5 minutes with 5 women behind Ganni's AW20 show
As part of a wider collective of 20, these women – artists, sculptors, crocheters – came together to create the Danish brand's beautiful latest collection.
For its AW20 show during Copenhagen Fashion Week, Ganni enlisted 20 very different women to form a collective and contribute various elements to the show: from the set to the music to the photographic prints used on upcycled T-shirts. Why? Well it’s 2020, and it’s also the 20th anniversary of Ganni, which began in 2000 as a cashmere label and has evolved into a Danish, LVMH-backed mega brand. Such success is testament to the undeniable power of a great leopard print and affordable, easy-to-wear dresses. But whereas the #GanniGirl hashtag was used by thousands of women who identified with girl-on-a-bicycle style of the label, times are changing. Today, Ganni is reconsidering what that term means in light of the positive and negative role social media has in our lives.
So welcome to ‘202020’, a year-long platform from the label that brings together artists, writers, photographers, sculptors, DJs, designers and lots of other kinds of incredible women from around the world. Each one has been hand-selected by Ditte Reffstrup, Ganni’s creative director (and one half of the husband-and-wife duo behind Ganni).
It all started when she realised how many amazing women she was connected with online. “We live in wild times,” Ditte says. “On one hand there is a closeness that I find so touching. The world is so hyper-connected today, you look at each other through all these platforms, it’s a window of inspiration, bonding you together even if you don’t live on the same side of the world. Yet we have never felt so far away from each other, and I feel like we have to find closeness. We need to stand together.” As far as collaborations go, this is one that is both organic and wholesome (and lots of it is recycled too). Girls coming together to celebrate each other’s work, to give each other a platform. We spent five minutes with five of them to find out more.
Ditte Reffstrup, creative director of Ganni
Hi Ditte! Why did you want to bring these 20 women to contribute to the show?
I was talking to the girls at the office about how I’m from a time when if you met someone on holiday you would never keep in contact. Sometimes you remember people you met in your childhood. That’s the best thing about Instagram, we all feel so connected, you can keep in touch 24/7. I love that, but it’s weird because we’re also so disconnected. The gap between us is so big. I’ve always thought it was a team effort. I feel like bringing different women on board creates something new. You learn so much from each other.
So all of the people you brought in -- did you discover them on social media?
Some. But there are some old collaborators, like Ana Kraš, who we’ve been working with for many seasons. Then there’s someone like Hayley Blomquist, this super young girl who is collecting plastic bags and knitting art pieces. She’s not a big influencer or anything, but I was sitting here in Copenhagen and texting her and then we actually did something together.
That sense of community extends to the scene here in Copenhagen -- everyone seems to champion one another.
Yes, we need to because we’re so small. We need to cheer one another on. That’s also why people come here, for a more holistic experience -- whether that’s food, art or fashion. Everything is connected.
Before, people in fashion would be a lot more guarded about who they’re working with -- how do you think that has changed?
I’m a really good team player. You can’t win alone. Maybe that’s a Danish thing, or just a personal thing. I do feel something has changed in fashion, which is that it is now cool to be nice.
Shaniqwa Jarvis, artist and photographer
Hi Shaniqwa! Tell us a bit about what you do.
I am an artist based in New York, working primarily in photography.
How did you contribute to the show?
I gave Ditte a photograph of mine, which I shot in Jamaica. It’s called Love Shack. It’s part of their upcycling programme, so they printed my photograph on top of one of their existing shirts from previous collections.
What’s the story behind that photograph?
I was cycling around Saint Elizabeth with my husband, Raj, and we kept passing this house that had a carved blue heart in it. There were always these goats around it. The tenth time we cycled past, I thought I’d set up my camera and take a photo. And of course then all of these goats were taking shits in front of me, as if like ‘Fuck You!’ right in front of the heart. It was perfect. It’s actually one of a chunk of images I haven’t shown to anyone, so it was nice to give it to Ganni.
How did the collaboration happen?
