One to watch

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Kristian Aadnevik is a Norwegian-born, London-based designer. His racy and unique style has already caught the attentions of pop icons such as Rihanna and he has been mentored by Alexander McQueen and Donatella Versace. Glass catches up with the rising star in his London studio.

How long have you been designing and how did you start?
I started my fashion career with tailoring at the Tailoring and Dressmaking Academy in my hometown in Bergen, Norway. The aim was to get in at one of the top fashion schools in the world and I was accepted for a Master of Arts at The Royal College of Art in London, which was my first choice.

This was a great experience for me and it was a really creative environment there where one could work alongside people from product design to architecture and fine art. After graduating in 2002 I worked for Alexander McQueen, Harrods International and Charles Jourdan before I gradually set up my own company. Later I also worked with Versace and Roberto Cavalli.

How would you describe your aesthetic?
It’s the contrast of the dark and the light – the hard passionate and mysterious against the feminine, soft vulnerable beauty. Leather and metal is contrasted against soft chiffon and delicate lace. Leather is a material that I personally connect with, it is alive and it has a story and a soul. Almost every creation of mine incorporates leather as part of the design. With my tailoring background the cut and silhouettes are created directly on the model’s body, working with the natural effeminate shapes, contrasting sharp cuts with soft layering and drapes.

Who are your style icons?
I’m inspired by people I meet and by things I see. Inspiration is everywhere. My muse is independent and untamed – she finds her soul in the wild nature under the open sky. She is in control of her destiny. My muse is not specific, but in my dreams and imaginations. Her story is always evolving and she explores life to the fullest.

You were spotted very early by Donatella Versace. Did she pass on any words of wisdom to you?

It was a real honour to be chosen by Donatella as her protégé. Versace has played such a big role in the history of fashion and especially in the 80s and 90s. Working with Versace I sensed that anything is possibly if you put your heart and soul into it – Gianni built the Versace empire in just 10 years. I learned to appreciate more the glamorous and feminine side, and the attention to details and craftsmanship.

As early as the 1950s, Christian Dior commented on the challenges of creating truly creative fashion in a market increasingly obsessed with maximum profit. What are the biggest challenges facing a young designer today?
I think that today we are in a very exciting time as the means of digital communication has changed the system and the reach. It is now possible for young new designers to compete with the big fashion house even on minimal budgets and resources in comparison. As a young designer I embrace the digital revolution and try to work with the changes of times and how the new generation communicates.

Creativity comes not only in the garments, but also the way we communicate and work as a business. Creativity and business go hand in hand and one should not compromise the other. By embracing new technology one can even be ahead of the big traditional corporations. When we dress someone like Selena Gomez or Rihanna it spreads globally across the Internet in a matter of hours or days and we have a huge instant demand.

What is your starting point each season for creating a new collection?
Every collection starts with a story and feeling that we manifest onto a mood board. The last collection was inspired by the medieval era – the image of the horse with its physical strength and detailed armory inspired me to create a collection contrasting the dark with the romantic and feminine. Driving the collection is the idea of the horse’s strength and power being transferred to and embodied by the woman wearing the creations. The collection explores the seductive heroines of the Middle Ages.

In-depth research is documented from museums, books and especially the Arms and Armour collection at the Wallace Collection in London. The intricate details of the embossed armour are transferred onto delicate French lace developed for the dresses. Fabric research with materials like Toscana shearling, exotic leather, zips and studs, complemented by silk and velvet brings the mood-board to life before the sketches are developed and the prototypes created. Prints are specially designed with the warhorses. Every collection is different and each season is a new story and new feelings.

What did you learn from your time at the house of McQueen?
McQueen was my first and most valuable experience in my career. He was the one designer I really admired when I was young and decided to become a fashion designer. He was a creative genius and I was very fortunate to be able to work alongside him. He thought me about the creative process and I admired how he put so much soul and personality into his creations. He was also a tailor, like myself, and it was truly inspiring to see him using his skills in such an original and dramatic way to convey his vision.

Are there any tips that you would tell a young designer just starting out, that were never told to you?
When you work as a fashion designer, it becomes your life, you live and breathe it – it is not a job, it’s something you dedicate yourself to. I created the brand on my own focusing very much on the creative side. Personally, I would recommend starting a label together with a partner. There is a lot more to it than just creating beautiful clothes, you are also building a company and you need a business plan and a strategy. I now work together with my life partner and it has given it even more meaning, pleasure and fulfillment – and also opened up many new doors.

Where in the world are your clothes available?
The clothes are available worldwide, and we are adding more stockists every season. We are also opening our online store very soon and have plans for opening our own flagship stores.

This season you collaborated with the Bloom Twins. What attracted you to them?
I like when there is more to the image than just beauty – like a collection, it needs a soul and a story. The Bloom Twins are not just models, but very talented young artists with their own special story and energy. They create their own music, both playing the instruments, singing and writing. Their music is very haunting, mysterious and pure – like the collection – they represent something dark and powerful yet fragile and beautiful. Check out their music.

by Nicola Kavanagh

Photo credits: Photography; Luis Monteiro, make up; Nat Van Zee, hair; Ben Gregory
All garments by Kristian Aadnevik 
Kristian is on facebook and twitter
Video credits:
Video one shoot credits:
Photography: Luis Monteiro
Post Production: Sebastian Psuja / Red Studios Chelsea

Video two Behind the scenes shoot credits:
Red Studios Chelsea

About The Author

Glass Magazine editor in chief

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