“If you build it he will come” seems attuned to the Jean//phillip philosophy of fashion design. His designs and his attitude escape the mold as he sheds little interest in exploiting the Danish nor Scandinavian look, being a Dane himself. His approach to each piece is like that of a layered canvas. Viewers may not get dramatic variations on his collection from season to season, but one certainly can’t avoid his obvious diversion from his fellow Nordics. His pieces tease men and fondle the female form with their contours. As a menswear staple, he caters to layers and wraps as warmth is a look you can’t neglect in Nordic style, fashionable or not. His Spring 2011 collection abolished symmetry entirely leaving models looking bandaged, almost sacredly adorned with a middle eastern flair. His Spring/Summer 2012 collection revisits this look of luxury rags, a clean cut man at a disarray with his wardrobe.
Combining tailored black wool shorts with elongated T-shirts, Jean//phillip exaggerates distressed details like threads hanging from jacket tails and holes evocative of cigarette burns. Wool, jersey, coated fabrics, leather pieces and elastics all made an appearance this year during Copenhagen fashion week. Each outfit was accompanied by a customized shoe corresponding with the materials presented in the top pieces, somewhat reminiscent of Lanvin’s 2010 summer shoe collection.
This designer du jour and a, 10-year veteran of Danish design, is among the Danes best associated along the lines of a simple rebel. His signature folds and stitching cast congruent angles upon blacks and greys. After carefully examining the effort gone into to an effortless look and what seemed astray from a Scandinavian design standard, there was more to discover.
It would be a stretch to claim that fashion news increasingly covers the look of the Danes. Furniture, bikes, decor sure. Fashion? Perhaps for the off-radar profile they posses mystery and subterranean appeal. The vast, hermetic and very boreal land mass in Europe is Scandinavian fashion and they have it together. No two alike, the Nordic folk share a style different from the fashion scenes in Europe, the US and Asia.
If you are from Finland, Denmark, Sweden or Norway you probably get it. If you’re not, you may consider tuning in if you haven’t already. With their distinct physical features and sharp tribal demeanour, they silently compete amongst each other without bitterness and with a common alignment to useful, awkward, even outlandish design, unlike the more traditional French or Italian designs. The recent history of Scandinavian fashion traces patterns in simple wools and cashmeres, adhering to strict climate conditions. Their refined production (often of green mentality and refined technology) is constant. Garments are most commonly set apart from one another by infusing bold colours. Colours offset the darkness of cold climate, and with few complicated patterns the colours stand alone clean, vibrant, warm. Scandinavian design, from fashion to furniture is recognized as effortlessly luxurious.
Even if the product falls short on quality (IKEA) or longevity (TETRA PAK), they manage to uphold cleanliness and minimalism preserving the affluent look. Their meticulous fashion designers continue to deliver what outsiders view as the essence of flawless design, Northern European calibre. This year couture glitzed near the Arctic bringing several accomplished designers to light during the Copenhagen and Stockholm fashion weeks. Swedish designer Camilla Norrback presented a classic native collection. Pushing eco-luxury she splashed her winter wools with yellows and purples for Winter 2012. Finnish eco-guru Finolso presented his last collection (Spring 2010) adhering to milky tones, few patterns and strokes of periwinkle and orange. Still more relevant to Scandinavian design is arguably Henrik Vibskov who explicitly highlights a love for colour while emphasizing the otherworldliness of the northern planet headspace. Vibskov’s 2011 Autumn collection loudly turns up nothing short of cultural yet borderless. Silas Adler, flaunted his line Soulland, pronouncing with careful detail the aesthetics of Scandinavian design directed towards the accessory.
Noteworthy Danes on the fashion front include Annhagen, Stine Goya (partnered with Urban Outfitters, 2009), Baum und Pfergarten, David Andersen, and Malene Birger (MTV Queen of Fashion). Consider these labels D-marked: Danish-approved for clean, colourful and regional, veering far enough off the ready-to-wear path to cozy up under high-brow Nordic fashion. These trained and talented pattern-makers and model-movers have perfected the art of buttoning up and boxing in the blondes and beaus for delicacy North of Prada and Dior. Then there is Jean//phillip. His work evolves uncategorically as he passively breaks the rules, pouring his ideas out of the closet in an untitled manner. Meet Jean//phillip.
