THE INTERVIEW: GANNI

 
 
 
Who says that Scandi style has to be neutral and understated? Not Ditte Reffstrup. We talk to the creative director behind the crazy, sexy, cool Copenhagen brand Ganni about Britpop, Queen Elizabeth and clubbing…
On how it how it all began...

When I was younger, I actually wanted to be a professional football player! But I quickly caught interest in the world of fashion. Even as a child, I was very much aware of how I dressed. Despite growing up in a gloomy fishing industry town, I looked pretty flamboyant in the pre-school schoolyard. When others wore pretty pink dresses I looked like [a member of] Bananarama and felt great about it. Clothes and fashion has always been a big part of my identity. The right outfit can liberate you, strengthen your confidence, or even create a new context.
On design...

I haven’t had any formal training in design… I truly believe that the design process is first and foremost about distinctive feelings and about trusting them. I’ve somehow always been able to do that. I’d say it’s 80% in my genes, and the remaining 20% comes from experience.

To me design isn’t an intellectual exercise, it’s a gut feeling. If my heart is not in it, it doesn’t happen. As such I want fashion to be fun! We always add some unexpected element into the equation to mix things up. I believe you can wear your favourite vintage tee with an elegant slip dress, or a pair of cool sneakers with a feminine silk skirt. It’s all about gut feeling and strong personality to me.
On Ganni’s Danish roots…

Copenhagen is our home, and where our heart is. Our Danish roots are essential both in terms of our designs, and how we run our company in general. Scandinavians have managed to democratize design without compromising quality or aesthetics by effortlessly combining looks with ability. That design heritage is a premise we work with very seriously. However, we are an advanced contemporary brand with design that marks an exit from – or a reinterpretation of – the typical Scandinavian look. We love working with contrasts and have a playful approach to fashion. We do not do the clean Scandi look.

On Danish style…

In the streets of Copenhagen you see a few different looks, but generally there is a laidback attitude and a quite practical approach to fashion. People seem to focus less on being “seen” and more about feeling comfortable. However people have this cool effortlessness about them, which I haven’t seen in any other city. I guess it’s in their genes.
On travelling and inspiration...

I went to university in America for environmental science and sustainable development but travelling was my real education; where I could actually be immersed in different cultures, be with the people and sort of get that other-worldly perspective on what life is. And that is a huge part of the brand and the work that goes into it. I’m really influenced by my travels.

I had a rather transient upbringing; I was born in New York, grew up in the southwest of France, moved to Florida, went to school in New England… I’ve lived in Colorado, I’ve worked in Australia, Morocco and Nepal and I have lived quite a nomadic lifestyle. I actually ended up being in California by accident. I came here and I was only supposed to stay a couple of weeks. I went surfing and blew out one of my knees and had to take rehabilitation for a couple of months and then I didn’t leave. So that’s how I ended up here and that’s where I found my mentor who I worked under for a couple of years.
On what she loves about Copenhagen…

Copenhagen to me is a sense of excitement, yet hominess, the thrill of city life with all its perks such as cultural events, restaurants, and shopping, yet still small enough to reach everything by bike. The perfect combination if you ask me. Copenhagen is laidback, easy-going, and a quite practical city. People are very down-to-earth and seem to focus more on comfort than glamour.

On where she hangs out…


In terms of favourite hangouts, I’m very into the restaurant Spaghetteria at Vesterbro at the moment; a laidback Italian trattoria with fresh dishes of the day. I love the atmosphere there, both on chill weekdays and more festive Friday nights. Atelier September in Gothersgade is super hip right now, but also aesthetically pleasing, which leverages the overall experience. Plus it’s simply great, healthy food. The South American restaurant Llama is a great place to go out for dinner, drinks and dancing. They won’t play progressive music and you won’t impress anyone from your art club, but it’s super danceable, which I cherish big time.
On her average day…

I wake up and have breakfast with my kids and husband. Then I ride the kids to school on our bike before heading to the office. The first thing I do when arriving is making my early morning cortado with the creative team while gathering my thoughts and having that bubbly feeling when thinking about what to accomplish during the day. I’m in and out of meetings, and no two days are the same, but I always try to end the day by having dinner with my family.

On inspiration…

I don’t have one specific muse. I can literally find inspiration everywhere, on my bike ride to work, from people I see on the street, or a song I hear on the radio. It isn’t something I can plan or force, but travelling usually gets my mind going.

Our Fall/Winter 2016 collection is a tribute to Blur and Britain, two of my big loves! I have always been fascinated by London and the intoxicating energy and diversity of the city. In the ‘90s my sister lived in London, and I loved visiting her to experience how innovative and brave people were in terms of fashion – so completely different than the small town in Jutland I was living in at that point. So we picked Damon Albarn and Queen Elisabeth to provide the framework for the design process of collection. The inner workings of that hypothetical superduo provided a fun dynamic that carried us through an intense creative process with a musical backdrop of 90ies hits. I loved it!
On being a Ganni girl…

I guess just by being true to who you are, and by not taking fashion and style too seriously. Just have fun with it.

We do not work with a specific woman in terms of age, occupation, or origin. We design for all kinds of women. The typical Ganni girl feels comfortable in her own skin. Meaning that appearance starts with personality and attitude, not clothes per se. A Ganni girl wears anything from a cool leather jacket to a beautiful lace dress or soft cashmere knit. What makes her interesting and incredibly sexy is what she adds to the mix. 10-year old sneakers, a vintage headband, funky jewellery, a fashion forward handbag or whatever makes her smile when she looks in the mirror.
On her personal style…

I would say my style is relaxed, intuitive and distinct. My only rule is going with my gut feeling. My everyday look is constantly changing, however I generally love comfortable easy-to-wear pieces that work in all aspects of my day. I usually just throw something on and mix it up with some gold jewellery, a vintage handbag or my old Nike air sneakers.

On the best advice she’s ever been given…

There are many, but when Bjørn Bruun, founder of Bruuns Bazaar and my first “fashion boss”, told me while I was in my early 20es, that I could never be friends with everybody, I truly took that to heart. I kind of moderated it to “don’t try to please everybody” and that later became “trust your instinct”, which has stayed with me ever since.
 
 
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