Step Inside Rolf Ekroth’s Rose-Tinted World at CPHFW SS24
Titled “Missing,” Finnish-Swedish designer Rolf Ekroth’s spring-summer show looked affectionately at the past. At Copenhagen Fashion Week 2024, he presented a collection that reflected his generations-spanning cultural heritage.
Photography by James Cochrane.
You can almost hear the commotion. The buzz of skateboards. The whir of wheels sliding on a smooth ledge. The rattle of a sloppy landing. We’re seated in The Skatepark, a world-class skating complex that’s a skater’s equivalent of Disneyland. And though there are no skateboarders careening around here today, the energy of this place is high – thanks to its bright and airy architecture, the sunlight streaming through the skylight, and the colorful street art all over its floors.
A high-voltage, high-volume soundtrack – “Thorn” by My Bloody Valentine – amps us up even more as the first model steps onto the runway, weaving his way from one side of the skatepark to the other. From afar, the head-to-toe print set looks a lot like a designer’s take on pink camouflage, but upon closer inspection, I realize this isn’t the print of disguise I know. The motifs here are flowers – roses, in particular.
To Finnish-Swedish designer Rolf Ekroth, this sentimental symbol is a lens through which he examines the past – a literal interpretation of “rose-tinted glasses” which offers a way of looking at things with renewed affection. And that’s exactly the premise of Rolf’s spring-summer 2024 show. Titled “Missing,” the collection taps into the many different interpretations of the word. A longing for the past. An absence of simple joys in the modern world. A missing piece of the puzzle.
Nostalgia and outdoor life always find their way in Rolf’s collections. “When I was a teenager I was most interested in sports,” He said in an interview a little over three years ago. “I tried everything and then by chance, when all this failed, I focused on clothing.” And by everything, he means everything – social work, psychology, professional poker. Finally, in his thirties, he found fashion and went for it. That one stuck. After graduating Helsinki’s Aalto University in 2015, Rolf immediately began earning recognition for his work; he was a finalist at the Hyères Festival and won the Designers’ Nest competition.
Technical-wear is his bread and butter. Before the term “gorpcore” – which describes the merging of outerwear and streetwear – took flight, Rolf was already dreaming up techwear-informed garments for his namesake label as well as helming the creative reigns at Terinit, a Finnish sportswear heritage brand. With every collection, he dutifully builds on the past, drawing inspiration from a different sports-related childhood memory each time: fly fishing, sailing, skiing.
For his debut collection at Copenhagen Fashion Week, once again, Rolf is looking back. This time at not just his own nostalgia but of his entire family’s — at “his parents’ memories of the delicate 1960s, and his grandparents’ yearning for a bygone yet persistently present past,” the show notes read. Rolf begins his exploration into an agrarian past with utilitarian aprons and workwear dresses – a nod to the previous generations who toiled away the hours in the countryside.
A kerchief-donning model steps out in a breezy dress covered in a gorgeous rose print. (The Babushka scarf is reminiscent of my very own grandmother’s.) A fuzzy top worn with a pair of wool tartan pants evokes the image of curly, cloudy sheepskin. The volume is particularly cranked up on outerwear; we see oversized pieces that borrow silhouettes from generation-spanning hunting jackets. Look after look, Rolf proves just how good he is at imbuing decades-long history and cultural heritage into modern garments.
‘I Never Promised You a Rose Garden.’
There’s static and noise as the soundtrack shuffles through several songs, like stations on a radio, until it lands on “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson. There’s a certain romance to everything, and nowhere is this more evident than this look: a blazer-and-pants ensemble with a rope-net overlay woven with real roses. It stuns as soon as it appears on the runway, taking the rose motif to the next level. “Wow,” the guest next to me exclaims.
Elsewhere, roses bloom significantly. On a simple knit dress. On the roomy pockets of a cardigan. On the miniature alpha-woven pendants that adorn almost every look, referencing traditional Nordic handcraft. They’re represented in the color palette; reds make a constant appearance throughout the collection, along with dusty yellows and pinks (which point to Rolf’s own nostalgia for the pastel colors of his youth). In a way, roses become that point of convergence – what ties together nostalgia across several different generations and across so many different memories.
What I love most, perhaps, is that Rolf is able to tell these multi-generational stories without losing honesty. He manages to create a collection that tugs at the heartstrings – without turning his back on the house codes that have garnered him well-deserved attention. Proving that romance and utilitarianism can comfortably coexist, he delivers a thoughtfully articulated collection – without missing a single beat.