• photography by PAULINE SUZOR

    An interview with Diana Orving

    Written by Jade D'econzac Mbay by Michaela Widergren

    Meeting Diana
    Diana Orving is described as a wonder child artist, starting her career at the age of fifteen. She’s commonly known for her fashion label Diana Orving, but this Swedish designer is far more than that. She has done everything from textile installations to stage costumes for the Swedish royal Opera. It’s Thursday afternoon, the snow and wind makes everything seem raw and cold outside Diana’s studio, which is hidden in a backyard in the trendiest neighborhood in Stockholm: Södermalm, close to “Sofo”. We are moving around Diana’s studio to find the place that she finds most comfortable. She decides to go for the wooden desk and gently makes room for herself on the top of it, with her legs crossed.

    JDM: It has been almost a year since we've seen each other! How has the start of the new year been for you? 

    DO: It’s been good! I have been involved in making costumes for the Epiphany concert in Berwaldhallen, I designed studio made pieces for three opera singers and for the Swedish TV hostess Petra Mede. After that I went to Rome. I needed to collect some new energy and some sun! Then it was time to make some progress on the new collection that I am going to show next week. But if I would return to your question about 2015, I would say that it has been a good start of the new year!

    JDM: You began by designing and producing clothes when you were fifteen years old. What got you started?

    DO: It probably has a lot to do with the environment I grew up in. My mom works as an artist. She worked a lot with textile art so I used to play around with her fabrics and borrow her sewing machine, which I still do! Ha ha- long term lending fifteen years later!

    JDM: Did you ever doubt your own ability to create clothes, having had no formal practice in how to do it?

    DO: When I started making clothes I did it mainly for myself. I didn't feel like I had any limits or that I needed to have a clear idea; instead I tried my way forward and played with the knowledge and fantasy I had back then. After high school I started to produce and sell my clothes to stores around town.

    JDM: Were you insecure about how people would approach you when you were young and trying to find your way into the fashion industry?

    DO: I had no clue how it all worked, knew nothing about seasons or agencies. I would just walk in with my clothes in a bag and ask if I could sell them there. I am glad that I didn't know any right or wrongs in those early days, the process of doing it my way has felt healthy.

    JDM: What were your ambitions when you began with your carrier?

    DO: I didn’t know what would become of what I created, I found more motivation in the fact that people were buying my clothes. It was fun and full of lust, later it became more of an economical motivation because I wanted to move away from home, ha ha! I needed to sew a lot to achieve that! It became my extra job at the time I attended high school and gradually I learned how to construct a garment and to find my own ways of doing it. After that I started to find it ever more interesting to discover different kind of silhouettes, shapes, cuttings and techniques within draping without any basic skills. I didn’t know the basics. After high school I had already passed the stage of just practicing design for my own interest, and art school didn’t seem like an option. Instead I moved to London to continue selling my clothes abroad, but also to collect inspiration. A lot of the inspiration came from the people I met, and a lot of those people I met at clubs. But then I decided to go back to Sweden, where I shared a studio with three other friends. There it all started to head in the direction of the making of my own brand. By the year 2007, I cut back on my production of handmade clothes and began producing more clothes in factories.

    JDM: How much does your work get affected by who you are?

    DO: I would say that almost everything gets affected by me in different ways. I work alone and therefore the line between my inner life and my work is very hazy. There is no one else that can control my choices, all the materials and fabrics are made from stuff that I have found. I am weaving myself into everything when I create my clothes. I create clothes that I would like to put on; it’s like an extension of my own wardrobe. What is the most private or personal is pretty universal, if I create a garment formed by my body type I am pretty sure it will be valid for many others. To sum it up it’s a lot of me and I can get really tired of myself sometimes, ha ha.

    JDM: How would you then describe your process from step one to the finished product?

    DO: The first part of the process is a never ending collection for inspiration and I can get inspired by everything, for example different pieces of art or a type of tonality. Depending on what period I find myself in I can feel attracted to different themes or objects. My whole life is kind of spilling into my work, if I travel somewhere it can be the temperature or the impressions of the surroundings that inspires me and leaks into the collection that I am working with at that time. But I would say that the gathering of inspirational material is what takes the most time. After that when all the pieces that from the beginning didn’t seem to work together, start to create a sort of pattern or a clear picture, I can continue working to the next step.