Well, they brought me out for the show. But they also wanted to work with me creatively, which I was really happy about. I think it’s cool when a creative director has an idea and then that idea can vibrate out. Like me and Ana [Kraš] have never met but we are kind of in the same circles and we both contributed a photograph. It was nice to be here and meet her and discuss projects. Even talking to Ditte about being a woman and being creative and being married -- what all those things mean for your work, it’s nice to talk to other women about that because sometimes when you’re working, you’re very alone.
How have you found being here in Copenhagen for the show?
I’ve never been here before and from what I’ve seen, it’s beautiful! I’m falling in love with it.
Marie Lea Lund, sculptor
Hi Marie! Tell us what you do.
I am an artist and a fashion designer currently based in Berlin.
Had you heard of Ganni before collaborating with them?
I crashed their afterparty a couple of years ago, in Ditte and Nikolaj’s house, and got hooked on the brand, I was touched by their openness and beautiful engagement with the world and their surroundings.
What has been your impression while working with them?
To be honest, it’s almost been a bit overwhelming because the team and their collaborators are just so kind, there’s a calmness and groundedness that I don’t find is present very often when working in fashion internationally.
What’s the story behind your contribution to the show?
I grew up in a family deeply involved with environmentalism and always collecting and saving objects and materials for potential future reuse. That’s what I did for Ganni with the installations for the show, curating “worthless” old objects on huge podiums. It comes from an interest in reframing the value and connection we have with objects. It’s a continuation of my own practice, using colour and other methods of alternative medicine to deepen the emotional value of wearables.
Ditte mentioned that she was inspired by the way people connect online. How do you feel about social media and its hyper-connectivity?
My work is often very personal, so being able to instantly connect with peers and collaborators is very precious to me and crucial for it to grow authentically. Humans need to feel seen and heard, although social media big time stands for the opposite, if we develop a strong core it can rather uniquely serve as a platform of resonance and feeling understood.
Lulu Kaaland, crochet artist
Hi Lulu! How did you get into crochet?
I was working as a chef and then I hit my head quite badly and I had a concussion for a year. I needed to do something calming, and that’s how the crochet started. My ex-boyfriend’s mum taught me.
And what did you contribute to Ganni?
I made all of these crochet pieces from leftover yarn from previous Ganni collections. It’s all recycled.
How long do they take to make?
The dress took somewhere between 60 to 80 hours. I don’t have any idea how to make clothing, so it’s just done the way that I do it. I never have an idea how it’s going to be in the end, I just do it. The great thing about crochet is that you can go in so many different directions, which you can’t do with knitting.
Have you explored fashion before?
Clothing is not really what I do. I do bed covers and things like that, things for the home. I’ve never wanted to make clothing, I’ve just wanted to make art. But it’s an easy transfer.
How have you found working with Ganni?
I’ve always known it because I’m from here. I think what they’re doing is great. Obviously the production of clothing is never going to be sustainable, but if you are making clothing then you need to be aware, which they are.
Anna Clarisse Holck Waehrens, textile designer and artist
Hi Anna! What do you do and where?
I’m a textile designer and a curator. I’m based in Copenhagen, Denmark.
What was your contribution to the Ganni show?
I was involved in the Ganni Kiosk take-over and the Ganni Party. I contributed a series of artworks made from deadstock Ganni denim styles in a mix with plant-dyed silks and other cottons. I made a huge tent installation for the party and a set of two sleeping bags and pillows for the Kiosk. Everything was made out of reworked materials -- plants, styles, tags and cloths.
Did you know the brand before?
I know the brand as any Dane knows this brand. I like how it is family made and they're honest in their brand visions; Ganni has a sustainable approach but it’s also a brand who has grown from fun and games. In our times, the playful and the green-thinking is a difficult match. I like how Ganni is being honest about that.
What did you want to communicate or convey with your work?
Ganni Camping is a neo-romantic view into the way we treat nature and ourselves. The bonfire, the tent and the sleeping bags are all symbols of how you feel when you arise from the ground, up against the clouds and into space, where you reach the top of the mountain. It is supposed to pitch into a Utopian world where figures exist completely free of needs, being modern yet connected to nature.
How do you find your work is impacted by social media and hyper connectivity?
I’m thinking that it has become a little too much -- I would very much like to be the person who could turn off social media for a whole week, but I am not that person. The advantage of being connected all the time is the speed of action.