Han Kjøbenhavn runway shows are serious business. I think calling it a runway show isn’t reflective of the tone; it seems more like performance art that happens to include clothing.
When we walk in, an hour before the show, it became clear very quickly that if we were going to get behind-the-scenes footage, we just had to get on top of it. People were busy. Like, seriously and purposefully busy. So Freya got to work taking photos and I crouched in the corner like a Peeping Tom and took notes while giggling to myself (some of my notes are funny).
Watching the run-through, my first thought is that this show is fucking terrifying. The models wear fencing mask-meets-rendition-style white bags on their heads. Surprisingly, taking away the faces of models does not refocus your attention on only the clothes. It just made me wonder what they looked like under there (Freya later confirmed that they are indeed very good looking. See video for further confirmation), but also…terrified.
Maybe my terror comes from the sheer military precision of the whole operation. There’s a lot of testosterone in this brand. The production team members are stalking, or prowling, or any number of verbs that denote aggressive energy. It’s all very controlled, though, which makes you feel like something could explode at any second.
Han Kjøbenhavn’s clothes fall very much into the category of cool (how can you tell what’s cool? I know it when I see it). So as the lights go down and the sound of typewriters start – with computer props, for some reason – there’s a dual focus on the performance of the show and on the clothes. Han Kjøbenhavn’s style is minimalist enough that up close, the cuts demand attention for their sharpness and structure. Far away, as we as the audience are, however, it’s more about the addition of bright colors (Kelly green and cobalt) and occasional prints. It’s a new direction for Han Kjøbenhavn, and one that I’m excited to see them build on.
Because there’s no such thing as a spoiler for a fashion show (if there is, then: spoilers ahead), I can tell you that halfway through the show, two models take out giant fake guns and shoot themselves in the (bag-covered) heads. Since I had already seen it in the pre-show run-through, I was interested to see how the audience reacted. Oddly, they laughed. It was kind of nervous laughter, like they couldn’t quite figure out how they were supposed to react.
The “dead” models stayed on the ground for the rest of the show, and even after the show ended. They may still be there now, for all I know. At the end of the show, audience members gathered around the models laying on the ground to take photos. And post them to Instagram, one can only assume.
Obviously I don’t know what Han Kjøbenhavn was going for with this performance. It may just have been an interesting series of actions that they randomly strung together, or it could have been more specific. But I appreciated the fact that, during a fashion show, I was actually engaging in some critical thinking about the relationship of the designers to the clothes to the models to the audience.
Over the last years, Han Kjøbenhavn has become an inspiring brand for not only those from Scandinavia (and specifically Denmark) but also a very clear marker of the ways in which Scandinavia leads the pack in terms of creative, clean and high-quality fashion and alternative branding. If they continue to produce thoughtful runway shows like this one, I’ll certainly be paying attention in the future.
– Photos and video by Freya McOmish
See more on Han Kjøbenhavn here.