    JDM: You say that you have a habit of getting “stuck” in the collecting of inspiration stage; does that lead you setting a deadline for yourself?

    DO: I have a habit of staying in the collecting phase a bit too long and I have really tried to sort it out by using a day to day calendar. The first day goes well and I proudly mark it with “TODAY” and feel satisfied but then day two comes and so on and the calendar remains empty because I can’t plan like that. But I always seems to finish in one way or another, I get motivated by the last intensive weeks, it’s like breathing in all the impressions first and then letting them be a part of me. Then I blow it all out and start to create.

    JDM: What stage of your process tends to hold you back from continuing working?

    DO: It’s usually when I am starting to feel that I am done with the collecting stage and on my way to start producing. Before I start producing the garments it can sometimes feel like I have already done them because of how long I have been thinking about them. By that stage I can feel kind of empty and having a hard time to come up with something new, but I try to always remember that I feel the same empty feeling every season and let myself be comforted by remembering that I am a creative human being and that the feeling of emptiness will disappear sooner or later. The only thing I can do when I feel like that is to forget what everyone is expecting and not get stressed.

    JDM: Are you left - or right handed?

    DO: RIGHT!

    JDM: What tools do you like to have in your right hand?

    DO: I have this special pen in ink with a sharp tip, it doesn’t matter if I have three other pens laying around me, I can’t write without it. Then it’s my mom’s old Bernina sewing machine that she bought secondhand back in the 70s, I need it to sew all the toile. I feel uncomfortable sewing on other machines exactly like writing with other pens, those are my two favorite instruments.

    JDM: How does it feel to see someone wearing your creations?

    DO: It’s hard to forget the first time and I wish that I would feel the same strong euphoria today that I did back then but I still can get excited when I see someone wearing something that I have done, because the garment comes to life. In the beginning when I was selling to smaller stores I remember that the girls from the band “Sahara Hotnights” bought some shirts that I had done. I felt so cool. Then in the beginning it was a special feeling seeing someone wearing a garment that I had made and finished, that I had put down my time and used my inspiration to create. It felt like I had a relationship to the person and sometimes I could approach the person and be super happy and say “I MADE THAT”.

    JDM: When did you feel that you had found your own expression? And do you think it’s hard to continue developing your expression and still keep it original?

    DO: I had made a whole collection of clothes that I was going to show at Riche, everything was made under a certain period. I had chosen the models and some friends and I had built the scenography. When everything was done and I saw the models walking around in my garments and the surrounding that we had created I thought: “Wow, I actually made this!” It became clear for me after that show how I wanted to present myself as a designer, and the themes that was important for me to maintain; it felt complete in some way. Then it changes from different periods, because when I try out new techniques I can’t expect to feel the same feeling of happiness and confidence that everything is going to work out and fit with how I want it to feel. At the same time it’s important not to forget that it’s a goal or pursuit and that is what I am seeking all the time.

    Originality and creating something original doesn't feel so important to me because I am pretty sure at what I am good at and I know what it is my regulars appreciate in my garments. My brand is not a brand trying to be trendy, you can recognize my garments independently of what collection it comes from, you recognize my voice, my language that is creating a certain thread in my work that gives it the keynote and that’s more important than the pursuit of the most spectacular looking piece.

    JDM: How would you describe your vision of your success?

    DO: Success, can be many different things and I could definitely have made different choices that could have benefited my career from a financial perspective. It could have been a bigger company with more hired staff and I could have had my own shops. But all this is barely possible to achieve when you have worked as long as I have done, and the most important thing for me in any case is to stay true to my own ideas and keeping my creativity alive. My motivation has been more about my artistic motive and has pushed me to keep on creating and made me start to make clothes rather than becoming just a fashion designer, “it-person” or having a big company, I am an artist. In the end I always have to think about business though, because it’s still a company that I manage, but I still keep on putting as much time I can into making way for my artistic project rather than focusing my energy on reaching out to a bigger crowd.

    JDM: Besides working with your own brand you have worked a lot with stage costume. One was for the Swedish Royal opera, what made you want to work with stage costume?

