Latimmier Unfurls a Powerful Collection at Copenhagen Fashion Week AW23
For the autumn-winter 2023 edition of Copenhagen Fashion Week, Ervin Latimer, designer and founder of Finnish ready-to-wear label Latimmier, sent a powerful and deeply moving 11-look collection down an intimate runway. Here’s a look inside the show, dubbed “Interlude.”
Photography by James Cochrane
Outside, the rain is coming down at a hard slant, but inside the Finnish Cultural Institute — and specifically this unassuming, white room — it’s calm, quiet, and warm. Guests are seated in two rows alongside each wall, forming a makeshift runway, and down the center of it, is Ervin Latimer, founder of Helsinki-based ready-to-wear brand Latimmier. He’s dressed in all black — black jeans, black hoodie and hat — with worn, scuffed-up sneakers, and heavy, black-rimmed glasses. “The way that this will work today is that I’ll be sitting here, introducing each look,” he says, his voice easy and intimate.
It’s quite unusual, you might think, to see a designer address the crowd like that, especially before the show even begins. Traditionally, designers only come out for a bow at the end of a presentation following the models’ finale lap, and they disappear with the quick flare of a shooting star. But Ervin is anything but traditional — and today, we’re mentally huddled around him as though we’re at an intimate poetry reading, about to absorb his work not just by eye, but also, by ear. Everyone has fallen silent — eager, curious, ready.
That’s Ervin Latimer’s genius for you. “Our story stems from queer history and the history of queer people of color in particular and the history of gender performance,” he told Paper Magazine back in August. “It’s about creating your own space where you can be who you want to be, even though the society necessarily around you is telling you something else.” This translated to an unforgettable runway debut at Pitti Uomo last year, where Ervin sent a high-voltage collection that married drag and ballroom. And at the spring-summer edition of CPHFW, the designer tore up the quintessential male suiting and flipped it on its head with split-open shirts and separated collars.
This season, he’s changing up the rules again, challenging the way things are typically done in this industry and zeroing in on aspects of it that escape so many other designers. The key focus for this collection? “Considering why we do what we do,” he says, spinning to face one side of the room then the other. “Maybe … maybe if we do less, we could go a bit deeper.” The collection, made up of only 11 made-to-measure looks, with prints dreamed up by Swiss-Haitian artist Sasha Huber, embodies the idea that less is more — more introspective, more thoughtful, and ultimately, more meaningful.
Ervin introduces models by name first (another atypical move, but a highly appreciated one) and then delves into the details of construction. As an audience, we rarely ever get this sort of real-time insight; at fashion shows, we only observe the polished-up, finished product — never the hard work that precedes it. However, here, the thoughts that a designer often keeps in private are ejected into a public forum. That black coat, slung over the shoulder? It’s made from recycled wool, and the collar is fully removable. That sharply tailored, fully reversible blazer? It was created by bonding two layers of the recyclable wool together to achieve a boxy silhouette that held its shape. That calf-grazing wool skirt? The reason Ervin didn’t open all of its pleats was to maintain the wholeness of Sasha’s printed pattern artwork.
This is how it goes, look after look, as models walk to the soundtrack of a ticking clock and the snap-snap of cameras, their footsteps echoing in the room. Through every piece, Ervin showcases his deft handling of wool and crochet, and accessories like sock garters. One look — my favorite — features a crochet top worn over intricately tattooed skin, its free-flowing fringes draped over a pair of mustard-brown trousers with an inset black stripe running down the leg. And of course, I’d be remiss not to mention the sculptures — yes, sculptures! — designed by Sasha and made from scrap fabrics.
As the last look exits the runway, the crowd bursts into a rapturous, well-deserved applause. The show is a triumph — and not just because the collection is so expertly tailored. It’s because it’s open, honest, and generous. “The key thing that I want to say about this collection is that three months ago, I wasn’t sure if we could even make a new collection,” Ervin had confessed into the microphone earlier when introducing the show, talking about burnout amid the relentless speed of fashion.
“I’m very proud that I can show you guys a collection today, but I also made this collection as an homage to all of the young and upcoming designers out there who may be struggling, who maybe aren’t sure if they can make it,” he continued. “So if you’re here today or if you’re watching this live-stream, or if you’re watching this afterwards: I hear you. I see you. And this one is for you particularly.”