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Rolf Ekroth’s debut show In Copenhagen proved to be a vie en rose

Rolf Ekroth, Tuesday 8. August 2023 at 13.00, Copenhagen Skatepark

Rolf Ekroth’s path to his first show at Copenhagen Fashion Week has been a long and somewhat unusual one. Following short spells as a social worker and – randomly – an online poker player, he decided to retrain in fashion when in his early thirties, but the ensuing success of his eponymous brand has lead him to be showcased as part of this week’s NEWTALENT programme. Touchingly, Ekroth’s maturity does not seem to have made him cynical or jaded – rather his inspiration for his collection ‘Missing’ was centred around a rose-coloured sense of nostalgia and a deep love for his native Finland. Looking back to his teenage years in the 1990s and interleaving his own memories with those of his grandparents uncovered a rich vein of creativity that produced a collection that understands the importance of heritage but places it firmly in the present.

Showcasing such a nostalgically inclined collection in the uncompromisingly urban cityscape of a skatepark seemed at first counter-intuitive but Ekroth is at pains to stay within the utilitarian framework of his aesthetic and his pre-show notes pointed out that video games are as much part of his background as handicrafts. And it is the coming together of these jumbled memories that gives the collection its teeth.

Roses were there in bunches – from painterly prints of gardens and rosebuds to chunky knitted motifs on cardigans – but avoiding a saccharine sweetness when on cotton drill utility wear or in murky colours in flowing dresses.  For the most part, the long peasant style dresses were worn (convincingly) by guys in the show, evoking, for me at least, memories of the seminal Face magazine cover of Nirvana wearing floral frocks and boots. Further nods to grunge appeared in a section of plaid skirts worn with fake fur vests. Aprons bought into the old time workwear vibe – worn simply as a ‘skirt’ addition over shorts or more stylised as a quilted bib on the front of a sweatshirt. Ekroth also showed some very strong outerwear pieces: kagules giving a hint of rave, quilted shrugs in lemon yellow and a patchwork coat in technical fabric that totally modernised what grandma might have done. A standout too was an impeccably made leather coat in deep fir green.  Adding whimsical touches were charms made in collaboration with iconic Finnish jewellers Kalevala that hung from the front of parkas or jackets.  The same partnership led to a red-carpet ready chainmail dress with – of course – a rose motif centre front.  

The final outfit of fake roses on a trellis jacket maybe pushed the theme a little too literally but – and this is a true litmus test of a talented designer – if you take away the headscarfs and accessories  and separate out the pieces, the show was packed with desirable and sellable clothes.  After this excellent debut, Rolf Ekroth deserves the biggest bunch of flowers.

See a selection of the show look below and see the entire collection here