    DO: Being a designer and making your own collections can in many ways be kind of lonely and like I mentioned before, it’s easy to get tired of yourself. It’s exciting to come into another world where other artists are working with drama or choreography and to get involved in the way the dancers are moving, understanding the music and who the characters are and how I should interpret, boost or contribute a layer to the story that is being told. It’s fun to be one of the fingers on the hand making the final result without being the protagonist.

    JDM: Apart from your own brand and stage costumes you have done some textile installations, you did one “correct me if I seem critical”, and that I personally got really surprised by. What is the biggest difference between creating a garment as compared to a whole installation?

    DO: I got the proposal to do a textile installation for the collection, the gallery was in Berlin and also the name has nothing to do with my installation, it belonged to the whole collection at the museum. Working with textiles and relating to a room instead of a body gives me totally new ways of creating; there are other possibilities and limits. It takes a lot of time and it’s harder in many ways but it’s so exciting creating which such big volumes and not knowing if it’s going to work or not. It’s like creating in the dark. The excitement with what you can create with a room is a very abstract way of creating and it’s my way of sculpting things.

    JDM: Sliding into something that’s happening very soon… Stockholm fashion week is coming up. What was your main inspiration in making this collection?

    DO: I usually think very abstractly, there is rarely a “I am inspired by this” for me, it’s more about other impressions like shapes, silhouettes and how the fabric falls, if it’s going to be ties, twists or braids. These kinds of things dominate my inspiration. There was no specific inspiration, it was more like trying my way forward with taking photo of very abstract objects. I like to look at things that I don’t understand. I am going to show you some of the prints that are going to become a part of the collection.

    Diana steps down from the desk and I slip down from the velvet divan to the floor in order to study the abstract prints more closely; it’s hard to explain what they are supposed to be. Or not be.

    JDM: When I see these I immediately think about an X-ray of the brain.

    DO: Exactly! Also space, inside the body, fire, fetus, water, air and all kind of different elements! Crust of the earth, it could be inside a volcano, it can be anything depending on the audience. I have also thought about witches that are boiling something in a gigantic pot. Witches as in strong women that have been full of their will, knowledge and independence. Witches in a positive sense. It’s still a loose idea but it connects to the thoughts of self-willed and integrity which I wanted to interpret into the garments.

    JDM: Any dominating materials in the collection?

    DO: Could be the green velvet fabric, I am not just thinking about the fabric or if it’s going to fall nice, but also that it has to feel good for the person wearing it. I have also used cupro, viscous and some fabric with more weight.

    JDM: Are you nervous for how you will be received by the fashion audience this year?

    DO: Let me think… In the last stage right before I am going to present what I have been working on during such a long time it’s not really about the reception from the audience that makes me nervous, but more if everything is going to work out as I want it to. It’s often on the day of the show that I can feel somewhere that I have already moved on. I try to have fun the last week and spend time in the studio and create during the nights. I can get nervous if I haven’t been able to enjoy the last week and haven’t had my “dream flow”. But I mean of course I get happy if the audience responds in a positive way.

    JDM: You have been celebrated for your choice of not using “regular” models in your fashion shows, instead using your friend that inspirers you or “real” women, why did you choose to brake this model norm? And how will it look this year?

    DO: I do what feels most natural for me and this year I have not decided yet which models will walk, but I will continue in the same track.

  • photography by SANDRA MYHRBERG

    An interview with Damian Ardestani

    Written by Michaela Widergren

    XOV – who used to kick it with Lucifer

    Do you know anyone who spends his or her time between LA and the Swedish archipelago? No? Didn't think so. There's quite the contrast between the sleepy and empty islands outside of Stockholm and the dreamy Hollywood hills in the USA. Two years ago Damian Ardestani isolated himself in a cabin, started writing, playing the piano and created what will be his first EP.

    We meet at the Odalisque Magazine studio space, grab some coffee and take our seats in the kitchen area. I had just finished reading an interview with Damian in the largest daily newspaper in Sweden and I've been listening like crazy to his songs Lucifer and Boy's don't cry. This guy's got a fantastic sore voice and writes melancholic and miserable lyrics.

