• An interview with Maria Hedmark

    Written by Dahlia Celestina by Michaela Widergren

    “ LINIE celebrates the sophistication of simplicity through a disciplined design process. By minimizing unnecessary cuts and seams with a one-pattern-piece theory, LINIE’s detail-oriented tailoring allows the fabric and body to express their purest forms. - LINIE brings body, style and garment into balance “; is how designer Maria Hedmark describes her design and is also exacly how I’d like to introduce you to the brand Linie.  

    DC: Being Swedish, has that changed your view on your own fashion line since you’ve been in New York? 

    MH: Being in New York has given me the guts to start my own fashion line. I don’t think I would have started my own line as early in life as I did if I would still be in Sweden. I’m not sure if that is about “The law of Jante” or that life is very comfortable in Sweden. Moving to New York was a big step for my inner growth, and being here and in this business put me in to a lot of stress. I realized I could handle that, and not just handle but I was actually also good at it. By having my own line I’ve been able to evolve as a person and in my skills.

    DC: Starting off with menswear, do you feel like moving forward to creating womenswear has helped your creative process?

    MH: For me starting off with menswear has definitely helped me to acknowledge the cut and importance of a well-fitted garment, as well as the substance of a great fabric and drape. I took all these factors in to consideration when moving forward with womenswear. Many womenswear labels today are about adding seaming, trims and ornaments to a garment, but that has never been my aesthetic. Although I appreciate the straight forward with menswear I think there is a bigger span of clothing in womenswear and what kind of fabric you can use is almost unlimited. If I would use similar fabrications and cuts in menswear it would most likely look like costumes or an art project. 

    DC: You are known for your clean cut, simple yet edgy designs and tailoring. Do you think your style of tailoring/designing will ever change in the future fashion years to come? 

    MH: I have been very strict with my rules of how to make a garment. In the end I want as few seams as possible and ideally as few pattern pieces doable. For example, I have only added a cut if it’s necessary for the fit or that it creates unnecessary waste of the fabric. Adding another fabric to the garment is only “legal” if there has to be a cut within the shape of the garment. But in the end it’s actually about making a beautiful piece. So in the future I will most likely stretch those rules, that’s just part of the evolution. 

    DC: What was your reason/inspiration for calling your fashion line “LINIE”? 

    MH: First of all the Swedish word for “line” is “linje” pronounced [ˈliːni̯ə]. LINIE is just a graphical nicer spelling.

    I have always believed that all human beings have their own kind of language with how they write, draw and create things. This has been created through life and your experiences. So having your own fashion line is not just of how your clothes look, you have to go to the very fundamental beginning of your process – the line that you draw on a paper for a sketch. You are the only one who can make that line. Going to the next step with draping and patternmaking, you put in your own handwork and language in to that piece. How you create a shape and how you handle the cutting of a fabric and sewing is all a very unique process. So the final line up of the collection and your aesthetic is all the result of how you created that early first drawn line.


    Written by Felicia Eriksson

    XENOPHORA is the brand created by the designer Karissma Yve. Based in Detroit, she focuses in creating relics that is a step away from just being ordinary fashion jewelry. The creative process, the ancient hand made techniques and the relation between the floating poetry and the raw textures marks the aesthetics of Karissma Yve’s world.

    FE: The name XENOPHORA comes from the ancient Greek meaning “bearing foreigners”, in what way does this reflects in your design?

    KY: XENOPHORA holds a very foreign and anomalous spirit within the jewelry objects. I think of the silver and how I manipulate, carve and sculpt it. While the silver has its own purity and material composition, it now has a new component - a foreigner, which is me. These precious objects hold me within as its foreigner, once my hands touches the material it becomes perfectly imperfected, blistered, blackened and filled with a new essence. It is not a XENOPHORA object until it goes through a series of transitions and each and every object undoubtedly contains a piece of me.

    FE: The objects seems to be more than just adornment, each piece is like a small sculpture you can wear on your body. How come you chose jewelry as a way of expression?

    KY: It all starts off as a form a writing, a collection of intimate thoughts, theories and manifestations. For centuries jewelry has had many esoteric attachments to them, both the finished products and its alchemical processes. My vodouisant ancestors would tie dried herbs around there necks, stack copper or carved wood circlets engraved with symbols up to their elbows. While ancestors on my mother’s side would melt lead on a spoon, over candle fire and pour the molten metal into water. They would then read the oracle based on the form that the lead took from the rapid cooling and casting process.. this is how they told the future.

    Jewelry ties both of these practices into one for me. Its an oracle and a relic worn for reasons that goes beyond what I can express. The alchemical process excites me and leaves me in awe every time I create something new.

    FE: Tell me more about the techniques you’re using? How important are these for yourself and for the final product?

    KY: Technique is very important and there is no final object without technique, as it is the beginning toward the end. Understanding what it is that I would want to convey is the beginning. I then must select the technique that best translates the thought into precious metal matter. Its mostly an organic process when choosing which technique works with what. Its whatever I am drawn to in that moment. Then I will either sculpt the material, carve or pour molten metal into sand or bone.

