Global Young Designer Spotlight: Cecilie Bahnsen

Global Young Designer Spotlight: Cecilie Bahnsen

Cecilie Bahnsen’s eponymous founder and designer speaks with us about Denmark’s special affinity with Japan, her dreamy Sicilian sojourn and the importance of letting in a little darkness.

and delicate in the details, maybe, but make no mistake –
the Cecilie Bahnsen woman has edge. The young Danish designer has
long occupied a head-seat at the table of Copenhagen‘s
coolest it-girls, and in a time where femininity is ripe for the
reshaping, Cecilie’s malleable and customisable mould is one to
which women worldwide are drawn.

Launching her career at John Galliano, Cecilie’s rise
has been nothing short of astronomical and shows no signs of
tailing off. Like a stormy cloud – the shape of which resembles the
puffed sleeves and billowy skirt of her signature babydoll dress –
Cecilie’s aesthetic carries something wild rumbling beneath its
soft exterior. Designed for all and made for life, a Cecilie
Bahnsen piece is intended to share, to lend, to pass on.

Unabashed femininity is the sun of the Cecilie Bahnsen universe,
casting its many shapes and silhouettes through beams of yellow,
floral motifs and chunky dad-sandals marching down the runway.
Broody, unpredictable and subtle in its power, the Cecilie Bahnsen
brand is a teenage girl rendered in hand-embroidered quilted silk
and tulle. Brand: Cecilie Bahnsen

Designer: Cecilie Bahnsen

Origins: Denmark

Homebase: Copenhagen

Stockists: Dover Street Market, Selfridges, Net-a-Porter, Nordstrom, Matches Fashion and many more across the world.

You previously worked for Anja Vang Krag, Christian Dior, John
Galliano and Erdem; how has your experience has shaped you as a

I started out in London
and Paris
so the romance and detail of my designs are inspired by these two
cities, with Scandinavian minimalism. It needs to feel effortless.
All my collections focus on clothing made by hand. It’s important
for me to combine the intricate details of a couture house and my
Scandinavian heritage of inherent beauty with openness, simplicity
and pragmatism.

A word that always comes up when others describe your aesthetic
is “feminine” or “girlish”. What does femininity mean to you?

There is power and strength in romance and femininity. I make
clothes for women to feel comfortable, strong and independent.

Who is the Cecilie Bahnsen woman?

Each Cecilie Bahnsen woman has her own uniqueness, her posture,
her stance, her feelings and her interpretation of how to wear the
clothing. It means a lot to me to see how a woman wears the label
according to her own style, how she puts together the pieces in
unexpected ways. I get as much out of seeing the clothes in
everyday life as I do in a show.

The silhouettes of your pieces have become especially
recognisable (the full skirts and sculptural dresses), where do you
find inspiration?

Each season we curate the universe of the brand, building on
signatures, sculptural dresses, architectural silhouettes, puffed
sleeves and bow details. We build on this with each collection to
ensure the brand grows by feeling and instinct, with meaning and

What was the inspiration behind your most recent AW19

Fall/Winter 2019 is about me letting a little darkness in. I was
thinking a lot about [American photographer] William Eggleston and
that sense of something bubbling beneath the surface. The
collection is mostly black and white, but I wanted some Eggleston
colour, so we used yellow in the tulle dresses embroidered with
flowers. They are my homage to his photo of his wife Rosa asleep on
a flowery yellow bedspread. He never gives his pictures a title or
an explanation; it’s up to the viewer to decide what they think.
That’s how I’d like my collections to be thought of – the dresses
give every woman that wears them a different experience.

The look this season is less clean and controlled than I’ve done
before. It’s the feeling of unravelling or coming unstitched. I had
an image in my mind of a girl who’s experimenting with putting
together an identity, finding her adult self. So there’s a lot of
patchworking, mixing together craft techniques, textures and

Tell us about your earliest fashion memory.

Embroidering and knitting with my grandmother in our summer
house – she inspired me to work with my hands, and created the most
beautiful embroideries of her flowers in the garden.

Your look is closely linked to a Scandi minimalism; do you ever
see yourself taking the label out of Denmark?

I think my base and studio will always be in Copenhagen but
maybe in the future we might look to show the collection in other

Your choice in fabrics and how you manipulate them is something
that makes you stand out. Where do you source such interesting

Merging tradition with innovation, we work with manufacturers in
Como, Italy, to design new textiles for each collection that offer
a unique combination of style, sustainability and quality. Quilt
reimagining, one of the oldest couture techniques, is a constant
inspiration to me. Our double-faced embroidered quilted silk is
created by hand for each garment; we stitch beautiful floral
motives into the garments following our hand drawn design.

Are there any particular references that have shaped you?

I have always been drawn to femininity and a romantic way of
dressing. I think this may have been inspired by my love of Sofia
Coppola movies, especially Virgin Suicides and Lost in

How does a Cecilie Bahnsen creation translate from idea to

The collections are always a study of fabric, texture, line and
volume. We refine and evolve the silhouettes, details and fabric to
fit with the mood of the season. Often you can’t see the
progression when you are in the middle of the design process, but
when everything falls into place you get this overwhelming feeling
of how beautiful it all has become.

Other than Denmark, to which country is the Cecilie Bahnsen
aesthetic tied?

Perhaps Japan; it has always been such a big inspiration – it
has the same tradition of craftsmanship you see in Danish design: a
focus on simplicity, functionalism and details. Growing up I
watched [Yasujirō] Ozu and [Kenji] Mizoguchi movies, and lately
Osamu Yokonami’s photography has been a real influence. I love
Tokyo; I can wander the backstreets for hours, revelling in the
sense of everything being so hectic yet so calm.

How did your time studying in London impact who you are as a

I loved living in
and sometimes miss the energy and inspiration this part
of the city gave to me. Studying at the Royal College of Art was
some of the very best years; the people and the creativity were
fantastic and so inspiring.

If you could be anywhere in the world right now where would it

Right now, I am so excited to be in my studio working on the new
collection. After the show in August, I’d love to take a holiday in
Sicily, driving along the coast, listening to music and enjoying
the beautiful beaches and food.

Your go-to places in Copenhagen for inspiration is…

The Library in the Design Museum Denmark,
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Galleri
Wallner and Décor for vintage shopping.