    MM: First I thought you might tell me some about your EP that's being released on the 14th this month; what are people going to hear? I've already heard it all, but for those who haven't, what are they in for?

    DA: You will be listening to the last five years of my life. The EP's a journey starting out in a darkness that evolves into anger and sorrow but finally in the end becomes something positive and at parts even joyful. All of the songs contains different parts of my life, none of them are alike or about the same thing in any way.

    MM: Did you also produce it all by yourself?

    DA: I produce everything with a friend of mine, Jonas; he's also called Kono. I would love for him to finally get some credit, it's really a great collaboration. Kono has been essential for the entire project and he pushes me in becoming a better producer and artist. I can get hung up on one tiny detail for days but he's got a good overlooking eye and I think that's what made us able to make this music. We have got a good balance. Also he's got a background in pop music and I've got my roots in hip hop.

    MM: I notice that, I wasn't sure if I was listening to pop music or R'n'b when I was going through your songs.

    DA: I know, I've got the music on a fine line. Is it commercial, is it indie, is it pop or even hip hop? I don't know but it's a result of our collaboration coming from different musical backgrounds. I think it keeps the music dynamic and original.

    MM: How did you meet Kono?

    DA: We met at an event seven years ago. At that point I hadn't started pursuing a career in music, so no one really knew I was a musician back then. When I'd decided to make myself a name in the industry I contacted the only guy I knew working in the business and that was him.

    MM: Growing up were you always into music or did that interest evolve later in your life?

    DA: For as long as I can remember I've had an interest in music. As soon as I learned how to write I started making poetry. When I was only nine years old I got my first poem published in a children’s poetry book and already then my writing was dark and metaphorical. For me writing is a way to ventilate; it's like therapy. If I don't write I get consumed by my feelings. I later learned how to play the piano which turned into singing and at the age of eleven, when singing wasn't considered cool enough, I started rapping. Music's always been a natural part of my life.

    When you've been working on something for two years and then finally it gets ready for the public, it must be some kind of experience, good or bad. Damian tells me the feeling's painful but of course also liberating in a way. When we have our talk it's exactly one week before the EP's being published. There's no room for changes. Damian's a perfectionist and being both artist, songwriter and producer gives him a control that's hard to let go of. He says he's probably a pain in the ass to work with, since the work never ends when you're looking for what's just perfect. But sometimes being done is better than being perfect.

    MM: How come you only write in English and not Swedish?

    DA: I grew up listening to American hip hop and most of my family lives in the states, so it comes naturally. I've always spent a lot of time there, holidays and school breaks, I never really felt I was Swedish until about two years ago. I felt as I was a citizen of the world.

    MM: But you grew up in Sweden right?

    DA: I always lived in Sweden but since I travelled a lot I never really thought of myself as a Swede. Until now.

    Damian splits his time between LA and Sweden, spending three months at a time in each place, I'm not convinced he chose the right months for being up in the north since it's raining / snowing outside and I'm pretty sure the weather situation's much better in California at the moment. It seems like a struggle living on an island with only boat connections in the middle of winter.

    MM: What happened two years ago when you moved to the archipelago?

    DA: You know, things have a tendency to always happen at once. When things are good, it all happens at once and when things go bad, it all happens at once.

    My company and therefor my economy crashed, my relationship crashed and I found myself completely in chaos. It's easy for people to judge you and I felt I had to get away from being victimized. Everyone thought I was screwed, they thought my music career was over. No one thought I was going to make it. I felt I had to cut the chords with all the negative people in my life, so I just left.

    Growing up in Tensta, a close suburb to Stockholm it wasn't really as if Damian was used to being outdoors and all alone surrounded by nothing but the forest. But with some inspiration from the movie Into the Wild he saw his chance for change. For the first six months he only went into the city twice, the only one who visited was his mother and once in a while a close friend came by. Nowadays he actually has more journalists visiting than friends.

    MM: Will you move in to the city now?

    DA: No, I will always keep the cabin. It keeps me grounded.

