Copenhagen AW17 : Henrik Vibskov and the Phantom Limbs of Escapism

by Omi

Reporting Lotus Ladegaard  

If fashion was magic Henrik Vibskov would be Houdini. Not because he is at the top of his game or he is the standout performer on his stage (he is) but because all of his work is rooted in escapism. Before we delve into the intricacies of his work (and there are many) it is worth noting that all of those intricate designs, minimalism, are brush strokes on a far bigger canvas. And that is the condition of buying into his work. You become part of it, but a miniscule part of a grand narrative which hasn't come to full fruition yet. In each passing show like the slight of hand of a magician Henrik redirects the attention while remaining true to his only protagonist... Escapism.  

The commonly accepted view is that Henrik Vibskov is much more than a designer and it is the correct way of measuring his work. He is a multi-dimensional artist who creates a multitude of twisted yet tantalizing universes that correlate with reality yet surpasses the objective form of aesthetics in many ways. 

Every season, Henrik Vibskov's show garners a hysteria of curiosity in a country that is traditionally reserved (when alcohol is not involved) and Henrik seems to casually surpass all expectation. Henrik brings out the inner child of each Dane which they hide so well underneath their layered parkas and polite demeanour. Philosophy and dissection of aesthetic aside, Henrik's role within the Danish fashion industry has evolved from his Central St. Martins days into a new form of royalty and while there are other more traditionalist designers plotting to Macbethian upheaval, the reality is Henrik has become the supreme Master of his domain and will remain so unless one of those severed limbs from his show decide to cut loose and attack their creator. 

In terms of details, Henrik's AW17 collection featured a line of Vibskov-leather shoes in different colors as well as a greater variety of surfaces and materials such as bonded wool, coupé jacquards, heavy raw and washed denim, waxed British cotton, Danish knitwear and thermo-coats with a filling of recycled plastic bottles. Models walked the circular floor stage of the theater with performance artists in the middle creating more distraction, more slight of hands, more surrealism and ultimately layering escapism as a warm blanket.

In his latest form of horror inspired escapism, the Vibskov universe was littered with scenes of deformed yogis aligned to perform a series of synchronized movements in a controlled rusty red theater. If Indian Kathak and Japanese Kabuki had a baby in Denmark, it would look exactly like this. 

The inspiration of this collection also stems from painted wooden toys, puzzles and board games from the 60ies as monochrome prints, hand-coloured and earth toned graphics. The color scheme was refreshing yet very wintery with dark blues, denim blues, black, white, blush, beige and different prints, pleats and stripes. Striped pieces with round shapes, partly gathered and frilled or overlapping in different layers challenged the eye and offered a very editorial collection with something for the fashion forwards, the sophisticated professionals as well as something for a young edgy and trendy audience. 

Henrik Vibskov’s AW17 fits in nicely (or loosely) into the grand narrative of his work. By the time he gets done we may very well be living in an alternative universe and it just might be better than the real thing.