Anybody in Aarhus

Danish Fashion Designers Challenge Body Ideals

It's no secret I'm a fan of Danish fashion. A peak in my closet will reveal it consists of nearly 90% Danish brands.

It wasn't always this way. For years, I struggled to fit into the latest fashions out of France, but I learned the hard way that these US size 12 hips can only slip into empire-waist dresses by local designers in Paris. So four years ago, on a trip to Copenhagen, I revamped my entire wardrobe. I did, as they say, get a little hygge with it (sorry, bad joke!) 

You see, fitting models generally come from the local population and thanks to my Danish blood, my body type is more big-boned than petite. Even at my thinnest, my hips and shoulders are too broad for petite wear. Danish designers seem to be aware of this, cutting their cloths broader and producing in larger not-quite-plus sizes. Some, like local designer Barbara I Gongini, even present their lines as androgynous, going for avant-garde draping that fits anyone of any size.

So I was really intrigued to see what designers would do as part of this living exhibition, ANYBODY, an experiment which took place in Aarhus as part of their European Capital of Culture program. For over a week, 15 designers presented their creations in a show window on Sondergade.  Commissioned to challenge the widespread perception of our bodies and the clothes we wear, the exclusive costumes reinterpret the body, pushing it past fashion's limits. The “Body and Beyond” program then has viewers thinking anew about the inadequacy we might feel about our own bodies when presenting out bodies to the world by reimagining our bodies as a root system, a computer virus and other wild notions. The clothes adorning these bodies then fit to those corporeal structures instead of the other way around.

Though the exhibition has ended, the ideas presented have provoked a conversation that's well worth considering: just how much does fashion dictate our vision of our bodies instead of the opposite. (ct)

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Images (c)Alexander Høllsberg, courtesy Visit Aarhus