LÆS DEN DANSKE UDGAVE HER
Helmstedt, Thursday 10. August 2023 at 16.00 at The Plant CPH
I’ve always had a soft spot for Emilie Helmstedt: her fairytale universes and her papier-mâché figures. When she reads a self-written text about the collection out loud at the start of each show with a trembling voice. The hand-painted prints with everything from strawberries, fish, conch shells and mushrooms to clouds, butterflies and sunflowers. It’s all very fine and sweet and adorable. Like herself.
But today was different. When today’s show was about to start, there was no Helmstedt to read. Instead, we heard a more confident and powerful Helmstedt over the speakers. The words “You are my world, Blue,” came first, and talk of strawberries and the sky followed, which was still sweet and a clear dedication to her daughter, Blå. But then the speech became more ominous with “Fantasy is a gift. Creativity is a curse.” The lights dimmed and the music grew more sombre, almost like a warning. For her daughter? Or to other young creatives who hope to make it in this industry?
But in came Nina Marker with the first look – white lamb clouds on sky blue silk trousers with two white pearl clouds with blue pearl rain fringes as a bra. Not exactly ominous, but more mature and sexier than we are used to from Helmstedt. It’s nothing new that we see clouds in multiple shades, but with the dedication to the daughter, it seemed appropriate to go to the archives and start the show with several sky-blue entries. The clouds were updated and smaller than when we last saw them, and then they also came in a new, slightly pixelated, knitted variant with light blue cumulus on a medium blue background.
And the clouds were not the only thing that Helmstedt had found from the cache. Here there were several varieties of strawberries both as prints and as embroidery, and the extraterrestrial theme from last season was repeated in embroidery with small UFOs over a desert landscape, which again came with a touch of the ominous in the form of “Danger” signs here and there. Also, the brown-orange-blue-beige-green print with large brush strokes was similar to something we have seen before from Helmstedt’s hand, but again in an updated version, with slightly larger strokes and slightly different colours.
On the other hand, we saw more tight silhouettes and, combined with both the pearl bras and bandeau tops, there was more skin and body which was welcome and gives Helmstedt a little less cuteness and a little more flirtatiousness and delicacy. It happened again in the make-up, where lip gloss shone from kissable lips and small pearls and the like glittered from the eyes and, in some cases, all over the face. Very Euphoria and very cool.
Last season, Helmstedt introduced a little bit of denim, and it was amped up for this season. But she makes the material her own and dyes it in sorbet colours, where pink, coral, and orange melt in and out of each other. It works well for close-fitting silhouettes such as in a short, tight dress with large, ruffled sleeves, but also on an anorak and capri pants it becomes cool and more sporty.
And there is no Helmstedt without a quilt. She excels in the loose, convoluted patterns that create shape for the print on the silk and provide soft, warm layers that are necessary in the Scandinavian summers. On the cloud print with the sewn-on pearl raindrops, it becomes exclusive and sumptuous – especially in the last look of the show with the long coat with a large skirt and an even larger train. The quilt also works particularly well when the skirts need to be puffed up, both in the cloud dress with spaghetti straps and the strapless top, cut below the bust in the brown-blue-orange pattern.
And then there is the other type of quilt, where cotton is completely covered with small, embroidered crosses, which forms intricate patterns and expanses in different colours. It works really well on tops and skirts and looks expensive and luxurious in that bohemian way.
How literally the ominous intro is to be taken is not known. If you look at the conditions of the fashion industry and the state of the environment, I can understand that Emilie Helmstedt feels that she must issue a warning to both her child and other creatives. Whether the more obscure mood is more a sign that Helmstedt is changing and maturing can also be true. Perhaps it is all present side by side. In any case, the show provoked thought for me and that can never be wasted.
See a selection of the show looks below and see the entire collection here.
This show review is translated from Danish to English by Graham Addinal.