    I am uncovering more and more ancient techniques and making my own techniques to proper translate my poetry very often, so it changes quite frequently. I don’t want to be too accustomed to one way of doing things. Its organic, each piece is hand-made one at a time. The possibilities for working in metal are broad and it all depends on what the piece calls for. Its like I am sourcing my thoughts and inspirations from my inner most core and then the techniques come to me and while working, the technique matures. 

    FE: Instead of talking about collections, you’re working around the concept of phases. The current phase of XENOPHORA is the 3rd one, called “Instead I Ransomed Ash and Bone” - where does the inspiration within this phase come from?

    KY: Phase 003 Instead I Ransomed Ash and Bone, comes directly from a piece of writing that I did while in this specific phase. The inspiration comes directly from experience, as with each and every phase that I create. In this time I was journeying through this primordial ash and the current zeitgeist (which is the bone) and bridging the gaps between them. 

    FE: Starting out as a jewelry brand, XENOPHORA is now taking the first steps into a new realm. You recently collaborated with a designer in Detroit and created a limited collection of bags. Tell me more about the process and the product?

    KY: Collaborations come as ritual unions. I’ve always wanted to adapt hardwares for handbags… Hardware that is atypical, organic yet functional and brutalistic. Upon meeting the founder of Around. Before we thought that we might create a capsule collection where we could develop something unique while maintaining our individuality. Our time designing was filled with unifying our individual perspectives. XENOPHORA being rough, brutalist, raw and primitive and Around. Before being minimal, highly constructed and almost mechanical. We wanted to create wearable objects where the hardware was not only functional but an adornment to the fleshly walls of the leather.

    FE: Compare to the crazy trend obsessive fashion industry, do you feel that the jewelry industry, in some way, is standing outside that fast spinning wheel? I’m thinking about the long lasting materials and the timeless design that often characterizes jewelry?

    KY: I don’t know what the fashion jewelry industry looks like. The XENOPHORA universe is more than just a jewelry brand, as my focus when creating the ‘jewelry’ objects is not trend oriented, it’s quite the contrary - its controlled by something more archaic and primitive. A conjuring of otherness, which may be otherworldly though it has its place here. With XENOPHORA I work to create an aesthetic universe - these objects are hand-made with a trueness to the materiality, though not limited to ‘just being jewelry’ I work to not change the materiality of the pieces.

    Silver is silver and diamonds are diamonds. I look not to cover the materials spirit. Rather use the material as a tool or aid in capturing a specific thought and/or concept. So I communicate with the spirit of the material, I only burnish the surface until it is at its most beautiful and natural state and let it oxidize with time while letting the diamonds just be diamonds - raw, uncut or minimally cut and in its natural untreated state.

    FE: What are the future holding for XENOPHORA?

    KY: I try not to work within boundaries. XENOPHORA is an object based atelier - the wearable sculptural ‘jewelry’ objects is the just an artisanal beginning to a complete object universe. Some days the future does not concern me in the typical way. Many seeds have already been planted and some seeds take the form of object expansion, new experiments, more collaborations and presence.

    Currently I am working on my 4th Phase, a new collaboration for developing sculptural hardwares for an Italian handbag atelier, a small brutalist and hand made Home Collection with furniture objects and dinnerwares in addition to objets d’art which will be presented during spring/summer 2016 femme Paris fashion week.. The future of XENOPHORA holds a continuation of story telling through the object and more romantic escapes of color.


  • photography by HENRIK HALVARSSON

    An interview with Lee Cotter

    Written by Jimmy Guo by Michaela Widergren

    Nobody needs more clothing, at all.

    I meet with Lee outside his wife’s atelier on the edge of central Stockholm. It’s an afternoon in July and this part of the city is eerily empty during vacation leave. He apologizes for Astrid, who urgently had to cancel her part of the interview due to sickness, and politely offers coffee. Lee never drinks anything but tea, one of the few tell-tales of his English background. He is as calm and polite as always, dressed head-to-toe in black. - I’m pretty sure Astrid will say the same things as I do, maybe just in other words, Lee says.

    The married couple had been working together for almost a decade after founding V Ave Shoe Repair in 2004, today they’re spending most of their time working in a parallel manner with different offices. VASR quickly gained critical acclaim and became one of the spearheads of Swedish fashion, an impressive story that ended last year when the both founders walked out and the brand folded. But through the ashes of what was, Olsson and Cotter have risen again with their new project named By the No.

    JG: One cornerstone of the By the No (BTN) concept is that every collection is built on an external collaborator. Why so?

    LC: We wanted to do something different and focus solely on the creative part. We wanted to break out of the anxiety and stiffly modeled ways the fashion industry expects. To do this we looked for input from other creative people we admire, for this season (AW2015) we’ve worked with artist Jesper Waldersten, I’ve long admired him and been inspired by his work. He’s truly a genius of many talents (the Stockholm-based artist works in both painting, sculpture, still life and poetry). The interesting part is taking someone outside of the fashion world to make clothing, the only thing we have in common is that we are creative. If we, as designers, borrow his mind – what happens? For me and Astrid it’s a challenge to let someone else in and make a stir. Because even though fashion constantly changes with each collection, the framework remains rather fixed. A collaboration like this forces us to choose a different approach. I like how unexpected this is, you can never be certain about how something will turn out.

