If Swedish fashion has an ambassador, it’s Filippa K. Launched in 1993, the line—known for its pared-down, modernist silhouettes—is now carried at more than 750 retailers worldwide. “We have always had the same base, the same soul,” explains co-founder Karin Segerblom, shouting to be heard above the crowd at a Stockholm art gallery where the fall/winter men’s presentation has just wrapped up. “We start with good-quality materials and then take away all the details.” That luxe simplicity is Filippa K’s signature. The fall/winter women’s collection, which features pencil skirts and tailored camel coats, includes a boho twist: poncho sweaters paired with cuffed trousers. Wearability is a perennial consideration. “We focus on the fit and shape, and we try on everything,” says Segerblom. “We think about the needs for life. If you’re going to a party, what do you want to wear? How do you want to feel in your clothes?”
“I tend not to make cute or girlie clothes,” explains Ann-Sofie Back. “I like to provoke.” Charged with overseeing three different collections, Back might be the hardest-working provocateur in Swedish fashion. She made her name with an eponymous line of minimalist separates—sleek suits and sculptural skirts— and now she counts Lykke Li, Rihanna and Noomi Rapace among her fans. In 2005, she launched BACK by Ann-Sofie Back, a diffusion line. Back’s latest gig is creative director of Cheap Monday, Sweden’s most popular clothing export after H&M. Known for its affordable, fashion-forward denim, Cheap Monday recently branched out into underwear and footwear. (Founder Örjan Andersson oversees the denim, while Back handles the other design duties.) For fall, Back was inspired by technology and “what happens when it overtakes you,” resulting in an array of rubberized sweatshirts and sheer skirts with exposed seams. “It’s an interesting challenge to build a collection around denim,” says Back in the brand’s submarine-like Stockholm studio, “but my constant is always the same: I design for strong, intelligent women.”
Image courtesy of Felix Oppenheim (Konstnärbaren)
Browse the racks at Jus (jus.se), a chic industrial space that showcases designers like Rick Owens and NAKKNA. “Jus is my favourite spot in the city,” says designer Diana Orving. “It carries the best Swedish and non-Swedish brands.”
The Berns Hotel (berns.se) is just as stylish as you would expect from the headquarters of Mercedes- Benz Fashion Week Stockholm. What is surprising is how comfortable it is—think bright, airy rooms and amenities by Swedish Skincare System. Splurge and stay in the Robert Berns Suite. It’s named after the hotel’s 19th-century founder, but the vibe is totally modern: framed art posters, sleek silver lamps and even a Svenskt Tenn footstool.
An artist hangout since its 1931 opening, Konstnärsbaren (konstnarsbaren.se) is a cozy spot with rich orange murals on the walls and traditional Swedish dishes on the menu. Start with the herring served with tangy Brannvins cheese, and then soak up the fish casserole’s saffron-scented broth with some hearty sourdough bread.
Check out the Vasastan area—a design mecca with wide, leafy streets—in central Stockholm. “Vasastan has the city’s most amazing selection of vintage fashion and furniture,” says Richard Hutchinson, stylist and co-designer of The Local Firm.
Riche (riche.se) boasts one of the city’s most extensive wine lists, but it’s the crowd and decor that are the real attractions. Stockholm’s young and beautiful frequent this Parisian-inspired resto, which has polished wood floors, chandeliers twinkling from its ultra-high ceilings and the Lilla Baren, an attached bar that features local and visiting DJs.
Rent a bike and go for a spin on pastoral Longholmen Island. “I love riding through the different neighbourhoods,” says Kristian Rajnai, co-owner of the concept store Aplace. “When I’m travelling, that’s what I miss most.”
Our top 10 highlights from Stockholm’s Fall 2011 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
Whyred, for its verve and surprising wearability. Designer Roland Hjort showed painterly prints, form-fitting sheaths, tuxedo dressing and—just for fun—ankle-length accordion skirts in hot pink and black.
“Dancing Queen” remixed by the Sugarcubes at The Local Firm’s presentation of punked-up streetwear.
Hundreds of fans packed into the off-site Cheap Monday show. Standout? The red PVC mini-dresses worn over skinny jeans.
Tousled hair, dewy skin and pale-pink lips at Filippa K.
Coolest ’70s reference
Camilla Norrback’s fitted rust-coloured trenches, reminiscent of Ali MacGraw circa Love Story.
Pacman sweaters at Dr Denim.
Models at NAKKNA in avant-garde capes and grey lipstick.
Stockholm native Frida Gustavsson ruled the runways at Filippa K and Cheap Monday.
The furry tote bags and ankle booties at Hope.
Next name to know
Tailoring, volume and bold pops of colour characterize Rodebjer, the 2011 winner of ELLE Sweden’s Designer of the Year award.
For more, pick up the September issue of ELLE Canada and take a sartorial tour of Stockholm’s stylish scene.