Your Autumn/Winter 09 presentation and collection was cinematic and striking, quite unlike anything else on the catwalks this season. You seemed to have an interesting mix of contrary themes – there were both Amish and circus inflections, hippie and American settler, bold hats and make-up…
Henrik Vibskov: I don't really work from one overall theme, but consciously do the opposite. The collections are modelled on a continuous process of gathering of images and material. It can be a thought, or a detail, or small research project, something from an exhibition, a book or a character. But true, Amish was in it this time; all the materials were pretty basic and rough.
Where did you grow up – and were you surrounded by art, music and fashion or was it something you sought out on your own?
Henrik Vibskov: I grew up in the green countryside of Jutland, which is a part of Denmark. I was introduced to drums by my brother and started break-dancing later... That was really my world, and I still very much need to go to the countryside sometimes today.
Why did you get into fashion initially – was being a fashion designer something you always dreamed of?
Henrik Vibskov: There was a girl I fancied in Denmark, who planned to go to Central Saint Martins, and although I had no intention of studying there, I just told her, ‘Oh yeah, I’m going too.’ But I totally forgot about it until I met her weeks later, and she asked me if I was still going. So I called the college and got an interview appointment the next day, I prepared a folio during the night, jumped on the plane next morning... And got in. I also got the girl actually.
You started out in music and then art, fashion and film; you seem to be a bit of an all-round creative…
Henrik Vibskov: I was basically interested in all subjects both on a small scale like fashion, where you fumble around with buttons and the smallest stitches, to art installations that conquer the entire room. I’m also drawn to the emotional aspect of music as well, so I combined them all!
What is the fashion scene in Denmark like? There are so many innovative young designers coming out of Scandinavia…
Henrik Vibskov: There is this excitement about Scandi shops and people interested in Scandi fashion, which is great. I talk to other Scandinavian designers and do co-labs, like with Helle Mardahl. I also have my shop, the V-Store, where we sell Stine Goya, Bibi Ghost and Trine Wackerhaus.
You are known for balancing fashion and art projects – what are some of the projects you have been working on outside of designing for your label?
Henrik Vibskov: I have been working a lot with the Swedish graphic designer Andreas Emenius in
| the past year. We put on a series of exhibitions together called the ‘Fringe Projects’ – the concept inspired by the fringy bit in the middle where our two styles and practices meet. We experimented with all sorts of objects and techniques, performance, installations, magazines and video work. The central elements were hairy fringes, we covered everything with them; fringe beer, jumping fringe trolls and fringe photographs – where Emenius and I were seated together like in a family portrait, but with everything covered in fringing, including the wall and our faces. We just did a big show in the Zeuws Museum in the Netherlands, where all projects where shown and we drove around in the Fringe Car.
Do you purposely try to merge fashion with art through your label?
Henrik Vibskov: No, I don't even think in those categories... I follow my ideas and then work out in which project they fit. I don't think about fashion and all its rules and systems.
Is your flagship store in Copenhagen as unconventional as your label?
Henrik Vibskov: It's in a basement, and has wooden panels on the walls that hang loosely from the ceiling. When you walk by the panels move and you can see wild print behind them. We also have a small side room with a floor covered in soil – at the beginning; the smell of soil was really nice. We stock other designers there that we like including Bless, Walter van Beirendonck, Cosmic Wonder, Stine, Bibi, Wackerhaus, and magazines such as Fantastic Man.
Any projects or collaborations for 2009 and beyond?
Henrik Vibskov: Hmm, yes there is the Fabrik for Thought exhibition at Koldinghus in Denmark and of course Paris Fashion Week, menswear, in June. The Fringe Projects will also be presented at Hyères, and I will be doing summer lectures at London’s Central Saint Martins College.