Cathrine Hammel has a zen presence when you meet her in person. Much like her work, she is soft-spoken, attentive and above all respectful of her surroundings. Her brand which has existed since 1997 and continues to flourish is a testament to her underlying grit and obvious talent that soothes the senses of anyone who runs into her work in Parisian cafes or Norwegian afterparties.
Minimalism is a value often touted as a foundational philosophy of an overwhelming number of scandi artists. And in that regard, Cathrine is no different. But her longevity within the fashion business is not a product of timidity or risk adverseness but of exceptional guile and vision. Her Oslo atelier which is full of her current SS20 collection is brimming with that guile and clarity. You will find a wide array of functionality and sophistication languishing in cozy abandon like a lazy philosopher who knows how to appreciate the mystery of living in Cathrine’s work. The current collection titled “the Urban Farmer” provides a glimpse of the future while maintaining a strong thread firmly attached to the foundational values of the brand. Some might find some aspect of the visual rather esoteric and niche', and rightly so, as this is not a brand overtly concerned with mass production but wants to remain firmly on the grounds of slow fashion. By incorporating sustainability as a form of living as opposed to an over-chewed word-snus all scandi brands like to spit out every cycle like an anthem, Cathrine Hammel walks the walk as much as she talks the talk. The sustainable fabrics, clean and equitable supply chain are just part of the process that makes Cathrine's work stand out beyond the realm of minimalism or slow fashion. It is a great case study of a fashion business completely comfortable with itself and knows what it is doing. Urban farmer is ambitious it in its inclusivity and self sustaining measures. Light, ethereal, slightly removed from the blemishes of a time fraught with schisms of human consciousness. Cathrine’s work is a steady escape into a space of soft comfort. Some might find element of Chekov’s cherry garden or Sattyajit Roy’s visual cues as a form of foundational aesthetics for the whole experience of the Urban farmer, but upon closer inspection Cathrine’s work is just her work. She encapsulates some high handed levity and some low brow grit, but finds balance unlike most of us, and there lies her genius.
Visual cues taken from traditional Norwegian aesthetics and meshed into an egalitarian expression of art is probably the only way to describe Cathrine's overall work. And as fashion becomes more egalitarian, more eco-conscious and more about diversity, Cathrine's work just might finally fit into an eco-system that fully comprehends the gravity of her omnipresence through the means of talent and grit. Catherine's work may be Norwegian but her appeal is surely global.
Photographs Courtesy of Omi with a special thanks to Fushion Oslo + Leica + Vogue Italia