Mark Kenly Domino Tan has been impressing attendees at Copenhagen Fashion Week for four seasons with his sculptural yet feminine silhouettes — a departure from the minimal style typically associated with Danish designers. The 28-year-old, who cites Cristóbal Balenciaga, Christian Dior and furniture designer Pierre Paulin among his favorite designers, is the protégé of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. He was a finalist of the H&M Design Award in 2013 and started his label soon after. WWD sat down with him following his spring 2016 show.
WWD: Crown Princess Mary of Denmark’s stylist sat front row at your show. Which of your designs does the princess wear?
Mark Kenly Domino Tan: She wore flared pants and a kimono-shaped T-shirt with an open back on several occasions. She also had this dark outfit with rusty colors from the winter collection. She has a very classic and feminine style; she aims at dressing like a modern woman but in a classic way. Right now, I am preparing custom-made outfits for her. Her stylist also pointed out pieces of the spring 2016 collection.
WWD: What were the themes of your collection?
MKDT: A few years ago in Paris [I bought] a book of drawings of ancient Rome. I brought specific elements from these architectural drawings to my design: the refined lines, the very fine spaces between the lines and the contrast between the decadent Rome and the minimalistic architecture. You see it in the long gray dress and in the lily-shaped gray skirt with a fray, almost like tassel, on the back. The combination with darker panels created this classical silhouette. In general this season, I was trying to make softer silhouettes but still structured.
WWD: Which fabrics did you use?
MKDT: I mixed technical refined textiles: metallic organza that has a beautiful crease and shininess, and twister fabrics that look almost like it’s knitted. Most of the fabrics I use are from Kvadart — they do some of our best fabrics for Danish furniture. I used sealskin for the gold jacket paired with a silver shirt. Sealskin has a real Danish story: Greenland was colonized by Denmark and there’s a close relation between the two countries. It’s the most responsible piece of fur you can work with; it makes a living for people there. Sealskin had a bad reputation mostly because of wild hunting of baby seals, but they do not hunt them in Greenland.
WWD: You used fur for accessories.
MKDT: I used mink fur leftovers for bags and earrings. It is a good way to put fur for summer. Why season it? Fur went from being functional — keeping warm — to being a luxury element. The functional aspect isn’t everything; it’s interesting to use it differently. And the important part with fur is that it’s long-lasting.
WWD: How do you think Danish design is viewed?
MKDT: Danish brands are known for being functional and sporty. We do the total opposite. We dress women who make an effort, not in a shallow way. I think there is a desire for dressing up a bit.