Cecilie Bahnsen on new collection, textile experimentations and lucky mistakes

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For the first time showing in Paris, Cecilie Bahnsen presents a movie featuring her new collection “My Heart Is Pounding”, made in collaboration with musician Okay Kaya, accompanied by a series of photographs, shot in Tokyo by Takashi Homma . Displayed in a gallery in the capital’s cool Marais neighborhood , the beautifully arranged presentation invite us to embark on a creative journey; a one-way ticket to Bahnsen’s universe where details, fabric experimentations, volumes, hold hands to create a sumptuous symphony.
And the clothes of the uber-talented Danish designer have a life of their own…they express a need to be felt, observed, appreciated; each silhouette strikes.
Fabric itself is the star of the show here, the brand being know for its experimentations and sustainable approach. JDEED spoke to Bahnsen to know more about her new collection and if Fashion should be revolutionary.

Interview/Cynthia Jreige


CB: When I design, I always start with the fabric development, this is what we do and it’s a big passion of mine. This season, I really wanted to work with flowers, and their silhouette .
(Pointing at the blue look) It’s about the silhouette of the flower : you can fold the flowers, create shadows… I think what we’ve all missed is the touch of things. We wanted to celebrate the textures, both how they’re felt, how they sound…You can even hear how some flowers sound, they have a papery feel to them.
We really fell in love with developing the textile and from there on, we took it onto the mannequin, building on from silhouette from past season. We get inspired by how the girls in the studio wear some pieces, sometime they’ll tuck the piece in, roll up the sleeves…
At the end for the shapes, some are “accidental” drapes but there was something so beautiful and effortless with that kind of approach. There are some asymmetrical elements as well.
For some of the jackets, we used more masculine materials, like bonded cotton or a raincoat fabric. 
I really tried to also add in this masculine contrast. As per colors, our previous collections have been really monochromatic, so we really wanted this one to have a positive energy to it. We added some colors by starting with the red. From there, we made the “sorbet”, the soft pink and then the blue and the orange, which kind of added contrast. In the end, I really think it has some sort of a unity to it and it’s very new for us. We put a lot of love and emotion into creating. 

Which is the first piece you designed?

CB: It was the red one this season. We started working with small delicate flowers which we then scaled up and worked with the folds so you really get a stronger red depending on the layering. We then we went onto simpler silhouettes for the “sorbet” and then with the pink, for which we work with hand pleating . You can have amazing silhouettes that hold themselves because the fabric is so crispy. I actually always start designing in white so some of the strong silhouettes are also the white ones.

You’re so known for textile experimentation, is there always something new you learn every season?

CB: We always try to find something new. It’s the first time we work with the pleating and we found a way to do our own. Instead of a regular pleat, we kind of wanted to twist it, again a little bit for the shadows. That was new for us this season.
Then there’s the laser cutting you see in the blue silhouette. It’s always about finding a way to do something super modern but in our way. However, we’re still quite traditional in the way we work the textiles. For example, I’m still working with a Broderie Anglaise in a kind of laser cut; I think it’s always about challenging things.
We also have rubber this season. We actually had to work every piece alone because the machine can only make small pieces. In the end, you have to work within boundaries of what is possible and find your own ways. It’s always inspiring to learn. 

Do you think it’s important for fashion to be revolutionary?

CB: I think for me it’s a balance. I love finding old techniques and bringing them back to life while keep cherishing the crafts but still add your touch to it so remains relevant. I think there are so many things like – this weave. When we first started working with it a couple years back they could only do it 30 centimeters wide so we’ve been working to actually get it so big to make it work for us.
That way, we preserved a technique that otherwise maybe would have disappeared. I think there’s a beauty to that. I hope my pieces on their own are timeless and something you will hold onto and that you can pair with a piece from a season before and a season in the future. The pieces kind of compliment each other because we never really abandon anything, we just build on top of it and that’s for me what works creatively. Just to keep refining what we do is actually very interesting.

We’re back to in real life events and your clothes, they’re living. How does it feel to be back at a physical presentation?

CB: I think for us to be back and to have you come and feel and see the collection, it’s what we dreamt of and missed. See the clothes live is a lot of why we do it as well. I miss the Runway which will probably be in February, we didn’t wanna take the chance yet. It’s also the first time for us in Paris, which is a major step. This season was more about celebrating the collaborations. We worked with a musician called Okay Kaya for the music in the film for which she has done a sound installation and Takashi Homma for pictures: he received 15 silhouettes which he had carte blanche to shoot in his way in Tokyo. It’s about working with people who complement the collection. Next step will be the runway but yes, we miss it.

Can you tell us a bit about the movie that is showing?

CB: I wanted the movie to be quite pure and sensitive and make it really about the clothes and the girls wearing them. I wanted for the public to see it from afar but also up close and connect with it. The music is from Okay Kaya. We’ve been listening to her a lot in the studio and the way she creates music is pretty much the same way I create a collection, it’s almost like a therapy. It’s where I meditate, where I disappear. There’s a purity to it , there’s no retouch, no special effects, it is what it is.
At the end of the day when we shot the film, it rained and I was like “but my silhouettes! They’re no meant to be like this.” But then, with the wet floor, all the colors reflected so it was like I got two of each girls. Sometimes lucky mistakes inspire us, even if it’s not what you first imagined, it is what it became.