Being described as one of the ‘grand old men’ of Scandinavian fashion might seem a bit harsh considering Henrik Vibskov only recently turned 40. But with everything the fashion designer has accomplished in his career, it does feel like he’s been around a very long time.
Since graduating from Central Saint Martins in London in 2001, Vibskov has produced more than 20 menswear and womenswear collections. Known for his quirky, avant-garde style, he produces shows as famous for their imaginative staging as the clothes. But it was music - not fashion - that was his first passion. And when I went to meet him in his harbourside studio in Copenhagen, it was music we ended up talking about.
‘You know why I started in a band?’ Vibskov asks me. ‘It was a really good way to impress the girls.’ We laugh and he goes on to explain how having siblings ten years older than himself shaped his musical influences. Says the fashion designer: ‘My sister was into Danish bands while my brother listened to Miles Davis, funk and acid rock.’
In the 1980s, he started forming his own musical tastes. ‘I was into hip hop – Grandmaster Flash and Malcolm McLaren,’ says Vibskov. ‘At 13 I was in my own band, playing the drums. We were inspired by Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, David Bowie.’ The choice of drums came about when his brother and sister, who played bass and guitar respectively, gave him a set when he was ten.
Vibskov joined Danish indie band Luksus in the 1990 and music continued to be an integral part of his life, even after he changed tack to fashion. Recently he’s been touring again and he’s also landed a record deal. ‘It’s so fascinating what you can do with sound. You can really affect people with sound – and the direction is up to you,’ he says.
I ask him what’s been the defining moment of his career. ‘A friend who was very ill when I was going off to play a concert said to me, “Make sure you enjoy it!” I had a thousand things on my mind, but those words made me stop. Make sure you enjoy it.’
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Words by Oscar Lashley; Photography by Niels Müller (portrait) & Alastair Philip Wiper (show)