We have entered a new era of fashion where the dominance of Paris, Milan and New York is being boldly eroded by a new tribe of talented designers emerging from every continent, whose creations are best appreciated in their home towns. The latest stylistic boomtown is Reykjavik, whose fashion is a visual expression of its citizens’ gutsy energy, protective clothing, all-night partying and, above all, the uniquely bold beauty of its thoroughly offbeat women.
Most fashion shoots are set in East Village lofts or before the Eiffel Tower in Paris or on a drank street in Hackney to impress the readers by their alleged cool. That’s completely wrong. To support our new era of regional fashion – where inventive designers are springing up everywhere from Tbilisi and Riga to Rio and Reykjavik – these new talents need to be seen it in their true context. That’s why using the raw beauty of Iceland; its bluff drama, its rolling skies, its tumultuous topography, its avant-garde tailoring and the incendiary beauty of its women is so much cooler and better.
This dramatic Dreamland Journey shoot never falls into the classic mistake of attempting of be more than it is. Instead, Dreamland Journey is an honest, living reflection of the funky, earthy panache that is this rare jewel of an island isolated in the turbulence and mist of the north Atlantic.
No wonder photographer Erez Sebag and stylist Edda Gudmun stayed in Iceland, heading out of its capital to the country’s southern most city, Vik I Myrdal, whose black basalt sand beach gets attacked by giant Atlantic rollers.
Its fingers of basalt rock formed into giant cliff sentinels, were an ideal setting for the graphic elegance that is Icelandic chic, and the country’s two most energetic designers – Hildur Yeoman and Mundi.
This spring, in my first trip to ballsy badass Reykjavik and its once-a-year fashion festival I caught up with Hildur Yeoman, whose stellar showed featured a brilliant life version of Olivia Newtown Jones bubble gum dance classic Xanadu. Staged in Harpa, the beautiful dimpled glass concert and theater complex located at the atmospheric Old Port, Yeoman’s tribal babe vixens from the north go to an after party in a naughty after-hours bar was pretty damned brilliant.
As was a blooming great show by Mundi, who rocked out in the basement parking of Harpa in a post-Armageddon collection, where the black and white graphic apparel had poise and practicality – tough chic to fend off a icy street corner wind, cool clobber for the inner circle. A beautiful video by Mundi featured the actual clothes worn on models in the stunning Elliaarhraun lava fields, with shaven head scene stealer, Aron Bergmann Magnusson in the starring role as chiseled jaw beauties indulged in bizarre blue blood drinking rituals. Just the sort of lovely lassie Irish poets want to bring home to meet their mothers for Sunday lunch. No wonder Mundi and Aron became good buddies, two bold dandies with enough style and alcohol capacity to drink with an Irish writer.
Our Dreamland Journey was based around Mundi’s remote farmhouse, which is to Iceland what Karl’s Biarritz villa or Donatella’s via Gesu palazzo is to their cultures – i.e. the insiders’ ultimate hangout.
They were not the only designers to tastefully attire the local Icelandic women and their beautiful soft eyed, yet fierce lipped, allure. I could also only admire Ziska, by Harpa Einarsdottir, an exotic local artist whose cross of skinny Nordic rocker, mystical tales, faux Viking tattoos and dramatic crocheted black wool designs was dementedly cool and out there. And when in Iceland do check out Kormaks & Skjoldur, a gentlemanly duo whose basement store on the city's main shopping Mecca, Kjorgardur. Call it patrician chic for highland rambles and whisky fueled dinner parties. In other words, an Icelandic must-see.
Reykjavik Chic is all about stupendously funky parties, leggy local beauties, gloomy pink sunsets, silvery dawns and jagged silhouettes, best appreciated in this Dreamland Journey shoot. As you can tell I loved Iceland, ever outlandishly hip but always ultimately uber itself. Long may she stay that way, long may our fashion universe discover this chilly paradise of the north.