Scandinavian Transfer:Wood Wood

Copenhagen-based collection Wood Wood has already made a mark on Berlin. The label’s store in Mitte, which opened in 2006, quickly reached destination status, and last July, the Ellesse by Wood Wood line was also presented in the German capital.

So Wood Wood is well prepared for a change of show cities, and with its first runway presentation here during MBFWB, hopes to tap further into the German market and add to its existing 170 retail accounts worldwide.

“A lot of people know about Wood Wood,” said Karl-Oskar Olsen, men’s wear designer and one-third of the brand’s team. “But they don’t know what the clothes actually look like.”

Those people might be surprised to see that stylistically, Wood Wood isn’t solely Scandinavian. Instead, its use of bright prints and core cotton fabrics also reflect Berlin’s design camp. “We are in between,” Olsen explained. “There is our Scandinavian aesthetic, but then we drag in lots of other stuff too, from Berlin for example, or from the States.”

Before they started work on the spring collection, Olsen and the label’s women’s wear designer, Lotte Bank Nielsen, went on a trip to Los Angeles where they found inspiration in the city and its neighboring landscapes. “City, desert, ocean — those are the three stories within the collection,” noted Bank Nielsen.

The palette includes bright, faded and earthy colors like sunset oranges or camouflage greens while prints, essential to any Wood Wood collection, bring to mind cracked dry earth, Native American-inspired patterns or racy LSD-style compositions.

“The prints are meant to reflect an escape from civilization by going into the desert,” said Brian Jensen, Wood Wood’s third partner, who is in charge of graphics.

Besides cotton, the designers are incorporating numerous silk items in women’s wear and the quality of the men’s garments has also been upgraded — and thus are a bit pricier than previous seasons. “It’s going to be more mature,” explained Bank Nielsen. So while T-shirts remain at around 20 euros ($28), silk dresses can go up to 200 euros ($288) and long coats will cost about 400 euros, or $576, next season.

— Jennifer Wiebking

Clean Living: Hien Le

Hien Le’s white-on-white business card says a lot about his stylistic leanings. Simple and elegantly contemporary, it’s also almost invisible if you don’t have good eyes. And so, in his third collection for spring 2012, one will again find darts that disappear or are transformed into a subtle pleat or fold. Or the shoulder seam on a woman’s shirt is dropped to become the back yoke. Le carefully considers the placement of every line, placket, pocket, seam or transmuted dart. And be it for men or women, they are one vision in his collection, similarities in color and detail uniting the genders.

Born in Laos, Le has been a Berliner since infancy. He caught the fashion bug as a teen after seeing a documentary about Karl Lagerfeld and has racked up a wide spectrum of experience: a three-year tailor traineeship; a year in France studying the language; a four-year fashion program at Berlin’s University of Applied Sciences, plus a year’s internship with Veronique Branquinho. After his studies, he was in sales with the edgy fashion p.r. firm Agency V.

“I was curious to see how all that works, which helps me now. But I also realized I missed doing this — fashion,” he remarked. Last year, at the age of 30, Le created his own label, something he always thought he’d first do at 40 or 50.

The buzz started almost immediately. After participating in Collect Showroom in Berlin, Le was invited to show in Zurich, and went on to Tranoï, where he wrote his first order. This season, he won a show slot through Berlin’s Start Your Own Fashion Business competition and will stage his first runway show in the MBFWB tent July 9.

Appropriately titled Third, the collection is dedicated to his grandfather, who was a men’s tailor, and takes its inspiration from family photos from the Seventies.

“People have often said ‘You’re Asian and your collection looks Asian,’ but I think not. Or perhaps they just mean the clean lines and details. But this time I decided to look at what my family was wearing and to translate those looks into now.”

His looks include his aunt’s long traditional dress, split up the sides almost to the waist, or the simple shirts and pants worn by his male relatives — all in a soft palette of beiges accented with red and pale yellow, plus Le’s black substitute — navy.

Le produces locally because he finds it important to keep “that made-in-Germany aspect.” He favors silk, even for jacket linings; Swiss cotton; silk-and-cotton blends, and Alcantara, which also push up prices, which range from 45 to 300 euros, or about $65 to $432, wholesale. But Le is a quality-versus-quantity advocate, a point of view increasingly popular with his contemporaries, he noted. He strives to make clothes that can be put away and then effortlessly worn again in 10 years.

— Melissa Drier

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