get to know: ann-sofie back

 

According to designer Ann-Sofie Back, her middle class upbringing in “boring” Sweden is responsible for her initial attraction to fashion…as escape. Her Swedish roots can’t be wholly discounted though, as they seemingly have a hand in her signature clean, laser-sharp design ethos.  Her vision — unwavering since her label’s 1998 debut following her graduation from Central Saint Martin’s MA program — is centered on a simplistic, Nordic-informed interpretation of the avant-garde, making cerebral fashion something that even relatively tame dressers can get behind.  With a lot of designers content making ambiguous statements instead of strong, definitive ones, Ann-Sofie Back’s confidence in what she does rubs off; making an Ann-Sofie Back piece, even with all its fabric, a smartly sexy statement. OAKAZINE spoke with Back — who, apart from helming Ann-Sofie Back Atelje and the more casual, but equally inventive sister label Back by Ann-Sofie Back, also serves as creative director of Cheap Monday —  about  moving back to Sweden, shitty airport books, and the importance of surrounding oneself with annoying people.

Could you please describe your label’s style using some keywords?
Ann-Sofie Back Atelje, is an exclusive, concentrated eveningwear collection for the thinking woman. BACK, the diffusion line, is based on successful ideas from the main line, reworked and updated with a more casual feel.

What kind of woman do you imagine wearing your clothes and where?
I design clothes for women that really dress for themselves, independent with a sense of humour.

How many people are working on your label right now?
Not counting in various freelancers for patterns, jewellery, bags, shoes and sunglasses etc…We are five.

Do you wear the clothes you make and do you have an opinion on designers doing that?
In the past I didn’t — it felt almost like incest to me. I think I am more removed from the process now, and try to look at what I do from other peoples’ points of view. That has weirdly made me wear my own designs more.
I see that your clothes have a cleanliness of intention through both the tailoring and design. It seems like there is a very refined vision and confident designer behind them. How do you think this affects the wearer of your clothes?
I think my designs attract this type of person as well and my designs mirror this person’s personality.

What do you choose to stimulate yourself with when you’re not working?
I’m very strict with not stimulating myself when I don’t work — I never see any interesting films or go to exhibitions. I walk my dog, drink wine in the sunshine, read shitty airport books, and watch TV series.

Please describe the art vs. commercial line that I imagine you must walk.
It has never been painful — I have always done what I wanted to. Now I want to be more clever with how I use my ideas — make my designs more attractive to a wider audience while still retaining strong ideas. This is a joy though, I love it!

How much do you pay attention to trends and how much do they influence your work?
What I have experienced is that my designs are timeless; people wear the garments over and over. What I do stands a bit on the side. This has not been a conscious choice on my part. Involuntarily I shy away from the obvious trends because I know I’ll bore of them quickly because of the overexposure.

What are some of the major aspects that interest you about fashion?
Your work is never done, it changes all the time. Just when you think you understand it, it moves away.
What attracted you to the world of fashion, initially?
I had a very middle class upbringing, and it was a way of fleeing the boredom and commonness.

What do you still retain from your earliest interests, today?
Since I have moved back to Sweden (after 12 years in London) I think the reasons for my initial interest in fashion have made themselves heard again.

If you could change any big part of the fashion industry, what would it be?
I’m not sure I would.

What kind of people do you surround yourself with in order to continue pursuing your dreams?
Mostly really annoying ones.

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get to know: tiffany tuttle of ld tuttle