I arrive in Copenhagen fresh as a daisy, ready to grab Scandinavia by its scrunchie-wearing horns. Just kidding! I didn’t sleep on the plane because I am my own worst enemy and I still haven’t mastered the art of sleeping on planes — or the art of chic travel attire, for that matter, so I look exactly how I feel: tired.
However, by the time I’m in my hotel room and faced with the opportunity to curl up in one of the side-by-side twin beds for a much-needed nap, something miraculous happens. I don’t want to take a nap! I’m energized simply by looking out my window at the Copenhagen skyline! Naps can wait until I’m back on American soil.
I’m freshly showered and wearing my favorite blue kaftan from SZ Blockprints plus translucent pink Mars sunglasses and a T-shirt wrapped on top of my head. The T-shirt is because I’m in the midst of plopping, an integral aspect of my curly hair routine I will wax upon at great length in my upcoming Man Repeller Hair Diary. But anyways, I remove the T-shirt and unleash my wet hair before skipping my way out of the hotel in search of sustenance. I have a dinner in exactly 1.5 hours, but who cares? I’m hungry, and I’m in Copenhagen.
I walk to the Torvehallerne food court, which is super close to my hotel. There are so many little stalls selling food, flowers, coffee and other alluring delights that I’m immediately overwhelmed-in-a-good-way. I’m prepared to explore, but then I spot a window full of smørrebrød (Denmark’s famous, open-faced sandwiches) and stop dead in my tracks. I order one with chicken salad and devour it standing up before I can take a photo.
I get some work done at the hotel while contemplating what to wear to dinner, a seated event hosted by Copenhagen Fashion Week to celebrate its seasonal inauguration. I decide on a sundress from Naya Rea with side cut-outs — or, as Haley calls them, “platonic peepholes.”
I’m at the dinner! There are so many people here! I’m sitting next to Mads Peterson, the co-director of the Copenhagen International Fashion Fair. We chat about which shows we’re most excited to see and the merits of Scandinavia’s serious bicycle habit. I’m not super hungry because of my late afternoon snack, but I eat some chicken because it’s delicious, and I’m in Copenhagen.
After filing copy for a story about why celebrities are bad at Instagram, I promptly fall into the deepest slumber I’ve had since I was in utero.
I start my first official day of Copenhagen Fashion Week at a press breakfast showcasing up-and-coming designers in the Nordic region. Much to my jet-lagged delight, there is a little mobile espresso machine on wheels outside the venue. I get a latte.
Although there is plenty of sustenance in terms of fashion inspiration, there isn’t much in the way of actual food at the breakfast, so I join a couple other editors for a second course of eggs and bacon in the hotel’s dining room.
I answer emails and finish editing a story. (I know, I know, snoozeeeeeeee, keep scrolling for Copenhagen content).
Three other editors and I arrive at the Morten Ussing show venue exactly on time. Our driver, Niclas, is worried that “exactly on time” means I’m late, but I assure him that fashion shows tend to operate on a half-an-hour-or-later delay like a moody teen.
Sure enough, the show starts exactly half an hour late. I sip on my ginger soda while taking in the collection, a smorgasbord of bright colors, clever woven accessories and translucent dresses and skirts layered over high-waist underwear.
I head back to the Torvehallerne food court to get something to eat for lunch. I pass a stall for the Danish chain Palæo, which I remember someone recommending to me via Instagram. I’m not paleo, but the food looks good, so I stop and order a wrap. I eat it on my way back to the hotel. It’s a bit funky (there are whole almonds in it, which I’ve never had inside a wrap before), but I like it.
I arrive half an hour late to the Mark Kenly Domino Tan show due to a carpooling delay, but fortunately it doesn’t start for another 10 minutes. I love the collection: low-slung trousers, perfect trench coats and deconstructed blazers galore. I’m still thinking about the opening look in particular, and how such a simple outfit (blue jeans, a blue blazer and a slightly oversized white T-shirt) can somehow say exactly what you need it to.
I chat briefly with Simon Chetrit (of Man Repeller fashion week street style photography fame) outside the venue before hopping in a car and heading to Cecilie Bahnsen.
I AM SO EXCITED FOR CECILIE BAHNSEN. In the three years since starting her brand, Bahnsen has cemented her place as an industry darling, wooing everyone from editors to buyers to shoppers with her penchant for comfortable silhouettes and traditional techniques like quilting and patchwork. The Spring 2019 show is located inside a ginormous white-floored warehouse lined with a single row of seats around its entire perimeter. A hush falls over the crowd as soon as the first look emerges from behind a curtain: a white quilted top paired with a matching skirt and pearl-decorated Suicoke sandals. The entire collection is, in a word, dreamy, filled with the kind of clothes that practically beg to be seen and touched up-close.
My last show of the day is Stine Goya, a brand known for its unique ability to marry contrasting prints in surprising and delightful ways. The Spring 2019 collection is no exception; inspired by Italian architect and interior designer Renzo Mongiardino, each outfit is like an artfully curated room, replete with different textures, unexpected shapes and whimsical accents. My favorite detail? Silk scarves knotted under bucket hats, because two head accessories are always better than one.