  • photography by SANDRA MYHRBERG 
    stylist MEGHAN SCOTT
    Felix wears
    jacket, t-shirt & jeans DEADWOOD
    boots FELIX’S OWN
    Carl wears
    Jacket DEADWOOD
    t-shirt, jeans & boots CARL’S OWN

    An interview with Deadwood

    Written by Felicia Eriksson

    Deadwood started two years ago and ever since the main focus has been on creating leather jackets made of recycled materials. It's a windy morning when I'm meeting up Felix von Bahder and Carl Ollson, the guys behind the brand, at their office at St:Eriksgatan. We talked about following your heart and how to create clothing that never goes out of style.

    FE: Tell me about how you two met each other?

    FvB: We met back in 2007 at SOLO (a Swedish clothing store, editor's note) where I had worked for a couple of months. I later met Calle who had started working in the same shop. I was working some extra hours alongside my studies and Calle worked there full time. During those hours we spent side by side, mostly at the jeans section, we felt a good vibe between us and we started to hang out even outside of work.

    After a year at the shop we started to think about creating something ever better than the clothes we were working with every day and do something by ourselves. First we thought about opening our own store, because when you're working under someone else's rules, you just want to prove that you can do it even better. And then all of a sudden we ran into this empty place at Söder (the southern parts of Stockholm, editor's note) and we opened a second hand store without knowing anything about what we were doing except that we both knew what we liked. So without any budget or knowledge we put our hearts in this project.

    FE: Why a second hand store?

    FvB: I guess we were fans of vintage even before we opened and had a lot of vintage clothes already in our wardrobes so we tried to get rid of all of that and then we also got a reason to shop even more, but not only for ourselves. We continued for almost two and a half years and we had a lot of fun even though we failed sometimes. At that time we started to build some kind of fan base with friends and people around us who came by our store and just hung out over a cup of coffee or a beer and bought our clothes. We also started to work with remakes and patchworks like these classic punk remakes and then we contacted people who knew how to work with recycled leather and that’s how it all began.

    FE: Was leather something you wanted to work with from the start?

    CO: The most difficult part for us was to find good looking vintage leather jackets to sell in the store. The material was often in good condition but most of the time the model and fit was just

    lame. The shoulders were broad and sharp and the jacket short. So we thought about the idea of producing new leather jackets, with a slightly more up to date feeling; of old patent leather that still was in useable shape. We started to sell these patch worked jackets in our store without any label on them and people liked them.

    FE: Were you both interested in fashion before you started at SOLO?

    FvB: For me the jeans and denim part was the most interesting thing about working there. There are a lot of techniques and history to learn about jeans so I just dived in to all of that and really enjoyed it.

    CO: I would say the same, at that time when we both worked there, the shop was selling a lot of jeans with high quality like vintage Levi's and that was really exciting.

    FvB: There was a good vibe at SOLO back then. We could play the music that we liked and sell good looking clothes.

    FE: And that's when you realized that you wanted to take this interest to the next level?

    FvB: Yeah, it was the creative part during that time, the rock'n'roll spirit, and the band who came by the store and played music who made us think about taking it to the next level with our own names. It's something special about having a place of your own, no matter if it's you own apartment or a café you have the possibility to create your personal little world.

    FE: How important is the recycling process for both of you? Is the thought about the environment and the global warming something that's on top of your list?

    FvB: Yes, that's one of the main reasons we opened up a vintage store. It's a combination between the environmental aspects and the feeling of finding something unique. By that time I was studying a course at the University about sustainable development and that made me even more interested in taking care of all the resources that already existed. Because when you start to think about these things it's hard to ignore them and when you know how the industry works you can't just delete that insight. Even though it's hard to produce anything at all without leaving any traces on our earth we're trying to do the best we can in our way. We want to make people think in a different way and inspire to small changes.

    FE: Your idea is to use leftover pieces from the leather industry to produce your jackets? Felix is walking across the room and showing me a black jacket.

    FvB: As you can see this has a patchwork structure, its smaller parts of different leather from old garments. So it's definitely a creative process to find all these pieces and make them fit together so the jacket will feel symmetric and coherent. Right now we're looking for old lambskin that gives the jacket a perfect weight but also a light and airy feeling. It's been a long process of finding someone who gets the idea of what we’re doing and how we want to work. Finally we found this amazing team in Bangkok that works with agents all across Southeast Asian that “scouting” these old leather pieces for us. Once the leather arrives to our workshop and to our team they examines what’s usable or not. Because of the distance, it's impossible for us to be there as often as we might want to but it's comforting that we found these people who understand our aesthetics.

