Henrik Vibskov’s Place in Danish Fashion is now undisputed. Arguments could be made that there are bigger brands in the industry who are selling more, but there can be no argument when it comes to the authenticity and impact of Vibskov’s work. Seeing Vibskov (the designer) in person is always a curious thing as he exhibits a sense of lanky intolerance for gravity as a lot of really tall people do and fittingly enough his work stands similarly overlooking danish fashion of the last decade while remaining intolerant toward outright commercialization. That is a fine line to grace but Henrik seems to do it gracefully.
His SS20 collection is filled with prints and whimsy. "Stuck under the surface" may be the theme of the whole collection but it will be moving pretty fast off the rack as it bores all the trademark elixir of Henrik’s excellence. The material Henrik uses hasn’t changed drastically, the aesthetic remains consistent with his previous work and above all the tongue-in-cheek absurdity of living is firmly grasped through the nodes of colorful quirks. One look at this and you would be able to tell who the designer is. So if it is the consistency you are looking for you should not go any further.
But with consistency comes a sense of static…or maybe being stuck. Is Henrik Vibskov stuck in his excellence? Is that a bad thing? The Fox News-TMZ answer would be yes, and he is short on ideas. But as we know that is a false narrative to shore up shock and awe but never substance. In all practicality, Henrik’s work has reached a plateau that is rarely traveled by most designers. Without psychoanalyzing Henrik’s work, the sheer nuts and bolt answer is that Henrik Vibskov may have outgrown the Danish industry. And almost out of habit Copenhagen has become sort of his “safety-school” runway show. It is not uncommon to find Henrik Vibskov at a karaoke bar in Tokyo, at a coffee shop in Williamsburg, at a woman’s march in DC or a grocery store in Dhaka. For a relatively small brand from a small country, Vibskov’s reach among the ‘in-crowd’ is rather astounding. But instead of resting on his laurels Henrik has been deconstructing the foundational knowledge of your everyday lives with a sense of confident smirk while being kind to the absurdity that prevails. Whether or not that is a conscious decision or borne out of artistic impulses we don’t know, but it is wonderfully amusing to entertain the fact that the Absurdist movement came out on the back of another Danish maestro, Søren Kierkegaard who got stuck and as a reaction European existentialism was born. So maybe being stuck is not a byproduct of running out of ideas but a quiet sense of contemplation through the mechanism of aesthetics. That is something only Henrik can answer but as an observer of his work for the last decade or so it is safe to say, Henrik remains as relevant, as consistent and as tall as ever. And being stuck under the surface may just give Henrik time to deconstruct his universe and come out unstuck.
Originally Published in Deux Paris.