Frustrated by social inequities in Europe and elsewhere, and a generation that seems to have forgotten those who forged change on the front lines, Berlin-based Danish designer Mads Dinesen decided to celebrate those fighters through fashion.
From suffragettes to gay rights activists to Russian feminist punk rockers Pussy Riot, his fall collection, dubbed “Smoke-clad Warrior,” takes protest and demonstration as inspiration. Adopting some of the signifiers — covered faces and hoods, slogan patches, badges and T-shirts — and applying his own tribal-tinged, handcrafted spin, he’s infused it all with the mystical spirituality that has become a trademark.
This will be Dinesen’s third season, and his first event on-site at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin. And there’s another first: He’ll be adding women’s wear to his men’s designs, many of which have always had unisex tendencies. RELATED STORY: Berlin Fashion Week Calendar >>
Dinesen, who comes from Copenhagen and has a background in dance, graduated from Berlin’s UDK (University of the Arts) in 2010, and went on to intern at Boudicca. He participated in Hyères in 2011 and was invited to compete in the 2012 Mango Fashion Awards, for which he was surprised to discover he had to submit a women’s wear collection. Ever resourceful, he turned the men’s wear he was working on into women’s, then transformed it once again for his well-received January 2013 off-site men’s wear presentation, which took shamanistic street musician Moondog as its starting point.
Now, Dinesen wants to use his designs to send a message more powerful than a style statement.
“I think fashion is quite a strong voice, I think there’s just not enough people using it that way,” he insisted, citing the pointed provocations of Vivienne Westwood and the more visual commentary on masculinity offered by Bernhard Willhelm.
Dinesen’s modern armor showcases inspirational slogans such as “fight the fight,” “choose your battles” and “look within” inscribed on separates and accessories. Only readable when close up, the words are embroidered tone-on-tone with pearl details adding a glam touch. Additionally, the circle shape of badges and patches encourages wearers to think about filling in the blanks.
“Some will see it as pure decoration.…Others will buy it because of the message and the visual,” he said, noting it’s not necessarily cause-specific, but supports the idea of a struggle.
In a mostly black, white and red palette with some blue, next fall’s women’s looks lean either unisex or ultrafeminine, while men’s shapes are mostly fluid. High-collared coats fasten across the body. Trousers have volume and come cropped, tapered or flowing. They’re topped with hoodies and sweaters layered with tunics in jersey or knitwear similar to oversize T-shirts, or Asian-influenced dresses with deep slits at the side.
“It’s also a little bit Nineties — I kind of liked it when women were wearing pants under these long dresses,” said Dinesen, explaining he finds the combination elegant and strong.
Materials include thin wool, linen, waxed cotton and organic silk, as well as repurposed jersey and recycled camouflage. He’s moved away from fur and leather, and uses only found feathers. Still, Dinesen doesn’t want to make green his signature color. He says he’ll go with environmentally inclined fabrics whenever he can, but not at the expense of his creative vision.
Produced in small runs and requiring copious handwork, wholesale prices start at 70 euros, or $96 at current exchange, for T-shirts, 95 euros ($130) for trousers, long sweaters at 300 euros ($413) and coats and jackets at 215 euros ($296). Pieces are currently available at The Flag in Berlin, Hong Kong’s 10thshop.com and The Unconventional in the U.K.
While his point of view is clear, Dinesen is still finding his audience. To that end, he’s using crowdsource tool IndieGogo to help fund his MBFWB show, as well as assistance from German shoe retailer Deichmann, which hosted Mads Dinesen and others in an atelier project. He will also show in his home city of Copenhagen for the first time this year.
“We can’t save the world as one person, but we can at least take a little step,” said Dinesen. This season, his will start on the MBFWB stage.
From overseeing America’s fastest-growing speciality retailers to codifying cool, WWD talked to the women who are leading the way for the future of beauty. Check out our Instagram Stories to see how these women built today and are creating tomorrow. (📸: @hannah_khymych) #wwdbeauty
For @laperlalingerie's spring 2018 show, the brand chose to host their event at @thevenetianmacao. With Chinese megastars @bingbing_fan and @hubing in attendance, La Perla debuted a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired collection. The show marked the start of Sands Macao Fashion Week, which runs from October 19 to 24 — the city’s first such event. Pictured here are models backstage with glimmering eyes. #wwdfashion (📷: Cheuk-Yin To)
Trending for spring 2018: top stitch design. Gone are the days of stitch just for seams — designers are using the once-minimal detail to create strong decorative elements. (📷: Paola Testa; Styled by @andrew_shang) #wwdfashion
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)