MILAN — “Commercial is not a dirty word,” said fashion communication and marketing veteran Leslie Johnsen, talking about the idea behind Muuse Projects, the Copenhagen, Denmark-based brand she’s joined as creative director.
Founded two years ago by David Dencker and Gitte Jonsdatter under the name Muuse, the fashion label, which was subjected to a re-branding last year, was born with the goal of supporting talented young designers, scouted at international fashion schools, enabling them to gain concrete experience in the fashion industry.
“Most of the designers graduating from fashion schools have no experience in the fashion industry,” said Johnsen, highlighting that 75 percent of fashion design’s students don’t go any further in the business after graduation. “We want to give people a real opportunity,” she added, explaining that each season, the company chooses a number of up-and-coming designers, each of them focused on a different product category, who are asked to conceive a certain number of pieces following the guidelines the company provides.
“My role is to orchestrate these young people” — the designers are all under 30, Johnsen said. For the fall 2015 collection, which is going to make its debut in Paris during the couture shows, Muuse Projects enrolled 11 designers from eight countries, who realized 82 styles. To simplify the creation of the collections, starting from next spring, the number of designers involved will be cut down to seven. In order to give them solid support, Muuse Projects, which is backed by the same board as the Pandora jewelry label, guarantees them royalties from sales of the pieces they design.
Positioned in the advanced contemporary segment of the market, Muuse Projects offers a range of pieces made in Europe — in particular, outerwear, shoes and knitwear are manufactured in Italy. In keeping with its positioning, the brand retails at prices ranging from 165 euros, or $206 at current exchange, for a jersey top, to 1,260 euros, or $1,572, for a parka.
For fall, which will be presented in Paris on Jan. 26, Muuse Projects chose Taiwanese designer Huang Ting-Yun, known as Bubble, who created 14 pieces, including high-end outerwear and sophisticated tailored numbers, along with Italian Claudia Gamba, who realized five jersey styles. The list of designers also includes Brit Jaimee Mckenna, who focused on knitwear; American Lily Standefer, who designed the first shoes to be introduced in a Muuse Projects collection, as well as ready-to-wear designer Melitta Baumeister, who last year presented her own collection at New York Fashion Week.
Muuse Projects collections are sold in 25 multibrand stores in Scandinavia, but the company’s goal is to sell the collection internationally, including in the U.S., Johnsen said.