Stamm Tilts Toward the Cosmos at Copenhagen Fashion Week AW23
For her debut collection at Copenhagen Fashion Week AW23, Elisabet Stamm plucked inspiration from the cosmos, showcasing a collection that’s equal parts cool and sustainable. Here is the play-by-play of the show, which took place on the first day of CPHFW.
Photography by James Cochrane.
It’s cold here in Copenhagen. A halfhearted shower has lent every surface of the city a shiny, wet glean. The air is crisp, and the wind-chill factor feels like an unacceptable number of degrees below zero. I shiver and rattle my bones from the minute I step out of the cab and make a dash for the terracotta brick building of the Lokomotivværkstedet – a 100-year-old train repair shop that’s playing host to a few shows during Copenhagen Fashion Week. Today, I’m here to see Stamm, a newcomer to the biannual event that has particularly caught my eye with its fresh spin on outerwear and creative craftsmanship.
The runway — dreamed up in silvers and yellows — is nestled inside the massively sprawling space of the venue, and it snakes around like a square-shaped labyrinth. Above, a large-scale screen projects an alien head bobbing through space. Beep-boop, beep-boop. An interstellar soundscape, produced by Berlin-based Patrick Hussain, swells through the air as the first model steps onto the reflective metallic runway. He’s clad in a black, knee-length leather skirt, a backpack full of pendulous lobster claws (a type of plant with fantastical, paddle-like flowers) slung over his shoulder. He wanders; it’s as if he’s been cut loose from his home planet and has just made an unplanned landing on earth.
I’m immersed in the narrative almost immediately.
You see, if there’s anything founder and designer Elisabet Stamm is good — no, great — at, it’s storytelling.
Yes, Stamm is young — about a year old. However, Elisabet has had practice with A.A.Spectrum, a streetwear label she helmed before launching her eponymous brand with the intention of making it more her own. This meant a bigger emphasis on her globetrotting days; even though she is based in Copenhagen, when it comes to her designs, Elisabet makes a conscious effort to look globally for influence. “Exchange,” thus, became a continuation of the brand’s name.
“Unity is key,” Elisabet said in the show notes. “The value of believing that we are all more alike than unalike. The wish to break boundaries, by working across countries and borders. We need humanity and connection. Being connected not only to a community of like minded people, but to oneself.”
Stamm’s brand name, along with an alien head illustration by artist Mansi Singh made several appearances throughout the show, solidifying the label’s interest in an “exchange” of ideas with other creatives.
It’s a philosophy that has certainly served her well — this crisscrossing of ideas, energy, expression. Her design language feels like an open dialogue, lending her garments a certain freshness. They’re cool, funky, and gender-fluid. Every piece offers the wearer a million ways to experiment with it. “I wish to let people see my vision while they also sense their own as that is the kind of fashion I like,” Elisabet said in the show notes. “One that invites and brings excitement to bring yourself, and not one that determines a one way rule of how to dress, or how to be and belong.”
Puffers in particular welcome experimentation, but there’s no surprise there. Elisabet has always had a way with functional wear. In this collection, outerwear is hyperbolized and larger than life. They swallow the wearer and cocoon them. The showstopper: a plump, eggshell-white cropped down jacket made from recycled ripstop, layered underneath a leather vest created from leftover production patches. The exclamation point of the outfit is of course the organic denim skirt, which trails and drags with swashbuckling romance. It’s a quick-witted take on winter wear, and I love its alien playfulness.
But Elisabet also takes her penchant for volume and turns it toward easier, looser pieces. I particularly love how she is able to balance delicate fabrics like lace and organza with more technical pieces. The look I’m referencing: a primrose-pink lace belted skirt worn over paneled leather pants. It’s an unusual combination, like discovering two flavors you would’ve never thought to stir together. In another kinetic look, a long, floor-grazing organza skirt swooshes across the runway, paired with an upcycled leather jacket and pocket apron.
This play on opposites comes naturally to Elisabet. She has always put dualism at the heart of the brand, ping-ponging disparate concepts back and forth: softness and hardness, power and sensitivity, composure and dynamism, streetwear and couture. This is key to almost every look, but so is something else: a deep regard and a commitment to making good use of every crumb and morsel of fabric.
This is why Elisabet snagged the highly coveted Zalando Sustainability Award, which supports and rewards designers’ commitment to environmentally friendly practices in an industry known for abundant waste. Throughout the collection, we see this put into practice in patchwork leather pieces collaged from recycled lamb leather and plush down coats realized in Indian Khadi, a heritage textile handspun with organic cotton. So, if you’re wondering what sustainable fashion’s future might look like, Stamm will help you imagine.