The sculptural sublimity of Danish designer Cecilie Bahnsen
There’s such a tactility to Cecilie Bahnsen’s clothing, that when first greeted with the Copenhagen-based designer’s puffy and cloud-like silhouettes, it’s impossible not to crinkle, squish and scrunch them on instinct. Bahnsen – who founded her label in 2015, and was a finalist in 2017’s LVMH Prize –is bolstering global renown with her voluminous and lighter-than-air aesthetic. Her feminine, comfortable and movement-encouraging designs are a welcome alternative to the oft restricting shapes associated with evening wear.
‘I love volume, I can’t help it!’ Bahnsen enthuses. Her label’s latest Pre Fall 2018 collection features puffball sleeved dresses with peplum frills, exaggerated tops with trailing tied straps, and smocks with Puritanical frilled collars. Velvet features, layered on top of crinoline for added lightness. ‘It bounces and becomes really sculptural,’ Bahnsen explains of the fabric combination. Her S/S 2018 collection featured a matelassé fabric that folds over the body like papery material, light yet voluminous.
Bahnsen works predominantly in black and white, enlivening her collections with flourishes of pink or yellow. ‘There’s a cleanness and purity that comes with it, it’s a fresh burst of air…then you can take in everything else that is going on’, she explains of her colour palette. The ‘goings-on’ for Pre Fall? Fastenings are tied with bows instead of buttons and seams, dresses and cropped jackets feature gauzy frills and frothy embellishments, and a Wales-produced chunky knit roll neck has an alluring open back. ‘I’ve always thought of my silhouettes as a canvas for embroidery and details,’ she says.
There’s also a ritualistic energy in Bahnsen’s designs, the repeated tie fastenings in her silhouettes calling for a methodical approach to dressing, and for time to contemplate individual details. The process of securing loose and comfortable details is almost an inversion of the archaic ritual of tightening a corset, or layering numerous petticoats. ‘It promotes an awareness in dressing’, she says. ‘I really enjoy it as I do it.’