Having dressed the musician for her Fossora album artwork, the rising designer gives us the lowdown on designing for the Icelandic superstar
Nobody enjoyed lockdown as much as Björk enjoyed lockdown. “I hadn’t been that pumped since I was 16,” she told an Icelandic radio station last year. “Waking up every day in my bed, always so surprised, and grounded, and calm,” it was her idea of a good time. Though she has since been put back to work, the musician’s upcoming album travels back over those sensations, with Fossora – a made up word – being the sonic equivalent of digging one’s feet into the ground and sprouting roots. Compulsive, bass-heavy sounds, and pendulous hooks drag listeners into the earth’s crust as Björk returns from the lush cloudscapes of Utopia. “Seven billion of us did it together,” she explained on Instagram, “nesting in our homes quarantining.”
Björk has always relied on fashion to bring her interior world closer in line with reality, and this time around, it was the Paris-based designer Jisoo Baik who provided a vehicle for all those feelings. The album artwork for Fossora – shot by Vidar Logi – frames the musician in a superhero landing, her hair blown to dandelion proportions as a network of subterranean coral multiplies beneath her prehistoric platforms. The dress, which is more of a bodysuit, features wired arcs that swoop around the shoulders, draping fabric in dramatic folds from its brim. “Taken from my last collection, the design was inspired by ideas of safety and protection,” Baik says. “The dress has a very distinctive silhouette. You can clearly see that there is a woman within it, but her body is obscured because the design creates a protective barrier between her and the world. It’s about creating a safe space, made for a mysterious woman who is both strong and fragile, whose courage allows her to act adventurously even in the face of danger.”
Having recently graduated from Central Saint Martins, with a masters degree from the Institut Français de la Mode, this is Baik’s first major commission. “It was Björk’s stylist, Edda (Gudmundsdottir), who originally contacted me about collaborating. I was incredibly honoured. I’ve always taken inspiration from Björk’s imagination, creativity, and courage to experiment with music, so the fact that she chose my clothes meant so much to me.” Though the designer had never personally met the musician, she felt as though her own creative practice – which pushes the silhouette beyond its fleshy confines – chimed with Björk’s out of body approach. “I was invited to her orchestral concert at La Seine Musicale and I could feel her emotions in her voice, shifting from anger, to sadness, and joy, from a whisper to a growl. It was truly touching. Everything – from the instrumentals, outfits, stage, and audience – felt harmonised and interconnected, like I was jumping into a world that she had created.”
Though “the most memorable moment” was seeing the album cover for the first time, it was this experience that struck the deepest chord. “I realised just how fearless and experimental Börk actually is, which I think is the reason that she has chosen to wear my clothes. I, too, am constantly working on creating new, experimental designs and doing what I want to do without fear.” With Fossora not arriving until the end of the month, Baik connects her creation to “Undo” – a breathy wash of dreamlike vocals featuring on 2001’s Vespertine. “That song has always touched and comforted me, helping me to escape my own insecurities,” she says, drawing comparison to her own clothing, which aims to provide women with a similar sense of sanctuary. “It makes me feel safe through confronting difficult memories and experiences. Every time I listen to the song, I’m overcome with feelings of calm, comfort, and delight,” she concludes. “I would love for people to feel the same way when they see or wear my clothes.