BLK DNM's mastermind goes in conversation with the Swedish model, talking poetry and the imbued freedom of a leather jacket
Johan Lindeberg and Dorothea Barth Jorgensen recently worked together on a shoot for a capsule collection of luxury leather and furs for Lindeberg's BLK DNM label, a line comprised of eight special edition designs. Getting on famously, the designer and model, both hailing from Sweden, went in conversation for us, chatting inspiration and how they got to where they are today...
Dorothea Barth Jorgensen: Why, and how did you start BLK DNM?
Johan Lindeberg: At this stage of my life, I felt a need to express myself in a deeper way and to be more pure in my taste than ever. I went through a separation, which was really intense, emotionally. And I used the energy of that change to create a new project. I wanted to somehow create a vehicle where I could explore new areas of creativity. Something more personal than ever. I created the first pattern for BLK DNM, which was Jeans 8, in my apartment in June 2010. And I launched the brand in February 2011 with a film that was inspired by my break up.
Dorothea Barth Jorgensen: What kind of person would you like to wear your clothing?
Johan Lindeberg: My inspiration, for many years, has been a strong and independent woman. There is nothing more powerful or inspiring than a woman with natural confidence and who uses her strength. I see this sort of woman in denim, which I've always considered a symbol of freedom, in a leather jacket, in sharp tailoring. I like to design for these women who inspire me, women like yourself. And when it comes to men, I use myself as a reference. The men's collection is inspired by my own wardrobe, the things I like to wear, some of the things I've always worn.
Dorothea Barth Jorgensen: Tell me about how you got into photography…
Johan Lindeberg: I needed a more instant way of expressing myself. I'm not sure I can quite call myself a photographer, though. It's really a tool for me to understand more, about the clothes, but even more so about the woman. To go deeper. To connect with a woman. To study her character and try to portray her true strength and expression. I'm very interested in trying to understand more, to see how I can support someone to express their natural strength and to try and capture that truthfully. It's also really special to photograph a woman in clothes that I created.. To see it all come together through the lens. And the more I learn about the woman, the more inspired I become to create things that compliment and build on her strength. Things that support her expression of herself.
Dorothea Barth Jorgensen: What do you do to recharge and renew your energy when it's blocked or you don't feel inspired?
Johan Lindeberg: I've meditated for many years now, it helps me to lose intellectual control. To listen to my true intuition and feel what I really want. I also like to play music loudly and dance for myself. I do the same thing in my car. Just to open up and feel. And I spend a lot of time with my daughter Blue. She grounds me and makes me stay in the present. But really, I am grateful to say that for some reason, I feel the most inspired right now that I have in my whole life.
Johan Lindeberg: What has inspired you?
Dorothea Barth Jorgensen: My dad’s girlfriend was an artist. She lived in a studio full of plants and paintings. I went to her almost everyday after school to create, paint, water the plants, she taught me to 'see' and encouraged me to trust in my senses and nurture the artist within.
Johan Lindeberg: …How did you begin writing poetry?
Dorothea Barth Jorgensen: When I started modelling I became overwhelmed by all the new impressions, I felt divided between my inner emotions and the world around me... It [poetry] was a way to reconnect with myself, focus, reflect and put my experiences on paper to clarify, and to get to know myself and the subjects around me.
Johan Lindeberg: Has modelling changed you? What have you learned from it?
Dorothea Barth Jorgensen: Well, I was scouted at an H&M store in Stockholm. I did not plan to work as a model professionally, but I was ready to give it a chance. I was pretty shy when I started, but it soon came very naturally for me since I love acting. To model, you have to be able to express yourself and adapt to the clothing, the atmosphere, and the photographer. But you still have to be honest with who you are. It's about that balance, to give what the photographer wants out of you and still be yourself.
It was inspiring to work with you, because you capture what is beyond the surface. You want the truth, the real honest person within.
The modelling world is a completely different world, outside routines and norms. It's a place where anything is possible. You travel the world, meet fantastic people, most of them very talented and creative. The experience of living in NYC amongst all this creative energy has made a huge impact on my personal development.
Johan Lindeberg: What were you like as a child?
Dorothea Barth Jorgensen: As a child I was shy. I was the observer in the family, the eye far away from attention. I paid attention and from that I gained a lot of knowledge from others’ experiences. This may be why I love art, since I've been the viewer. When I grew older, I felt a need to express myself to be complete, in different media like photography, painting, writing and acting. It's all combined. Every art form brings out a new angle of life, and to understand one art form you have to understand the others.
When I was nine years old I went to the theatre for the first time. I felt empathy toward every single character on stage and I got lost in an imaginary world that was so present and direct that it made me forget about the real world. Also to share the moment with the other people in the audience, the feeling of belonging to something and knowing that they see what I see, And I did truly believe they experienced what I experienced...
Photography Johan Lindeberg