AG: S/S 2012 – The clothing in detail reveals unfinished elements, and pieces are very raw. Why this look? What are the key fabrics? JP: The Concept for this collection was to make something that had craftsmanship but seemed worn through life. We used a lot of different types of linen to finish the garments, and then washed them afterwards; As linen reacts very negatively to water, it wrinkles and molds, we achieved just the look we wanted. In addition to linen we used lamb leather, cashmere, summer wool, and enzyme washed cottons.
AG: Were you pleased with the outcome of your S/S collection and overall presentation? JP: As a designer you´re always pleased with a new outcome, so I am very pleased with how the collection came out as this is the closest I have ever been to the look Jean//Phillip stands for as a brand: clean, raw, and fitted/crafted with a relaxed day wear tone. The presentation was seven minutes packed, tight and relevant, just how I like it.
AG: Who are some of your competitors in the Danish market? JP: There is no competition in Denmark when it comes to the market. Jean//phillip is a very “undanish” brand, as Danish design is more about colours and fun prints. Therefore, in DK our segment stands alone.
AG: How has menswear evolved over the years in Denmark? JP: Not that much. The Danes are very classic when it comes to menswear. Here (DK) it is more about small things, such as the buttons having another colour than the shirt. This is also the reason for us, only selling in selected stores in Copenhagen, we attract a special type of man who seeks our look.
AG: How do you maintain current and relevant collections to a modern generation? JP: By listening to what my senses for fashion and my guts and heart tell me to do. It’s hard to explain, but it is more about a mood or feeling inside, that always takes me somewhere. It’s hard to describe what it is in the beginning, but then I end up having pictures to tell the mood, drawings and lines that have a look, and then it takes off. When I see where it is all going, I make sure to always maintain it with a clean elegant and modern side.
AG: Any iconic individuals you envision in your designs? JP: I´ve never had a certain type to wear my designs. For me it is more about the clothes speaking out to people, so that when you see it you know that you have to have it because it makes you feel good, and look strong and vibrant.
AG: Do your clothes change for different cities? JP: They do not change, but it’s easy to see through sales what different people want and what the buyers want from city to city. It depends on their style, the weather in their country and so on.
AG: Is there a market for “Made in Denmark” and do the majority of your labour and materials come from Denmark? JP: The materials are from Italy, France, and Austria. For me it´s not important to get out that I am Danish, but rather that the customers like my clothes. Denmark is known for great design, but that is never going to be the way and why we sell Jean//Phillip as a brand; You´re buying Jean//Phillip because of the identity of the brand and because you see yourself in it.
AG: When did you decide to enter the world of fashion, and what keeps you designing? JP: The world of fashion has always interested me, and even fascinated me because there is no limit on how to express yourself; the only limit is your mind. What keeps me going, I don´t know. All I know is that I can’t stop.
AG: What are the biggest challenges for you as a fashion designer to produce a collection? JP: Finding the materials you dream of for making the jacket or the trousers, finding the right buttons and zippers. But at the same time I would not live without this, as the journey and quest for perfection is one of the things that makes it so much fun, and the smallest things can make the big difference. I am also very lucky to have a great team that makes things happen.
AG: Who are some of your favourite designers? JP: Bernhard Willhelm has always had a big impact on me as he is so daring, and provocative. He takes everything to another level completely, where nobody else enters. It’s (his work) all about colours, prints, sex, crack, porn stars and the unexpected. I love it.
AG: Are you where you thought you would be one day? JP: As a person you always dream of being somewhere or someone in your life. I just started hoping it would happen, and was lucky that it did!
AG: What are some of your favourite things about Denmark (related or unrelated to fashion)? JP: The silence of the countrysides, and smørrebrød (a Danish food tradition, untranslatable).
AG: Where might one find you on a Sunday afternoon? JP: If I´m not busy making a new collection at the studio, you will find me in sweatpants and a T-shirt in my countryside home, watching a movie, playing my Nintendo Wii, relaxing the best way possible like everybody else would.