Fashion's New Optimism: Damien Fredriksen Ravn

By A/W 2029, he hopes to have his own label established in London or Paris.

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Damien Fredriksen Ravn, 26, Norwegian, Womenswear

Where did you study and why did you decide to study there?
MA at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Belgium. I decided to go to Antwerp when I was doing my foundation in Denmark – rumours were it was amazing.. So I packed my bags and left.

Which city do work in and for what reason?
I work in Antwerp because I like it here, even though it’s very small. It’s cheap, close to everything and I like my job.

What films/books/tv-programs/moments and stories inspire your design now?
I just finished Orhan Pahmuk’s ‘My Name is Red’, but I read it mostly to disconnect. For work I’m very into Art Deco’s clean, structured ornamentation at the moment, so I’m reading a lot about that. Darren Aronofsky’s ‘The Fountain’, is not new and I know it by heart already, but it’s still stuck in my head and inspire me a lot.

In your own words describe your last collection.
My last collection was inspired by one of the strongest visual moments I’ve ever had, and it was on my mind the whole summer. It was about “things we’re not supposed to see” and that was initially about how far we’ve gone in society and whether or not the things we do are actually something we should do, and if it’s actually good for us or not. It’s about the 19th century’s dreams of progress and the lives we live today – and how this progress perhaps progressed too much and made us long for the past. I wanted to bring the turn of the last century to the turn of our century.

Describe the moment you realised you wanted to be a fashion designer?
When I was 10 and made a spring book in school about the return of pastel on the Parisian catwalk!

Who is your all time fashion idol?
Nicolas Ghesquiere!

In a sentence how would you describe your work/style?
My style is some sort of minimalistic maximalism – I do subtle shapes with accentuation on cuts and extensive patternworks.

From the recent S/S 09 shows, which shows were your favourite collections, and why?
I liked Givenchy, Jil Sander, Richard Nicoll and Christopher Kane for their modern, clear and interesting cuts and McQueen for the amazing prints.

Which new designers do you respect and why?
I love Riccardo Tisci – I love his way of thinking and what he managed to make of Givenchy! Other than that I like Proenza Schouler, Francisco Costa for Calvin Klein and Christopher Kane because they are very contemporary.

If you could go back in time and experience any fashion moment, what would it be?
The last last age of elegance - Belle Epoque! I would love to be tied up in a corset, wear mermaid dresses and live in an art nouveau townhouse in Paris.

If you could get any model/ anyone to wear your clothes, who would it be - who is your muse and why?
I don’t have a particular muse, but I like Chloe Sevigny, Lara Stone, Mary-Kate and Robyn.

If you were to shoot your campaign and you could get your dream team of photographer, stylist, and model and do anything you wanted, who and what would it be?
My dream team would be Solve Sundsbo, Carine Roitfeld, Pat McGrath and Lara Stone.
I recently saw a picture of this amazing place in Hong Kong, called the Savva – I would love to do the shoot there on the terrace amongst the skyscrapers at dawn. That group of people would be perfect to make things happen the way I would want it!

Where do you see yourself/your label for A/W 09?
At work I am currently designing men and womenswear collections for A/W 09, and I see myself continuing there when the shows start again.

Where do you see yourself/your label for A/W 29?
By 2029 I hope I have taken my work further and far enough to have my own label established in London or Paris. I want to continue doing what I love doing, and I want to be where I would want to be.
I want to be happy with what I do!

Tell us any anecdotes about the making of your last collection.
When I was going back home in June, I missed my plane (due to a hangover) so I had to wait for 8 hours in Brussels. Luckily while landing I had one of the most amazing sights I’ve ever had in my life. We were suddenly trapped in between two thick layers of clouds as far as the eye could see. Only a few rays of the red evening sun above hit the under-layer. It was so beautiful it almost made me a believer! Only a few minutes later it was all dark. This made me think I was not supposed to see what I just saw. If I weren’t on that plane, I wouldn’t have seen it. If we didn’t fly – no one would see those things. That made me think of the “things we’re not supposed to see”.
The sun above the clouds, the deep sea, outer space and so on…
My last collection ended up being very personal. I travelled to Vienna to develop the concept further, and for the first time I made slight references to the past, through Mucha, Klimt, Schiele’s body proportions and metal works from the same period.
It was the first time I worked with metal, which was challenging enough, but I made all the prototypes myself and then a very talented Belgian jewellery designer, Steven de Jaeger, made them in real for me. I always work with print, mostly by hand, but this time I wanted a more clean and crisp outcome, so I worked together with Greg Martin, an American illustrator, and used some of his amazing illustrations for my collection.
I also worked closely for months with an up-and-coming vocal/electronic artist in Antwerp, Matsu Chita, for the music of my show.

If you weren’t a fashion designer what would you be?
A DJ, I still want to be a DJ!
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