One of the upsides of working (often doggedly) as a fashion designer, or in any creative pursuit for that matter, is the blurring of lines. A friendship, or even simply admiration for a peer, is license to collaborate. Such was the case recently with womenswear designer and New York-native Tess Giberson and musician Amalie Bruun.
Giberson’s aesthetic is a bit rock ‘n’ roll but with a cool air of Scandinavian understatement. So it’s no wonder it drew the attention of Copenhagen-born Bruun. As one half the band Ex Cops—Brian Harding completes the equation—Bruun is a talented vocalist and songwriter. (“James” from their recent album True Hallucinations is on repeat here.)
For Giberson, collaboration is second nature. During February’s runway show, the designer chose to forgo models, instead using artists and musicians to showcase her fall collection. So we’ve decided to bring that same vibe to The Window today. Amalie so graciously agreed to model Tess’s A/W ’13 collection just for you, loyal readers. Below, you’ll find photographs from our shoot at Juliette in Williamsburg as well as an interview between the two artists.
Tess Giberson: How long have you and Brian been working on your upcoming album for the Ex Cops?
Amalie Bruun: I am still writing songs and recoding demos. We’re almost there. Brian and I have been living upstate for the last few months. We’re really in the creative state right now.
TG: At that stage in developing an album, do you kind of lock yourself in?
AB: I guess so. I’ve never worked this way but I feel like it was time for me to take away all the distraction. It’s just the two of us and we just have an amp, a couple guitars and we just record.
TG: That’s something I would love to try—I feel like it would really push you.
AB: It’s really nice sometimes to be totally unaffected. Have you ever designed a collection that way?
TG: Never. I think when I had my original collection I used to be able to sit. I didn’t have kids. But now I can’t do it. I have no idea how it gets done but somehow it always does.
AB: Maybe that works for you. Maybe you need that pressure and chaos. I grew up in a forested area of Denmark so it was just my mom’s house and a grand piano. That’s how I started writing songs so I think that’s my safe space, creatively. I loved when I moved to New York that people were screaming in your face and it was so crazy. It was so overwhelming and I think it created an interesting mix for me that showed in my songs. Lately I feel like I’ve been here for a few years and I need to go back to my roots.
TG: I grew up in rural New Hampshire. I think it gave me the center that I carry with me but I need the angst of the city to keep myself sharp and focused.
AB: What I’ve seen of your designs is that they have that strong, sleek New York vibe mixed with elements like knitwear that are almost Nordic. I like the mixture of different techniques and fabrics. It’s kind of the mix I feel about where my life is now.
TG: I would love to make installations one day. That’s what I fantasize about and would do if I wasn’t in fashion. For the show this September, I was really challenged about the set. Finally I decided to do a large-scale hanging that I knit and crocheted to help get that desire out.
AB: That’s really strange that you say that. This is a new thing for me but for this band, the ExCops it’s become such a visual thing—I can actually see our music. In July, we performed at MoMA and for the first time experimented with the actual performance—set design and dancers. It feels so awesome. Like you as bandmembers can create a full experience that you can almost remove yourself from. Less focus on you as a performer and more on the experience.
TG: That’s what I try to do at my shows—create the moment, and then watch other people experience it. And then you think about the next ideas and hope they get bigger and bigger.