NEW YORK — After the frenzy of New York Fashion Week, a band of Swedish designers showcased their creations here last month with some diplomatic help.
Ambassador Ulf Hjertonsson, Sweden's consul general, opened his Park Avenue home and temporarily removed the first-floor furniture to display the work of Dagmar, H Fredriksson, Julian Red, Lars Andersson, Les Couleurs Nationals and Rodebjer. Editors and potential distributors mingled in the palatial space.
"It is very important for Swedish fashion designers to be appraised in the Big Apple, in the city where it counts the most in fashion," Hjertonsson told the crowd.
Max Jenny, the designer behind Les Couleurs Nationals, explained her multicultural approach: "I am Swedish, living in Copenhagen and have a company with a French name."
The name actually is not such a stretch, considering it stemmed from a Le Figaro Sixties fashion review headline for Katja of Sweden. Jenny, who had a signature furniture collection before she dove into fashion, said she grew tired of repeatedly hearing her own name. Not being trained in fashion allows her to approach design openly without any set rules, she said.
Unaccustomed to the need for self-promotion — a given in the U.S. — Jenny said she prefers to focus on the product. Wearing one of her dresses, a style that has sleeves attached to the hem, she said, "Designers produce so much that is ordinary or it looks like [Christian] Lacroix or Prada. If you are in business, you should create something new."
Another point of differentiation with the Scandinavian market is how trim New York women are, Jenny said. "I design for women who have a few extra pounds [to hide] or who have had a few children. My clothes are for bodies that have lived."
Susanne Rehnström, whose W29 showroom represents a few Swedish designers, said she was encouraged by the increased interest in the country's design. The fact that the downtown store Opening Ceremony showcased 15 Swedish lines through last month only helped the cause, she said.
Like Jenny, Andersson, a Brooklyn-based knitwear designer and W29 client, hails from the realm of home design. Curtain designer Mary Bright instilled in him a "superminimal" aesthetic that can be seen in his clothes, he said."Cash flow is always an issue. It dictates everything," Andersson said, but his sturdy work ethic helps compensate. "I'm a hard worker. I work all the time," he said. "That's why I was late tonight. I was working."
Alberta Ferretti's "Rainbow Week" sweaters are back. The designer closed her #MFW show with a few day-of-the-week sweaters, which first debuted on the catwalk last January as part of the pre-fall 2017 collection. #wwdfashion (📷: @delphineachard)