LAST WEEK I MET: HENRIK VIBSKOV PART 2
Henrik Vibskov has creative blood running through his nerves and it shines through everything he does. He wants to touch people and make them react in unexpected ways – he wants to make them think in different ways. It is possible to feel his wish of making a change, his strong spirit and enthusiasm in every word he says. At the same time he is aware of how the fashion industry works and is a hardened player in the game. A part of his education was found on what possibly might be the best design school in the world, Central St. Martins in London. On this school he was not the most popular student – people thought of his creations as weird and non-understandable. This education and an atmosphere of opposition might have made him even more resistant into shaping into what other people might want him to be like. Besides this he incorporated important, valuable financial knowledge.
“We had a tough professor on Central St. Martins. She said:
You’re not a fucking shit before you’ve done ten collections.
It was about the fact that everyone can go out, borrow some money and make a collection – but if you don’t have any consumers it can’t work out. You see a lot of people that are talk-of-the-town for a few seasons and then they disappear. It is all about the consumers. You have to harmonize with your projects cause if you don’t sell your brand can’t exist. If our company were to be more commercial we would go by a lot easier than we do. It is a choice that we make – not everything that you see on the catwalk gets sold and some pieces only comes out in a few copies. That is a lot compared to the bill for the heat in our studio. We have a creative base.”
When he was about to create his final collection at Central St. Martins he chose to go on tour and play drums – a decision that his teachers truly disliked. He finds it important to create space in order to make new things happen, as he believes that creativity shall be pushed and developed naturally. When he showed his final collection his career kicked off and he was highly discussed in the British media. Although his success proceeded he chose to go back to Copenhagen. He sticks to his intrinsic values but is aware of his possibilities of expanding his brand.
“Why the fuck are you coming back?” people asked me when I went back to Copenhagen. I got a lot of press in England – Dazed & Confused, morning TV and all that – and when I met the same people in Paris a few years later they were wondering where I’d been. They said I disappeared and I told them that I went to Copenhagen, which is not that far away and on the other hand it actually is. 80 % of what we do is not sold on the Danish market. It doesn’t make sense at all to make a fashion show here. It would make sense to participate in a bigger fashion week. I can run around in Tokyo and do crazy stuff and nobody understands but people understand a show in Copenhagen and there is a social aspect of our business here. It is nice to show for our friends here but people tell me to go outside Denmark. We’re thinking of skipping Copenhagen and maybe do our show in New York, maybe that would bring something new to our business. It is cool that the Danish newspapers like the collection but how far do we get with that? It would be cooler to have a good review in The New York Times. But on the other hand – it is important for us to do it here. Our friends are here and it is fun and creative. Making a show is a lot about acknowledgement. Not acknowledgement from people you don’t know but acknowledgement from people you care about – from family and friends. We want to fucking show them what we have created.”
It is clear that he is a very experienced man. I was curious of getting to know his process and get to know how he can transform an idea based on floating in water into a runway show, but in Vibskov’s situation is not that complicated at all. The way he works is the complete opposite of what his advanced, fluttering and colourful clothes radiate; no bullshit is to be found in his process from words into action.
“I make super fast sketches. I want the team to be with me. First the sketches, then we order the fabrics. We spend a lot of time on research and then things go really fast. We work really, really fast. Not that much of discussion. Sometimes we loose the perspective of fashion and it turns out to be pure creative display and experiment. The cool thing is if we get to produce some products that are valuable and sell. We are masters in creating things that are not sellable. But we’re slowly learning.”
I ask him if he ever gets inspired of centuries as many other designers do. Once again he reminds me that he is unique and independent.
“I think we could be more focused on fashion. Fashion is a pendulum that swings and we keep on seeing reflections of earlier tendencies. I think we could learn of focusing a bit more on that, but on the other hand it is a nice thing that we’re not – it executes weird things but also unique products. Of course one is always affected by this post-modernistic society that we’re a part. The media is bombing us with pictures, Instagram and all that and without even noticing our intuition are sensing. It’s interesting.”
Vibskov, born in the suburbs of Denmark is now well known and respected throughout the world. It is charming how his courage and unpretentiousness shines through as he speaks. As for a summary he ends:
“I’ve kept on doing things, no matter if I had any money or not. Just keep going – customers come and go. Now retrospective exhibitions are coming up, one in Finland and one in Korea. It feels a bit weird – am I suddenly this old?”
41 years old and a retrospective exhibition in Korea show once and for all what a genius Vibskov is. When I leave his small studio I feel a bit wiser, a bit more experienced. He has made my thoughts run fast and I feel encouraged to go out and work hard on my vision. Throughout his life he has created incredibly things and twisted people’s minds and imagination with his practical, intelligent and genius approach to fashion.