At Svaneholm Castle in south of Sweden you will now be able to enjoy beautiful designs a la Downton Abbey. The cloths were owned by Swedish ladies that have lived at the castle between 1860 to 1947. The cloths were bought in Copenhagen and Stockholm, for example the M. Bendix. The castle and its surroundings are beautiful and the exhibition nice. Don’t miss out if you have the opportunity.
Valerie Steele is my fashion Icon. Not because she is the most beautiful and well dressed. I hardly know how she looks like. No, she is an fashion historian and Director for the Museum of FIT in New York. Read her books and you’ll see.
One of the first one I read was the one above. Women designers are highlighted in this book as fashion history is mostly dominated by male designers. The book not only mention Chanel and Vivianne Westwood, we all know about those. No it is about others like Schiaparelli, Vionnet, Alix, Lanvin, Delaunay, Nina Ricci and Claire McCardell. (She misses out Katja of Sweden (!) but I guess she was not famous enough and therefore not part of the world fashion history! McCardell was the pioneer of ready-to-wear and mass production and also Katja of Sweden’s Teacher so I guess that will do.)
Women dominated Paris fashion history in the 1920s and 1930s, according to Mrs Steele. The World War II meant a weakness of the Parisian couturiere and the success of the American ready-to-wear, which became a significant trend in the postwar period. Redy-to-wear meant more practicle and comfortable rather than sexual and restricted cloths. This started to be an important trend anyway, which was practiced by both male and female designers as you can not tell the gender of the designer by simply look at the design.
Sewing has been part of womens work throughout history but it was when the production of cloths moved from home industry to business the profession was taken over by men. In the medieval Europe a tailor could only be a man.
Well it is time to re-write history and Valerie Steele’s book is one important step to do so. There is time to highlight important female designers throughout history that has not been much in spotlight or quickly disappeared from it.
In January the 12th 2017 the successful Swedish designer Katja Geiger became 97 years old. Today on the 25th of January she sadly passed away. Educated at the Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm and Parson’s School of Design in New York she became a productive designer with her own brand Katja of Sweden. Her first collection was launched in 1949 and was a success from start.
As a young woman Katja Geiger was a brave and sometimes controversial girl. She met her second husband in New York, the film director Rod Geiger, who worked together with Ingrid Bergman’s husband Roberto Rossellini. Rod Geiger became very much involved with the Katja of Sweden business.
Katja Geiger’s vision was inspired by Bruno Mathsson. After the Second World War the European fashion was still strict and not comfortable enough for the new stylish chairs by Bruno Mathsson that started to become fashionable. Katja Geiger’s vision was to design for the modern and active woman in need for fashionable cloths for home, work and leisure. Colourful design with lot of prints with variable sets of dresses, jackets, shoes, skirts and shirts were produced for different preferred combinations. This was new. The cloths were comfortable and useful for hectic women on the run, as well as relaxing at home with modern furniture.
The couple moved to Sweden in 1953 and continued with the brand Katja of Sweden, now in co-operation with the Malmo Factory, MMT. Katja Geiger’s most successful event was in Paris in 1966 which resulted in lot of articles by international press. Sweden, Denmark and especially America were important markets as well as Europe.
Katja Geiger was been a productive artist and designer. She has been an inspiration for many of the modern Swedish designers of today and important part of the Swedish fashion history.
It’s autumn. Boat owners are preparing for the winter. The Scandinavian nostalgic mood is coming over me. It gets darker and it is allowed to get cosy with candles and a book. I read Katja of Sweden’s biography trying to understand why her brand only exist as a popular vintage brand nowadays. Katja Geiger had a strong vision of what to achieve and she was a hard working creative artist with a successful international design.
However, hard work and creative design may not always work for long term without business skills. The fashion industry is sensitive to business cycles and consumers’ interest. Was it a lack of business skills that finally ended the successful design story?
Katja of Sweden was one of the strongest design brand Sweden had in the 60-and the 70th. It was the pioneer of the functional design that we can see today in Filippa K, Rodebjer and even H&M design.
I know Katja Geiger is very proud of what she achieved. She should be. It is just a shame that it didn’t last.
The autumn pictures below from south of Sweden reflects my nostalgic mood.
Thick and well sculptured eyebrows is high fashion. The picture of Frida Kahlo and especially her hairy eyebrows seems to be so typical her. I wonder, with admiration, if she knew that they fit her size of face well and gave her face a caracteristic look. It is not thin eyebrows you should have nowadays which is a challenge for women like me.
Frida Kahlo’s eyebrows are clearly visible, show her eyes and sculpture her face. The right shape will manicure the face and give it a mini face-lift. That’s anyway what the beauty shop will tell you when you, with colour and manicure, trying to get visible eyebrows. For Frida Kahlo this came naturally.