With a population of just 200,000, Reykjavik has been punching above its weight when it comes to fashion and design. Although the Icelandic word for "designer" only entered the language in the 1950s, you can find a profusion of small boutiques and shops showcasing local talent in the downtown core, while disused buildings in the old fish-packing district are rapidly being converted into studios and ateliers.
Launching concurrently with DesignMarch, a city-wide celebration of Icelandic design, the 4th Reykjavik Fashion Festival (RFF) recently showcased some of Iceland’s most exciting new fashion talent to an international crowd. A day of runway shows was held at Harpa, the dramatic new multipurpose hall in the harbour, designed by Henning Larsen Architects and Batteríið, with famed artist Ólafur Elíasson.
"A city-wide celebration of Icelandic design, the Reykjavik Fashion Festival showcases some of Iceland’s most exciting new fashion talent"
Three of the collections stood out. First was Farmers Market, one of the country’s most well-known slow fashion brands – a movement focused around reducing production and increasing quality. Specialising in heritage-inspired clothing, much of it made from Icelandic wool, their pieces are elegant yet robust. Beautiful traditional designs for men and women, contemporary cuts, and a handmade attention to detail make their knitwear some of the most desirable around. At the other end of the spectrum, and taking his inspiration from prison uniforms, new label JÖR, by Guðmundur Jörundsson, brought androgynous, tailored black and white stripes and evocative geometric patterns to the runway, reflecting the extremes of daylight and darkness that occur throughout the year in Iceland. Lastly was a collaboration between Mundi, one of the rising stars of Icelandic fashion, and hugely popular outerwear brand 66°North, for the final show of the day. The new line is for men’s and women’s techwear, featuring deconstructed animal prints, which read as allusions to both the rugged Icelandic landscape and an imagined futuristic nomadism.
Legendary fashion photographer Roxanne Lowit was over from New York as the RFF’s guest of honour, with a retrospective of her work featuring stunning backstage snaps and stolen moment from some of the biggest names in fashion from over the last thirty years. A group of young artists were also specially commissioned by the Icelandic Fashion Council to create drawings inspired by different brands, and shown at the Artima Gallery.
Text by Ananda Pellerin
Ananda Pellerin is a London-based writer and regular contributor to AnOthermag.com