Yvonne Koné, although approximately one million times more chic than I am, is about the same height. This is exciting news, because I am tall and spend a fair amount of my time fielding questions about my height (“Do you know you’re tall?!” and “Wow, you’re tall! How tall are you?”). So when I meet a woman who I can look in the eye in our stocking feet, I feel a certain level of kinship.
When we walk from the front of her store up to a small cellar, we both have to duck our heads in order to walk across to our seats. This is going great, I think! There’s already so much to talk about.
The truth is we didn’t talk about our respective heights even once because I was too busy learning about Yvonne’s work and how she came to design her eponymous accessories label. As soon as we sat down she launched into it, detailing how she was born in Copenhagen, moved to Jutland at age 7 then moved back to Copenhagen at the age of 20 to work. Soon after, she began studying textile design at what was then called Danmarks Designskole (now part of the Royal Academy of Art and Architecture). Soon she changed her focus to fashion.
“With textile, it’s about the print and then what you can do with the textile. With fashion, you’re focused on the product. And I was missing the finished product. So it made sense for me to shift.” Soon, she was knitting scarves and selling them in shops around the city. While still in her studies, Yvonne began designing bags. She took out a small loan and produced 100 of them, which not only sold quickly but got a fair amount of media coverage. I ask if she has any samples left of the original bags and Yvonne shakes her head.
“I don’t, but you know, when I think back to those bags, they’re not so far from what I’m designing today.” That speaks to not only Yvonne’s design consistency but also the timelessness of her work.
After bags, Yvonne moved on to shoes, adding sandals in 2012. “I like designing shoes for the same reason that I like designing bags,” she tells me. “Because you have to focus on not only the look and the material but also the proportions and functionality.”
When I ask Yvonne to explain this, she says, “Comfort for shoes is so important. The way they’re made is what comes first. That’s the same for bags. It also means that once I’ve designed the bag or the shoe, I can make it in different sizes or materials. There’s a lot to play around with.”
With all production in Italy, Yvonne is able to visit her suppliers and factory a few times a year. In addition to spending more time in Italy, Yvonne has recently opened her own storefront on Store Strandstraede.
“You can quote me,” she says, “in a few years, this will be a major street in Copenhagen. There’s already so much happening here and it’s getting more interesting all the time. I wasn’t planning to open a shop for a few years, but when this place opened, I felt that I had to take it. It was too good to pass up.”
As we’re talking, the Danish Royal Guard makes their daily march to Amalienborg Palace. We pause for a moment and look out the window. Says Yvonne, “Like I said, this is the right place for me.”
See more on Yvonne Koné here.