    JG: How do you find these creatives?

    LC: I reached out to Jesper and he happened to know about us already. He’s not a fashion-guy but he loves clothing and previously had this idea about someday working with clothes. Our knowledge of garment design and construction provided the tools for his creative starting point. For spring 2016 we’re showing during the upcoming fashion week in Stockholm is created with choreographer Kenneth Kvarnström, someone Astrid got to know through her work for Stadsteatern.

    JG: What would be your dream collaboration?

    The two we’ve done so far are more or less dream collaborations in fact! There’s no point for us to look too far beyond when there is great creativity right here.

    JG: Let’s talk about the collection, how did you come up with these pieces?

    In the instance of Jesper, he had an enormous archive from which we could source. The main challenge was to edit and find a cohesive direction. We did make up different kind of scenarios, asked ourselves questions like: “who’s our character? What would he/she wear to a funeral? Some of it is built on random scribbles of text and poetry he’s written and part of the collection is purely clothes that Jesper desired, he needed a suit he could wear while painting in his atelier – a painter’s suit. Made to be used and splattered with paint. Just like I wish our clothing will be used, I like when garments become part of a person’s life and that it shows.

    How do you and Astrid work together?

    We’ve worked closely for so long that we almost have a telepathic connection. That said, we still discuss things a lot and everything we do is harshly scrutinized. There’s not a seam or a construction that passes without questioning. I hope this is something the customers will be able to see, that we’ve put so much thought into each piece and everything is really considered. The physical realization from idea to garment is extremely traditional for us; I’ve never understood designers who are satisfied with making a sketch and let someone else realize it. We make our own toile prototypes and patterns ourselves so when we meet our manufacturers in Portugal there is very little room for errors. It’s more or less like an atelier production.

    JG: Hardly a year passed since you left VASR and started BTN, what did you learn from that experience and how different is this approach?

    At the end of VASR both Astrid and I were exhausted by the fashion industry and the breakneck speed of it. After being approached with different offers this seemed right. Though nobody needs more clothing, at all but there isn’t enough original design. Rather, there is too little innovation. High-street brands are presenting looks that copy the look of the luxury segment. When both high and low then also do these collaborations, what really is the difference? We’re not back to pursue commercial interests and try to fit in between high-street and luxury, we want to stay out of it.

    This time around, we’re only focused on the creative part with a great team managing sales and the entire business part. Before we were doing everything ourselves. The greatest difference, however, is letting someone else’s mind into the creative process. Nonetheless, both Astrid and I are the ones we always been and our tastes haven’t changed. VASR fans will still find pieces they recognize now.

    JG: Something that has struck me about your work, both before and now, is that you’re very different from other Swedish designers. It always makes more sense in a more international context. Are you planning to take BTN abroad?

    Yes, in fact we’re already doing that. Our sales team just showed next season in Paris. We don’t have a long-term plan to expand into here and there – it’s rather more about finding a market that is receptive to our style. What’s challenging about Sweden is finding the right retailers that match our aesthetic. Abroad there are so many more stores that understand and like our style. For us, online sales have been really great, a way for us to present clothes our way and reach out beyond geography.

    JG: Do you consider yourselves to be alternative?

    I don’t like to define ourselves like that, that’s something others should do. I’d say it depends, here in Stockholm we’re definitely alternative. Drop us off in Paris and we’re not.

    JG: So, what kind of reaction are you hoping to stir with your designs?

    I hope clients and viewers feel inspired to extend their style. I’d like our existing fans to find comfort in that we are consistent but still making new things. We’re still doing what we love ourselves and I hope this continuity feels honest. Everyone just gets nervous by completely changing the look every season.

    In a way, both Astrid and I are rather uninterested in fashion. We’re looking at a lot more art for inspiration. Without coming off as too pretentious, art has a lot more in common with our way of working than fashion. For an artist, there are no seasons and the most important thing is for the results to turn out as the artist intended it to be. For fashion though, there is always a deadline and a speed that makes you uneasy. The seasonal system quickly kills the value of fashion and I hope our garments have a longer life than so. We want to present carefully made design with value that transcend seasons, something that doesn’t have to be discounted by the end of a season. To do this everything has to take it’s time, there is so much work, time and energy that goes into making clothes and to know that it has an expiration date feels dreadful. The editor-in-chief of a large magazine recently gave us the best compliment we could imagine. She was wearing this VASR top and said “this one’s from 2007, you make such timeless clothes!”

    JG: But you’ll still make two collections a year with both women’s- and menswear?

    There’s definitely room to do more but for that there has to be a really good reason beside the commerciality of pre-collection. We probably won’t make four ready-to-wear collections but maybe add an extra collection of just shoes and accessories. I think that many in the fashion industry are running without knowing why. Great design takes time and must have a purpose or goal other than pure selling. We must however embrace the commercial aspect as well since we want our designs to be worn and approachable and it is a business. What we do should still resonate with a customer, although we’re creating something different it’s just clothes at the end of the day.