Saks Potts Melts Hearts at Tivoli Concert Hall during CPHFW AW23
For its Copenhagen Fashion Week autumn-winter 2023 show, Saks Potts took over the concert hall at Tivoli Gardens — Denmark’s most famous amusement park that’s been drawing generations of visitors for close to 180 years. Here’s a look inside the show, which was as much about family as it was about fashion.
Photography by James Cochrane.
It’s a little past 6 p.m. when it all begins. Quick drumbeats sharply cut through the expectant hum of the crowd. The audience — some 1,500 people — stir in their seats, craning their necks for a first look. Will the models be sashaying across the stage, from the back, or down the side aisles? But the first to make an appearance aren’t models at all; they’re a youth ensemble — the Tivoli Youth Guard — dressed in bright red jackets and white trousers. I see their towering black bearskin hats bobbing along as they line up down the middle aisle and stage of the Concert Hall at Tivoli Gardens.
The crowd stirs even more. What does Saks Potts, which has taken over one of Denmark’s largest concert halls for its autumn-winter 2023 show, have in store for us today? The space fills to the brim with an ebullient cacophony of musical instruments; we sit, listen and let it all sweep by. A baby coos from the row behind me. (A baby at a fashion show? Almost unheard of!) Between the family-friendly atmosphere, the marching band, and the setting, Saks Potts is making one thing clear: This is a show for the whole family.
Though closed this time of year, Tivoli Gardens has been one of the top attractions in Copenhagen for over a century. This is a place of fantasy; almost anyone who comes here remembers the magic. Even I have fond memories of my first visit last year: visitors rattling in spaceship‐type rides, and walking off apple-cheeked from the roller coasters. Lights twinkling in the dark. Cafes full and humming. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been here once or a million: Years roll back.
It’s no wonder then, really, that Saks Potts picked this magical center for its fall-winter show. Last season, the brand went big — and I mean, big, with over 4,000 observers watching the fashion that unfolded at Kongens Nytorv, a sprawling square in the heart of the city’s old town. It was iconic. Breathtaking even. The fashion, the energy of the crowd, the architecture. How can you top that — can you top that?
If you’re Cathrine Saks and Barbara Potts, it turns out, you can. The founders and creative directors launched the brand almost a decade ago, and over the years, it has followed the trajectory of their lives from 19-year-old best friends to new mothers. I felt this shift last year when watching their spring-summer show; the garments felt more grown-up and sophisticated. So, it’s no surprise really that this collection would follow that same evolution.
But back to the show: There’s a sudden crack of applause once the youth ensemble musicians play their last notes, and as they exit the runway, the “fashion” part of the event begins. Drawing from the palette of their uniforms, the first looks are rendered in explosive reds. A gorgeous red shearling jacket and a matching ankle-grazing skirt opens the collection, followed by another head-to-toe red set. More red follows: a perforated body-hugging suede dress, a long statement coat with matching gloves, red hoods and carpenter’s bags. Throughout, we see pops of the brand’s go-to color palettes: vivid greens and violets, set among neutrals like grays, blacks and browns.
There’s a continuation of the elevated bent the designers took on in the previous season. Think: leather pieces with metal eyelets, trusty button-downs, and maxi skirts layered over well-tailored pants. Accessories pack a punch; we see statement gloves, chunky leg warmers, and carpenter bags. This time, the signature rosette is rendered in leather and worn as a keychain-slash-card-holder that’s as practical as it is fashionable. Who needs a bag when you can wear this nifty hands-free accessory on a night out? And speaking of nights out, there were still some dashes of shine and shimmer, harkening back to the brand’s penchant for dreaming up the perfect going-out attire.
Seeing the show unfold, what I love most is that these looks are modeled by actual parents and friends of the founders. Didn’t I say earlier that this is a family affair? Moms and dads walk across the stage and down the aisle-slash-runway, holding their tots. The vibe is easy, friendly, accessible; the soundtrack is familiar. “If I could melt your heart … ” Madonna sings her 1998 ballad “Frozen” in the background as the models huddle around one another onstage, all smiles and laughter, rocking their tots on their laps and exchanging sweet glances.
Melt our hearts they did. Another explosion of hands, and a loud, ragged chorus of “wohoos” fill the concert hall. As Cathrine Saks and Barbara Potts make their way across the stage, the excitement is reignited. More cheers! More mouthed “wows” from audience members around me (and myself). Truly, the show’s a wow. It might’ve unfolded in the Tivoli Gardens, but Saks Potts certainly knocked it out of the park.