    FE: When you first started did you feel that there was request for recycled leather products? It feels like there's a lot of enlightened people who thinks about the ethical aspects of buying second hand leather today?

    CO: Not really, but I guess this increasing awareness has affected people and their consumer habits. But in the beginning it was just us who had the desire to create these jackets so no… Before that we didn't feel any request at all.

    FvB: We're not the first in the world who works with recycled leather but I think we might be the first to work in this scale and with this ambition. People have this thought about the leather jacket as the most expensive garment in the wardrobe but we don't think that’s necessary. We want to make pieces that will last for many years for an affordable price. The best thing is when we actually see our design walking down the streets instead of just hanging in some fancy stores.

    FE: When I'm looking through your web shop I get a specific picture in my head about the typical Deadwood customer. It somehow feels like Deadwood leather is about a lifestyle?

    CO: We've grown together with Deadwood, from the start we had this clear idea about our customers but meanwhile as the collections grew bigger, we noticed that our idea was wrong. I think we had this flattering picture of ourselves as a bit more alternative and cooler then we actually were. We see a mix of ages, nationalities and subcultures that are buying Deadwood and we realized that we're more commercial than we thought. I never thought that our design would appeal to so many people, but when you think about it, it's really awesome.

    FvB: I think there are certain kinds of people who are drawn to our brand and they are people who like the same things as we do. Our passion for music and especially for soul and punk has influenced our aesthetic values and there’re a lot of musicians who really like our stuff. It's

    always fun to see your design come alive on television or at a stage. There's this universal image of the leather jacket as something sexy and as this classic rock n' roll piece which should be found in every artists wardrobe and yeah… we're making fucking good leather jackets. But it's not all about the jackets. We're making jackets, jeans, t­shirts, and jewelry as well. Once you started you can't stop. Your soul is screaming for new ideas all the time.

    FE: I get this feeling of an androgynous look in your clothes and somehow it feels like the thought about unisex clothes, which can be used by anyone, is linked to the thought about the recycling process and the classic leather jacket that never goes out of time?

    FvB: The most we design are unisex and can both be worn by women and men and yeah… that might seem like an androgynous look. But of course it's hard to ignore the expectations from the fashion industry that you should have this division between men and women. We might have to do a pair of jeans with a model for women just because the market need it. It's always a struggle between the industry and your own heart.

    FE: You work with the concept of collection for each season?

    CO: When we started we didn't like the idea of working with collection but… as the time went by we realized that it's necessary if we want to expand. When you travel around the world and visit fairs in Copenhagen or Berlin you need to have a collection. So I think it became important for us to present two collections each year, otherwise we might just have stand still. But even though we work with the concept of collections it doesn't mean that we want to create new trends. We’re pretty classic in our design so we're looking for inspiration in the past instead of standing on the front line and try to create some innovative design for the high fashion customers.

    FvB: Yeah, like Carl is saying, we want to keep our clothes away from that desperate search for new trends and just stick to the thought about garments that will be usable for a long time.

    FE: Whats next up for DEADWOOD?

    CO: We've just produced our first beer. FvB: Yeah, we like beer. This Sunday we will have a releasefor this beer that we created in a collaboration with a brewery at Södermalm. Besides that we're in the middle of the process of finishing the last things for fall 2015 and hopefully be able to present the collection for our agents in January, and of

    course get as many orders as possible. There will be a lot of focus on t­shirts and shirts made of 100 % recycled cotton and that’s very exciting.

    FvB: The future feels bright! Next autumn Deadwood definitely going to strike hard and people will know who we are. 

    Felix wears
    jacket, t-shirt & jeans DEADWOOD
    boots FELIX’S OWN
    Carl wears
    jacket, t-shirt & jeans DEADWOOD
    boots CARL’S OWN
    Carl wears
    jacket, t-shirt & jeans DEADWOOD 
    hat CARL’S OWN
    Felix wears 
    jacket, t-shirt & jeans DEADWOOD
    hat CARL’S OWN