I take myself out for dinner alone, an idea that usually terrifies me, but I’m trying to overcome my need to be constantly occupied with something — conversation, my computer, a book, my phone — and learn to sit peacefully with my own thoughts.
I end up going to Souls, a casual restaurant near the hotel with a seemingly endless number of positive reviews on Trip Advisor. I order a salad with tofu, sweet potatoes, hummus, quinoa, edamame beans, avocado and cashew-curry dressing. I’m not exaggerating: It might be the best salad I’ve ever had. I eat it at a small table outside, surrounded by groups of young people drinking beer and speaking Danish, watching the sun set on the city.
I pay a visit to the Ganni showroom, which in addition to being filled with cool clothes is also filled with cool chairs, a cool urn and cool blue raspberry candy. It is, in other words, very cool. I meet Alexandra (the brand’s head of PR), who kindly lets me pick something out to wear to the show tomorrow. I immediately start spiraling from indecision, but Alexandra makes a beeline for a hot pink midi dress, holds it out in front of me and yep, that’s it.
I wake up, put on my favorite milkmaid dress from Maryam Nassir Zadeh and go downstairs to eat breakfast in the hotel. I’m eating alone but my phone is now charged to 100% battery and I did not sit peacefully with my own thoughts.
Upon arrival at the venue for By Malene Birger, I’m greeted by bouquets of flowers and a sparkling row of glass-bottled waters infused with various fruits and herbs. I choose one bobbing with cantaloupe balls and sip it as I make my way towards the back of the huge room. All of the seats are dotted with paper accordion fans, which guests are using to cool flushed cheeks in the unusual Copenhagen heat. I unfold mine and flap it breezily, feeling very ladylike.
Waiting for shows to start is typically when my anxiety starts to kick in. I’m still a relative newbie on the fashion scene, so I don’t have many close or even semi-close friends in the industry (a work in progress), but I’m pleasantly surprised by how open and chatty everyone is here compared to New York. I feel so much affection for the people who strike up conversation with me I could kiss them, but I don’t, because I’m drinking cantaloupe-infused water.
The show is great (high energy, lots of bold silhouettes, fun bags), but I’m drawn to one look in particular: a maxi-length striped shirt dress paired with strappy kitten heel sandals. So easy, so refreshing. I want to recreate it as soon as possible.
I have tons of free time before my next show, so after getting a bit of writing done, I head out to explore. I’m wearing my best exploring outfit: a short slip dress from LHD, Lowercase sunglasses and my trusty Maryam Nassir Zadeh sandals (trusty because they never give me blisters, which is key for walking adventures). For lunch, I’m embarrassed to admit that I went back to Souls and got the exact same salad I ate the day before. I know! Lame! I’m supposed to be exploring! But it was THAT GOOD.
I hit up a few vintage stores nearby that were recommended by people on Instagram, starting with Times Up, a small and very well-curated shop with a great selection of floral sundresses. Next, I head to the 90s mecca that is Wasteland, where I try on a seemingly infinite number of Bermuda-length denim shorts. I can’t seem to find a pair that fits me perfectly, but only because I’m impatient a.k.a. eager to head to my third stop. I walk around the corner to Carmen Copenhagen, which ends up being my least favorite of the stores, but still fun to visit. To conclude my window-shopping spree, I walk in the direction of Holy Golightly, a luxury fashion retailer famous for its aesthetically-pleasing interior and collection of high-end brands — or so I heard. Sadly I can’t corroborate, because I can’t find the store! I wander in circles near the designated address for about 15 minutes before giving up and making my way back to the hotel. My phone’s map must be glitching. Alas.
Dressed in my unmissable hot pink dress, I’m dropped off at a mysterious-looking warehouse for the Ganni show. Inside, there are gargantuan shipping containers that perfectly frame the uber-long runway. I chat with my friend Anaa for a bit before heading to my seat, where I meet Jenny Walton, an illustrator whose incredible personal style I’ve admired on Instagram for a long time. Meeting people in the era of social media is so weird huh? I repress my urge to tell her how much I loved the white top and skirt she wore last week.
Wow! This show! It’s so much fun, and such an interesting direction for the brand — significantly more “outdoorsy” than previous collections. Instead of feminine floral-print dresses there are anoraks, hiking books, bungee cord belts, cargo pants and fleece vests galore. The Dopp kit clutches are my personal favorite touch, one I can easily see becoming a street style mainstay.
The Baum und Pferdgarten show is set inside an auction house, which provides some very entertaining artistic eye candy as I wait for people to be seated. Baum und Pferdgarten was founded in 1999, so it’s one of the more established Danish houses. It’s also one of the most distinctly wearable, typically offering a selection of colorful pieces that are easily mixed and matched. This season was no exception, featuring items like like two-tone jeans, windbreakers, pink trousers, structured jumpsuits and gingham knits. In other news, I’m hungry for a snack.
