French-Danish designer Anne Isabella Rasmussen weaves nostalgia and a sense modern luxury into clothes that take on a universe of their own
- Who is it? The eponymous label of Berlin-based French-Danish designer Anne Isabella Rasmussen
- Why do I want it? Embodied and experiential psychedelic prints that seamlessly meld body with textile and space
- Where can I find it? Anne Isabella is available at Nordstrom Spaces, SSENSE, Notre, Voo Store, H Lorenzo, Opener and Désolé
Who is it? During a six-month road trip with her partner, Anne Isabella Rasmussen seamed together the conceptual basis of her eponymous label, and in January 2020 made the first step of incorporating her brand – just weeks before the global pandemic would bring the world to a grinding halt. But, like the reassurance communicated by her brand’s bold time-warped visual language, Rasmussen views the experience of launching her first three seasons digitally with a placid realism. “There were advantages in that we were so new and so small, that our platforms were so limited, and we were sort of on a level playing field with everyone else.” Now, with four collections under her belt, she is ready to open her universe into the physical realm.
Rasmussen entered the world of fashion via fine arts, specifically drawing. “I was always keen on drawing, but I was not super good at school,” laughs the designer, “so I started taking classes with a tutor who was Irish and introduced me to the idea of Central Saint Martins.” Rasmussen enrolled in the university’s BA in Fashion Print before completing her MA in Fashion (Womenswear). She rounded out her studies with internships at Kenzo and Jil Sander, and worked post-graduation at the French fashion house Courrèges.
Such a pathway, anchored in aesthetics, explains the fluency of her own label’s visual vocabulary. In an era where virtuality can be synonymous with hurriedness, as every emerging designer races to sell online, Rasmussen’s refined identity stands out: it is paced, thoughtful and entrancing. Again, viewing the pandemic as a temporal luxury, Rasmussen explains, “I had the time to build up my aesthetic, to build out my world, to set up a framework for the brand.” With each collection, she refines and updates previous archetypes: stripes are further warped, flower motifs tendrilled and paled, collars broadened and winged.
By her fourth collection for Autumn/Winter 2022, entitled Fragments, the designer was ready to step the Anne Isabella universe into the physical realm. Presenting at the Palais de Tokyo during Paris Fashion Week in March 2022, she collaborated with set designer Mathilde Vallantin Dulac to translate the brand’s aesthetic into the spatial. Within an immersive living room set-up floored with a monochromatic design paying homage to Rasmussen’s prints, models placed the garments in a lived reality.
Why do I want it? With her distorted stripes and retro-hued palette, it would be easy to reduce Rasmussen’s iconic visual vocabulary to a giddying nostalgia for the halcyon days of the 1960s and 1970s. But that would be like reading Joan Didion’s essays on California of the same era purely as a superficial ode to golden times lost, ignoring her gritty detailing of reality; for behind Rasmussen’s motifs is a mastery of fashion print that is both experiential and embodied. Each print is imagined with a striking bodily awareness: “it is always engineered to every pattern piece on the garment. The upper sleeve has its own print, the collar has its own print, each piece of the garment is constructed around the body.” Such precision continues even to the button placement, which is purposefully integrated into minute detailing of the warped print. The result is unique silhouettes that may seem like optical illusions but meld body with textile and space.
As Rasmussen moves her label into the physical space, so too do her garments. While the designer previously worked predominantly with flattened digital printing methods, her Fragments collection bursts with texture and volume. Take, for example, the puffer jacket, made from deadstock fabric, which gives a tactile robustness to her iconic stripes. Denim continues to feature in this collection but now there is a palpable juxtaposition between the rough edges of her jeans and skirts, and the soothing laser-printed graphics. The designer has also ventured into knitwear, playing with the density of thickened cashmere to add a haptic dimension to her optical prints and signature silhouettes like the reverse collared halter-neck top.
Rasmussen regularly invites other creatives into her universe, such as illustrator Lena Besse with whom she made a fanzine and a unique print to launch her Autumn/Winter 2021 collection. For her upcoming Spring/Summer 2022 collection, Rasmussen has collaborated with Danish jewellery designer Inger Grubbe on a series of optical illusory earrings. And this, hopefully, is just the beginning. “I’d love to go into a show dimension at some point and obviously anything that’s related to accessories. Bags, shoes, etc,” muses Rasmussen. “And maybe going into furniture, and these kinds of product design. Not just yet, but it’s something that I can see myself doing.” If the Anne Isabella universe is the future reality, it’s one we’d like to live in.