Thriving outside of the lines, our cover artist, fashion designer Anne Sofie Madsen mixes the most unexpected elements and influences imaginable within and across each artistry in epic proportions to define a story in every look.
interview by ciara bird / illustrations by anne sofie madsen
You worked with two legendary British designers, John Galliano and Alexander McQueen, before you launched your own brand. How was your experience within each of the Houses, considering how powerful they were at the time in presenting truly innovative ideas and magnificent conceptual shows? I guess the two places were as different as night and day but for me an extraordinary thing they had in common was the art of storytelling. I also learned something very important about myself – the greatest motivation for me as a fashion designer was to have my own name on the neck label.
If your style was an object what would it be? A Malibu Beach Barbie that has been buried on the playground for a year and has been picked up by a stafford terrier.
Describe your vision in bringing together fashion and illustration. What inspires you to merge the two? What do you hope to accomplish? There’s something different and fascinating in clothing in relation to illustrations. You can build up your own stories and assemble a collection around them, but the clothes are going to leave that context. Perhaps in the hands of a stylist or in a store and later in real people’s lives. And the people create their own stories with the clothes. It makes fashion into an exciting media for me.
Do you do commissioned assignments as well? I really like to draw and I still work as an illustrator. I mainly do graphic novels and youth books and have had eight books published since 2010. I used to do fashion illustrations for different magazines, but at the moment I can’t find the time.
Tell us about your new collection. Inspiration for this collection comes from Jesper Just’s art film, Sirens of Chrome (2010). This collection depicts a female that is regenerating from human to half-monster and half-machine. She is a siren – a female monster and the outcome of a post-apocalyptic city where mechanics have begun to mend with the human. The accessories are hand crafted molded leather inspired by monster elements. Other techniques include fur being shaped by using hair remover and cut in graphic layers to make it look artificial yet animalistic. The materials in the collection are both hard and tough as metal and leather, yet smooth as fur and silk.
What’s your greatest challenge in creating a new collection? Many of our garments require a lot of hand sewing and drapery. We do half the collection as made-to-measure, which means we build it on the mannequin and sew by hand. Some pieces take two months to produce, while others only two days. When creating a collection, I think more about the expression with the shape, material, or color and not so much the garment as a whole.
Is there any tension between the idea and the execution? I always try to match my method with my inspiration. It is a challenging and exciting way to control the process. And at the same time it creates a meaningful link between the inspiration material and the final product.
Where is your collection available? Browns in London; Ssense in Canada; H. Lorenzo in Los Angeles; D-mop in Hong Kong; Alter in Shanghai; and B56 in CPH.
This interview was conducted summer 2013.