This article originally appeared in 1 Granary Issue 6
A look through Cecilie Bahnsen's studio before finalising a collection, as seen in 1 Granary issue 6
Cecilie Bahnsen doesn’t just design dresses–she builds universes. To her, each single garment, each miniscule detail, needs to fit into the larger scheme of things. This can be incredibly overwhelming, but ultimately, it’s how she brings together the two scales on which she works: the aery volume and the intricate embroideries.
One of the many ways in which these worlds are expanded, beyond hemlines and sleeve lengths, is through the show location–often decided upon at the start of a collection. This season, for example, the catwalk was placed on a pier near one of Copenhagen’s floating neighbourhoods of houseboats. It was the openness and breeziness of the environment that Cecilie Bahnsen worked to bring into her designs. Her studio is equally close to the sea, which comes in handy when she needs to take a literal breather. Cecilie has found that stillness is the only thing that calms her down when she can’t see the forest for the trees.
With a DNA that recognisable, it can be tempting to never leave what you know, which is why the Royal College of Art graduate purposefully challenges her comfort zone–by adding tailoring, for example, as she did this season, working out how to fit a traditionally masculine trait into her hyperfeminine world.
From the handmade textiles to the elaborate but minimal details, all elements nourish each other. Embroideries are always added to embellish, rather than draw the attention away from the simplicity of the garment. In most cases, the smaller, more refined details come as solutions–how can a complex design be about purity? For example, closing a dress by tying it rather than adding a zipper creates decorative knots, but it’s also a way to allow for the transparency of the fabric to go unscathed. It’s where functionality and beauty meet, and it’s where the garment becomes truly Cecilie.