The Danish designer Henrik Vibskov loves to clash: in colors, in mood and with the social norms of his country, where carving one’s own experimental niche isn’t always encouraged. As a result, he is Denmark’s most popular designer and commands a huge cult presence in the United States and beyond. Known best for his absurdist installations, obtuse silhouettes for both men and women and trademark imaginative scarves, he’s also a touring musician with Trentemøller, a MoMA-approved avant-garde artist and a dad.
Having wrapped up another successful, uproarious show at Copenhagen Fashion Week, Vibskov emailed with Rolling Stone about the genesis of his “Transparent Tongue” Spring 2013 collection, how he balances a life dedicated to both design and music and what sounds he’s currently digging.
You played with negative space and cut-outs in an interesting way for Spring 2013. In terms of translating the tongue motifs to fabric, what methods did you experiment with?
We worked a lot with perforated dots and circles, silhouette shapes, structures in the knit and circles in the printed textiles.
What was the reason for using only black models this season? Was it to create a contrast with the palette?
Not necessarily. I have been using black models before, nearly in all my shows, actually. They dance and walk better than us stiff-foot Scandis! We never had a rigid “model type” in any of our prior shows, so this was to experiment a bit with this. And then, it also fit well to the cut-out silhouettes.
What were the accoutrements on the model’s backs – it looked like upside-down chairs?
Exactly, and with a knitted, knotted upside-down basketball basket.
Your show is Copenhagen’s most popular. Would you ever relocate or show in another city’s fashion week?
I have been doing Paris Men’s Week nearly for 10 years now, and also did Milan and a few other cities. NYC is still missing!
What makes Copenhagen Fashion Week unique? And what makes your aesthetic work so well for the city?
It’s a tight-knit community; that’s very special about Copenhagen. Sometimes I don’t feel particularly Danish with all colours and weird shapes… but I guess everybody – not only in Copenhagen – should be shaken sometimes by unexpected colors, shapes, music and movements.
Do you ever feel Jante Law (a Danish social code that emphasizes collective over individualized success) inhibits creativity?
Jante Law is a difficult thing, but it’s not a purely Danish phenomenon – not sure it inhibits me, maybe rather the opposite. Maybe it gives you a little drive to do things.
How do you balance music and fashion in your life?
It’s a continuous dance with both of them and you need both of them to dance!
Will you be touring or recording with Trentemøller any time soon?
Nothing planned at this point. I did my six years of touring with him; now it’s time for a little break and a new record.
Did you play music or design first?
First, the drums; 14 years later, fashion. Then, 14 years later again, Daddy. Then, 14 years later..?
Do you also record music independently?
Yes, I have been working on different projects: playing in the Friday Drums (in Danish: Trommefredag) together with the other drummer, Mikkel Hess. Recently, I have also been doing my own project called Mountain Yorokobu, where we record different sessions with different musicians.