Hall. It’s a spectacular universe, one that allows us to revisit fairy tales that stirred our fantasies and filled us with joy as kids. Despite founder Emilie Helmstedt’s whimsy — which is something she imbues into every collection — this one feels a little more grown-up. A few shifts take place: less pastel-like palette and more punchy hues; less simple, cutesy constructions and more sexy silhouettes. Think: skin-baring cutouts, slip dresses and asymmetrical swimwear. “The trend right now is super ’90s and G-strings and we are not about that,” Helmstedt told Vogue, ‘but [we] just tried to tap in a bit into that mood. I think it’s fun.”
What I loved most: The fact that Helmstedt never deviates from what’s in the brand’s DNA: a childlike sense of wonder, inspired by her own daughter. Despite there being less-wearable, one-off showpieces (a collage-like slip of quilted mushrooms, lily pods and snails, and a monstrous mushroom dress comes to mind), there are plenty of exciting prints, summer staples, and an incredible puffer for chillier days.
6. A. Roege Hove
It’s practically impossible to talk about knitwear at Copenhagen Fashion Week without bringing up Amalie Roege Hove, whose approach to the textile is conceptual and alluring in equal measure. For the spring-summer collection, Hove leaned deeper into the process, exploring the inter-looping of yarns, its tactility and potential. Though Hove has always been known to stay close to the body with her creations, this year, she unraveled a collection that experimented with volume and layering. Case in point: a black-and-white striped gown with a crinkled skirt that felt three-dimensional and sculpture-esque. It was arguably the pièce de résistance of the show, one that took three craftspeople several weeks to make as a single piece — without leaving the knitting machine.
What I loved most: Hove’s penchant for celebrating the body, for being unabashedly bold and daring with her constructions. These semi-sheer designs also make a good case for layering or opting for bralessness — a trend I’ve been seeing across Copenhagen Fashion Week shows and street style!
Helmed by husband-and-wife duo Ditte and Nicolaj Reffstrup, Ganni is perhaps one of the most popular names to come out of Copenhagen. That’s because it managed to tap into the essence of Scandi style and translate it into sought-after wardrobe classics. For its spring-summer 2023 show, Ganni chose the Ofelia Plads — a public space on the harbour — as its playground. Models cycled down a chalk-covered runway donning bright, joyful colors. Appropriately called “Joyride,” the show tapped into the city’s long‐lasting love affair with summer, the feeling of being carefree and unencumbered. Along with high-shine metallic pieces, everyday denim separates, laid-back dresses and lots of cowboy boots, Ganni also showcased its collaboration with sustainable outdoor clothing brand 66˚North.
What I loved most: The energy, the excitement, the beautiful colors. Ganni has a strong sense of self and an identity we know resonates with loyal customers. But it always tries to take that extra step — especially when it comes to sustainability. The collection, according to Ganni, is “97 percent responsible,” made from upcycled fabrics and recycled fibers.