Nordic Attire

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Usually a straitjacket is a fashion don’t, but 2013 Designer’s Nest winner, Camilla Jæger, found a way to turn crazy into sassy. Jæger’s award winning line includes three ensembles that flaunt flowing fabrics and a basic color palette.

“I wanted to interpret the clothing patients were wearing during hospitalization at an historical asylum in Aarhus, Denmark. I envisioned the treatment methods, equipment used on the patients, and tried to put myself in a state of mind where I could imagine what they felt.” Jæger expressed the inspiration she received for the garments she produced for the show. Although asylums might bring terrifying memories to some, Jæger was able to turn her experience into a creative adventure of idea and innovation.

At the asylum, Jæger visited a department called Ovartaci, which is named after a former patient hospitalized there for 56 years. The young designer was intrigued by the art left by the patient, who was himself an amazing decorator and painter. Jæger continues, “At that time (and now) the patients were expressing themselves through art and craft. That way they had a free space for their thoughts and their mental illnesses.”

Jæger was born and raised in Aarhus, the second largest city in Denmark. Craftsmanship and creativity were two key traits her family always stressed. Both her mother and grandmother are magicians with fabric and needle who taught her the importance of white vintage lace.

As a designer, Jæger narrows in on making great fitting clothes for women and versatile designs in order to fit multiple body types. She is an advocate of quality over quantity and uses a wide range of wool, leathers, fur, natural rubber, and second-hand materials. Jæger has been a student at the TEKO Design and Business School in Aarhus for eight years. When asked what would be included in her future pieces, she responded that there will be a story hidden within each piece, details that will need to be discovered.

The Designer’s Nest is the first fashion design contest in which Jæger has ever participated. Jæger recalls the moment she realized she had won: “When the judge introduced the winning collection my body began to shake, and all thoughts left my mind. Tears began to roll down my cheeks, and a big smile came to my lips. My dream had come true in a split second.”

This exclusive competition grants the wish of momentary fame for young fashion designers studying in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland. The most creative and experimental students are plucked from their schools and shipped to Copenhagen to compete for a chance to win publicity for their handcrafted threads and a generous cash prize. The contest was created in 2003 and is held every February during Copenhagen Fashion Week.

“The goal was to create a platform where designers are able to get out into the media and get in touch with some producers or someone who would want to invest in them.” Jan Carlsen, the mastermind and creator of the competition, explained that there are no other outlets for young designers and schools to show their products. What started off as only a Danish design show blossomed into the highlight of the year for aspiring fashion designers across the entire Nordic region.

This year’s exposition included 27 student designers who all brought different dimension and zeal to the catwalk. From dress coats with striped orange and feathered sleeves to dark Scandinavian corsets, the contestants did not hesitate to use their imagination. Bruno Collin, editor-in-chief of WAD magazine Paris, who participated as a judge for the event admits, “Sometimes the problem with the young designers is that they are too far from reality. In this period in time when juries are going to a contest like this, they are always looking for ideas. They want to find a young designer who can help brand and build his own company.” Collin later adds that if student designers get too outrageous with their creations, it becomes difficult to judge.

Although it might have been quite difficult to judge a few participants, winner Jæger was able to grasp the attention and accolades that she deserves. Collin admits, “Camilla’s line was super nice. It was fantastic work, and that is why we chose her.”

Text by Nailah Morgan