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Iso.Poetism finds calmness in the natural world

Based on his love for stones and pebbles, Tobias Birk Nielsen showed sportswear that combined urban edge with the gentleness of nature.
Based on his love for stones and pebbles, Tobias Birk Nielsen showed sportswear that combined urban edge with the gentleness of nature.

Iso.Poetism by Tobias Birk Nielsen, Thursday 2. February 2023 at 19.00

Tobias Birk Nielsen’s Iso.Poetism collections aren’t just ranges of clothes and accessories (or artefacts as he likes to call them) – they are multi-layered conceptual attempts to address emotional conditions such as joy, grief, and isolation through the medium of clothing. At the end of the day, the guy or girl buying one of his pieces in a store doesn’t really care about the whole backstory – they just want a great parka or pair of combat pants – but the considerable amount of work and thought put into every garment does manifest itself in clothes that are beautifully made and detailed. His international band of loyal fans would certainly agree. For his Autumn/Winter 2023 collection, called Copenhagen Obsidian Society, Nielsen drew on his love of pebbles and stones as inspiration, mulling on their ability to be both tactile expressions of the natural world but also – literally – touchstones that evoke memories and emotions. But if that throws out visions of crystal mystic revelations and Steve Nicks, worry not, Nielsen is far too much of a modernist to serve up even a hint of bohemia.

As always with Iso.Poetism, the show set is one part runway, one part art installation, and this time the models stalked around huge ‘boulders’ suspended from the ceiling by twine which created a strange state of tension as they seemed to defy gravity. By contrast, though, the collection itself was infused with a palpable sense of calm and serenity. Starting with all-black outfits, the clothes were cocooning and protective – jackets pulled over the head, balaclavas blocking out sound, flak jacket styles offering apparent safety. As the show progressed, the blackness faded away with the introduction of countless versions of soft patterns that captured different stone surfaces – striations of rock, marbling, tie-dye which evoked sandstone, even one remarkable look that seemed to be 3-D pebbles created by (we can only presume) quilting.

Appearing on everything from jackets and coats to pants and body-warmers, the effect of these natural surfaces was to soften the clean, sportswear silhouettes – indeed they worked particularly beautifully on knitted sweaters and scarves. Then, like pushing through the layers of earth, the colors became lighter, and pattern gave way to interlocking sections that looked like organic tracksuit panels. A section of black and white heralded a collab with classic sportswear brand Kappa – something bound to fly off the shelves with y2k loving millenials – but the clear winners were, as always, Iso.Poetism’s signature sportswear pieces that, much like the installation that surrounded them, balanced strict lines with a sense of ease and comfort.’’

See the entire collection here