Interview Feature With Eleen Halvorsen
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Profile picture by Hassan Kinley Creative
Dark, ethereal, futuristic, grunge, minimalist are the five words fashion designer Eleen Halvorsen used to describe her self titled clothing line. With a conceptual approach to fashion design this Parson’s graduate celebrates her hometown Norway and the grunge mystic of New York in her pieces. The New York based label launched it’s capsule collection “Dancing Under the Black Moon” in May 2012 that showcased her love for leather, hand sewn yarn and seeking unconventional ways to experiment with her design process. With her new collection “BLK SHEEP WHT RAM” just unleashed onto the fashion world, Eleen spoke to us about being featured in Refinery 29 to a Norwegian girl finding her style drive in New York City.
All editorial image credits
Photographer: Shawn Reinoehl
Model: Charlotte Ley
Stylist: Ivanna Goldenberg
Tell us a little about yourself?
Eleen: Born and raised in Norway, in a town by the water which is surrounded by woods in all directions. I moved to New York three years ago to attend Parsons’ fashion design program. I interned at threeASFOUR, Vena Cava, and Swedish contemporary label ERRO. After graduation in May 2012 I started slowly developing my namesake brand, and launched my capsule collection “Dancing Under The Black Moon” earlier this spring. Now I have just released my second collection “BLK SHEEP WHT RAM”.
Eleen: It started as a love for dressing up, and I think, also standing out, or expressing myself in a specific way through clothes. I’ve always had a strong opinion of dress and always felt drawn to everything different or unexpected. As I got more and more into making clothes as a profession the love for dressing up became more of a secondary pleasure, I see clothes more as individual pieces of creation and I don’t really think too much about what I wear, rather how to create something unique, with the focus on the actual act of creation. I love being able to take a concept through all the steps from conception of an idea to the finished end piece – and then wear it!
Eleen: My design aesthetic is a good mix between Scandinavian minimalism and the dark New York grunge culture. I’m also very inspired by Japanese design techniques. I get drawn to everything new, unknown and odd; weird combinations of fabrics, interesting textures – Inspiration can come from anything – walking down the streets, new experiences, meeting new people etc.
What is a highlight in your fashion career so far?
Tell us about your latest collection what inspired you?
Eleen: The concept of BLK SHEEP WHT RAM evolved from a memory of getting dressed as a kid in the winter; I still remember the frustrating feeling when my leggings or layers of shirts twisted and twirled when trying to pull my pants and sweater over top. It felt so ill-fitting, like a misfit. The definition of the word misfit has two aspects: The first one, “Something of the wrong size or shape for its purpose”, is the base for the construction of the collection, like the circle sleeves and accordion shapes represented throughout the collection. The nature of the spiral creates a tension between the outer and inner circumference when trying to straighten them out, it looks like a misfit. The other definition of a misfit is more conceptual: “One who is unable to adjust to one’s environment or circumstances or is considered to be disturbingly different from others” – like a black sheep.
That’s where the name BLK SHEEP – WHT RAM comes into play, with the white ram as a contrast to the black sheep. The stronger, bigger white ram appears superior and stresses the awkwardness of the black sheep. This again inspired the black and white color scheme and the different textures of fabrics and their contrast, like the contrast of the ram’s soft fur and the hard sleek horns. In short, it is an all black and white minimal, yet grungy collection with a strong focus on shape and contrasting fabric textures.
Who do you see wearing BLK SHEEP – WHT RAM?
Eleen: Someone to wear my collection would be someone who is looking to stand out without being flashy, someone who dares to be that black sheep, and embrace it’s beautiful awkwardness. Someone with great appreciation for fabrics, texture and minimalistic, yet interesting construction.
What separates Eleen Halvorsen designs from everyone else?
Eleen: Designing is a very personal journey for me, and I think that also shows in my garments, each and every piece is created with the purpose of uniqueness. I’m always in a constant battle; a part of me wants to create a minimalistic clever design, and another part of me thrives for the challenge of creating intricate design, exploring new design techniques and searching for unexplored ways of creating a garment. I never really know where a project is going to take me before it’s finished and by embracing and taking advantage of all the challenges and mistakes that happens through the process of exploration you’re able to create something your mind was not able to imagine to start out with, and I believe that is what makes the garments truly unique.
What’s the futuristic vision for the label?
Eleen: Honestly I have no clue – and I love it! I live by the saying “anything is possible if you just believe in it strongly enough” – and put in a whole lot of work and devotion. It’s exciting to know that someone you might meet tomorrow could be the start of a future potential collaboration. I love the idea of cross-disciplinary collaborations – the more unexpected the better – it challenges your preconceived notions of the trade