Having covered both Copenhagen and Stockholm fashion weeks Ithought I had a good understanding of Scandinavian style. Then, this past weekend the Norwegian FashionInstitute invited me to Oslo to take a closer look at the brewing creative scenes of Norway. I spent just over a day in the Nordic land scoping style – well – and tried to stay clear of the crowds that surrounded the World Ski Championships the city was also hosting.
I set three primary “happenings” on my agenda: first to viewthe Pop-Up Book exhibitionin Oslo’s Posthallen or Old Post House, where a mixing of installations were described as a Dugnad – a Norwegian word that loosely translating to a group of people getting together and voluntarily working towards a common goal that benefits the community. Seeminglya pet project of the design collective Norwegian Rain, the brand and its friends from both Bergen and Oslo erected a similar project in Milan last fall. I found the evening to be equal parts experimental and finish, it was a fantastic first education from the new guard of creative thinkers in Norway.
Next I met with Kirsti Brain the Dean of the fashion department at the National Academy of the Arts, who is a former Fulbright scholar and studied at F.I.T., Brain offered to take me on a private tour of their new design facility. The Academy is now located on a compound of warehouses that formerly produced the massive sails that powered their grand Norwegian ships. Perhaps a bit of foreshadowing considering these young talents might carry Norway into the future, creatively.Lastly it was my aim to get a feel for the city without a tour director – I wanted to walk the street, I wanted to roam the halls, I simply wanted to get lost. This I did by way of the local transit system, my trusty but wet leather bottomed John Varvatos shoes and my friendly concierge at the Thon Panorama Hotel.
Highlights for me: the private tours at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Arts Academy as well as the generally positive nature of the Norwegian people. Underneath the hooded and quilted jackets you saw smiling people not phased by the conditions – they were happy to stand outside underneath an umbrella at their outdoor fair skling a beer despite the constant snow flurry and sub-zero weather. It is no wonder that brands like Norwegian Rain are revlotionizing style with the elements at mind – perhaps this will be in part Norway’s thumbprint?
Kristopher Arden-Houser, born in California, now lives and works between New York City and Antwerp, BE. Visit http://from1000.tumblr.com/