Fashion

Exploring Nordic Expressionism with Danish Fashion Designer Morten Ussing

Danish womenswear designer Morten Ussing works from a basement studio in Copenhagen. Somehow – in a way that seems to fit perfectly with Morten’s personality – the light is bright, and it streams in through the windows as we talk from his office. “Isn’t it amazing?” He asks, when I mention that it’s the least dark basement I’ve ever visited, “It’s quite unique!” The same could be said for Morten, who is among a handful of emerging Danish designers whose assured work belies their youth.

Ussing received an MA in Womenswear at the prestigious Central Saint Martins, graduating in 2015. He began working as a creative director in London, but quickly learned that corporate life wasn’t for him.

“I had to be tough with people and that just wasn’t me. I realized that if I was going to stay in the fashion industry, I had to do it in a way that felt right.”

 

He moved back to Copenhagen and launched his eponymous label in 2016. “Moving back was really important to me because I’m very close with my family and wanted to be near them. Family is everything to me. Also, it just felt like a more gentle industry than in London. I was able to do things in a more experimental way,” Morten explains. “I didn’t put a lot of pressure on myself when I started; I just wanted to see where it would go,” he notes.

“Every season, I try to do something different,” Morten says. “When I started out, I refused to use black. I wear mostly black, as Danes do generally, so I wanted to move away from that. Having just come from London, I was just so over this darkness. I wanted color and texture! There’s the Nordic minimalism movement, and I call what I do ‘Nordic expressionism;’ it’s all about feelings and telling a story.”

 

For anyone who has seen Morten’s designs, the sense of an artist working on a canvas is pervasive. When viewing the work of male fashion designers working in womenswear, they can (perhaps reductively) be divided into two categories: those who hate women, and those who love them. Morten Ussing is most definitely the latter, and his clothes reflect this profound love.

When I mention this theory to him, Morten lights up. “Thank you so much for saying that,” he says. “I do love women; I love the women in my life very much. I became interested in fashion as a child watching my mother get dressed up to go out at night. She wasn’t a particularly fancy person, but she was just so chic. I think women are empresses, and that’s what’s in my mind when I design.”

The autumn/winter 2019 season of Copenhagen Fashion Week was Morten’s third showing on the runway. His inspiration was the colors of a supernova. “I just loved the idea of dying star; I mean, how romantic!” Morten exclaims. The collection itself was made up of blue, black, orange, and pink tones, mixing luxe, thick fabrics and knits with a constellation-like print. The pieces are both high-fashion and wearable; aspirational but not out of reach.

 

“Each of my collections tell a story and each are so different because that’s how I think women live their lives,” Morten says. “They are always evolving and changing, and they have all these different parts of themselves. I want to honor that. You can see my DNA in the silhouettes from collection to collection, but the most important thing is how a woman wears it.”
 

 
When I ask what’s coming up next season, Morten has one word for me: “print.” When I ask if he can share more he shakes his head. “You’ll see it on the runway!” He laughs.

See more on Morten Ussing.

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