I venture out in search of sustenance to tide me over until dinner. I decide to indulge in my adult right to eat dessert cream before my main meal and promptly head in the direction of an ice cream shop called ParadIS. I get two scoops of Oreo in a cup and eat it on a bench outside. I’m sufficiently sustained.
The Saks Potts show is about to start — 40 minutes late, but who cares! It’s as if everyone can tell it’s going to be worth the wait. There’s something distinctly anticipatory about the atmosphere inside the venue, which is wall-to-wall carpeted in white and smells like orange blossoms. Suddenly the lights go dark and a horde of leotard-clad dancers march into the center of the room. They perform an intricately coordinated routine I would gladly watch again and again for hours. The lights go dark again and a lone model dressed like the White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia emerges from a side door. Illuminated by a single spotlight, she looks like she’s floating. Her dramatic entrance heralds the true beginning of the show — an array of Olympics-inspired ensembles ranging from lime green lycra to flame-printed jumpsuits. Worth the wait indeed.
I arrive at Ganni’s celebratory post-show dinner, hosted at designer Ditte Reffstrup’s her home. The entire house is emptied of furniture, save for a makeshift bar where peach cocktails abound, and a DJ booth in a room filled with silver streamers. I text my boyfriend that James Murphy (of LCD Soundsystem) is DJing. He’s a huge fan.
I head into the kitchen where I find stacks of porcelain bowls and a huge vat of lentil soup. I’m deliriously hungry, so I ladle myself a huge bowlful and walk outside to find somewhere to sit. I immediately run into Brandon Borror-Chappell, comedian and Man Repeller contributor extroadinaire. I’m so happy to see someone I know. I chat with him and his girlfriend, InStyle Editor-in-Chief Laura Brown, while attempting to elegantly slurp my soup without spilling.
I feel a tap on my shoulder and turn around to see Lisa Williams, the founder of Lisa Says Gah. She introduces herself and her husband, and I talk to them about what it’s like being on the buying side of the industry until I see Fashionista Editor-in-Chief Alyssa Vingan walking towards us with a hot dog in hand and gasp. Some context: I’d heard rumblings that the Ganni party would be serving famous hot dogs, catered by chef-of-the-moment Frederik Bille Brahe, so I was very excited to try them. After confirming their deliciousness, Alyssa guided me around to the back of the house where the hot dogs were being served. I secured one smothered in sauerkraut and headed back to my seat…
Which was now occupied by none other than supermodel Frederikke Sofie, a.k.a. my curly-hair idol! I legitimately bring her photo to my colorist every time I get highlights. I’ve never been more delighted to have my seat stolen. I stand and stare at her hair in what I hope is the least creepy way possible while I try to elegantly eat my hot dog without spilling.
I grab a quick breakfast downstairs in the hotel before heading out into the city for a run. I end up running through King’s Garden, which is the oldest park in the city and so tranquil I almost feel like I’m trespassing.
After doing some work, packing up all my bags and checking out at the front desk, I run into Alyssa of Fashionista again in the hotel lobby. Her flight was cancelled due to technical issues, so she’s stranded in Copenhagen for the next two days. Given I have lots of time to kill before my evening flight, we decide to get some lunch and walk around for a bit. I haven’t been to Copenhagen’s trendy eatery Atelier September yet (it was recommended to me by at least 100 people on Instagram), so we head in that direction. The restaurant’s most-hyped dish is avocado toast. Living in New York, I’ve somewhat avocado toasted-out, so I’m wary of ordering it, but in this case it seemed silly not to. When it comes and I take a bite, I’m alarmed that I almost didn’t get it. It’s fantastic — definitely on par with my favorite avocado toast of all time (Bluestone Lane, for the uninitiated).
We wander down to Nyhavn, Copenhagen’s waterfront district and sit down for awhile on one of the many floating barges. The parallel rows of 17th- and 18th-Century townhouses are so brightly-colored they almost look fake, like charming, super-sized homes for dolls.
One quick jaunt to Boyy and Arket later, I part ways with Alyssa to return to the hotel. On my walk back, I think about what made the past four days feel so special. It’s a strange and interesting time to be working in fashion. A lot of changes are taking place: print magazines are folding, designers are decamping from New York to Paris, sustainability is becoming more and more urgent, brands are popping up on Instagram and people are reevaluating how they do things and why. With change comes discomfort, and sometimes, cynicism. But as a new and young editor in the industry, I still feel quite a bit starry-eyed about the whole thing.
At fashion weeks, intermingled with my anxiety about not having anyone to talk to, a palpable sense of joy shines through every time I sit down at a show. In New York that feeling can seem almost cheesy, but in Copenhagen, I feel it shining right back. Denmark’s fashion industry is pulsing with joy. Fashion is now the country’s fourth-largest export. It’s riddled with comfortable shoes, frilly dresses and rhinestone claw clips. Everyone looks excited to be there — openly, unabashedly, uncynically.
I retrieve my suitcase from the hotel’s storage room. Riding down the escalator, like Saks Potts’ illuminated White Witch, I feel like I’m floating.
Feature photo by Simon Chetrit.