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 Magasin du Nord Fashion Prize reveals this years finalists 

Freya Dalsjö

Educated in Antwerp, Freya Dalsjø returned to Copenhagen in 2011 to launch her eponymous womenswear line shaped by a strong fascination of women, physical constraints, and social constructs. Together with a small team of tailors, she drapes and samples her biannual collections in her atelier, allowing for studied and conceptual collections.

What convinced you to start your own brand? 

When I started putting work out, I had no label in mind. As I didn’t complete my fashion studies, I was eager to find another way to learn the various crafts of garment making, the possibilities and restrictions of materials, learn how to sew and make patterns. It is and has been a great frame for practicing. It drove me to conceptualise new ideas and shapes in my studio, presenting new pieces every season since starting out.

Carcel

The Carcel look is clean, irreverent, and top shelf in materials and wearability – with stylistic cues derived from anything from goth to pop. Run by Veronica D’Souza, Louise van Hauen, and Stinne Wilhelmsen, Carcel is based on a rare fashion business model: employ incarcerated women in Peru and Thailand to give them fair wages and important job skills. 

What is the most important knowledge you have gained so far?

Things take time. If you want to make something of high quality, it takes patience in both development and production. Then it takes time to cultivate an audience to appreciate the quality you have created. It's a long process, and we're just getting there.

Astrid Andersen

Loved by entertainers and club crowds with flashy tastes, Astrid Andersen's luxurious take on streetwear is as versatile as it is refreshing, with clear references to the world of sports. Her seemingly boundless creativity also churns out daring hip hop-esque fur creations, wild patterns, and silhouettes from far-away continents.

Nikole Liv Andersen

Equal parts art and fashion, the works of Nikoline Liv Andersen are in a class of their own. Wild silhouettes and loud materials as seen on Björk's outstanding world tour fur dress caught the eye of Fendi and resulted in a five-year stint designing for the Italian fahsion house under the tutelage of Karl Lagerfeld.

What characterises your designs and products?

I make one of a kind couture. All my textiles are experimental and executed by hand. My design is expressive and sculptural with fine details outside and in. To me it is not only important to be expressive, the tailoring also needs to be perfect.

Maja Brix

Educated at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in Fashion womenswear, Maja Brix spent eight years as head designer for Henrik Vibskov Femme, before launching her own label in 2016. With pieces ranging from dresses and scarves to a unisex suit with the mandatory white shirt, this is a fresh take on Scandinavian style with an international outlook.

Sur Le Chemin

Designed by Kjetil Aas, sur le chemin is the second shot at independence by the former Norse Projects head of design. Since participating in Magasin du Nord Fashion Prize he has gained some important experience in running a fashion label.

Tell us about your design philosophy.

We consider all aspects of the garment – including aesthetics, comfort, and wearability. It is my vision to create long-lasting wardrobe favourites based on modernity, functionality, and simplicity.

Maikel Tawadros

Widely acclaimed for his precise cuts and dark fashion universe, designer Maikel Tawadros' arv label is known for a style that is avant-garde and minimalist, with plenty of creative courage displayed in a contrasting blend of fine fabrics, fur, and fantasy film-grade leather accoutrements.

How do you stand out from the crowd in 2020?

By creating small-scale, sustainable, and socially responsible clothes wherein 90% of what we produce is made within the EU or closer to home. At arv, we produce small quantities – when a style is sold out, it’s gone forever. My philosophy is to make people consider how they consume; we don’t need to buy a new jacket, bag, and knit every season. It’s an outdated way of thinking. Instead, I hold to the maxim quality over quantity.

Cecilie Bahnsen

A master at sculpting and draping delicate fabrics, Cecilie Bahnsen is on many women's wish list for their next ultra feminine dress. Since launching independently in 2015, she has ventured far off the path of archetypal Scandinavian minimalism, bringing some much-needed volume and colour to the womenswear game.

Talk about the production qualities in your designs and what characterises your products.

I love the emotional appeal of traditional techniques like embroidery and quilting that have been passed down for centuries and I am very inspired by how you can apply the handmade touch and couture techniques to modern ready to wear. To contrast the historical inspiration and the feminine touch that you see in the collections fabrics and embroideries, I always draw on the minimalistic and functionalistic Scandinavian aesthetic I grew up with.

Brøgger

After graduating KADK Schools of Design, Julie Kirstine Brøgger worked in London for JW Anderson, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, and Erdem. Her designs move on the fault lines between feminine and masculine and day / formal wear, reflected in the choice of materials, treatment, and cutting. She continues to live in London, where her Brøgger label is based.

What is the most important knowledge you have gained in 2020?

There are some things in fashion and in business you just can’t prepare for, but opportunities exist in all changes.

MFPEN

The mfpen brand journey began with Sigurd Bank's search for a silhouette he didn't see anywhere in contemporary Danish menswear. Educated in fashion with expertise in sourcing and production, he created his own; initially just a few items – a pair of trousers and a coat. Now, he has a full collection with a solid brand identity.

How do you stand out from the crowd in 2020?
I purposely have set up my business in a way where we are less reliable on growth for survival. This means that I have more freedom to change and explore new approaches, like the turnaround decision to solely use deadstock. The mfpen aesthetic is classic yet contemporary, and together with the subtle styling this makes the brand stand out in a profound and sophisticated manner.

Nina Nørgaard

 “We hope that the scholarships, the network, and the mentoring scheme will help the finalists in the midst of a difficult situation. This is a time when it is important to be able to adapt and pivot quickly and where design, sustainability, and a good business plan are essential. Over the years, the relationship between the participants and the jury members have developed into a strong, almost familiar, network. We support each other.” 

 “This time we deviate from the tradition and do not focus on a single collection created for the purpose. Instead, we take an overall look at the designers’ existing practices and how they will tackle the challenges they face. This year, the finalists are assessed on sustainability more than anything else – there simply is no getting around it in 2020; we will also check whether their business plans are sustainable, so they can succeed in the market; and as always we expect the designers to unfold their creativity in the presentations.”