Anna-Sara Dåvik Portrait 2009
Gifted with a sharp vision an eloquent design language, Anna-Sara Dåvik eliminates the superfluous and replaces definitions of things, words and contexts with her very own perception. The surreal, the disproportionate, the asexual and indefinable. In her world women are warriors. And random matter provides their weapon. Flowers, boxes, nail gloves. I am honoured to introduce to you: A conversation about the essence of The Essence of A-S Dåvik.
Essence of A-S (2009)
Dear Anna, what are you wearing right now?
I'm wearing a white long thin-knitted cardigan with rubber shoulder pads underneath and white skirt-like trousers. Dark brown men's shoes and silver socks.
When did you decide to design clothes?
When I was 19. At first I thought I was going to do ceramics or graphic design but I ended up moving into another direction. Which, when I look at it now, has always been quite marked out. But I really like most aesthetic areas, which is why I like to do a lot myself – I often do everything from photo to graphic design etc. I enjoy it. My world is as much interior as jewellery as illustration etc. But I also love collaborations.
Your line is quite young? How did everything evolve?
I started working on the first A-S Dåvik collection autumn of 2008. After my MA I went to Paris and ended up not wanting to stay. I thought that was what I wanted to do, but it wasn't. It wasn't my path and I never force it. I started working on the “Essence of A-S” collection there, so instead of going out I ended up on the floor drawing loads and wanting to go home. I moved back to Sweden and started my company.
You graduated with likes of Christopher Kane. Can you tell us any secret anecdotes?
Yes, it was amazing to see a glimpse of his amazing journey. I remember sharing a cab with him and then Azzedine Alaia called or someone from his office – not quite sure. Anyway, Alaia wanted to have tea with him when visiting London. Stories like this happened all the time. He seemed to take everything like it was the most natural thing.
Essence of A-S (2009)
I once stated a monstrous appeal to your creations. The woman's proportions are seemingly exaggerated and enlarged. Could you elaborate on your concept of feminity?
I think it's that type of feminity that attracts me and the feminity I want to express through my work is maybe a part of whom I aspire to be myself. A lot of my view on feminity is also influenced by my mom. The shapes and designs of the garments that you talk about is something I can't really explain. It's just what I think is elegant and strong proportion-wise and enhances my vision of what I like women to wear. It comes from intuition and from what I think looks good.
Your models seem like supernatural creations, almost flying in their wafting robes, very angelic but also very mystic. A romantic version of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse?
Women are warriors.
Little Horsti is the total opposite of your overwhelmingly strong women. He could hide under their skirts and smell their tulip perfume. How can he compete against their power?
Overwhelmingly strong – I think he needs to reflect upon why he is intimidated by strong women.
Details Essence of A-S
I totally loved the black garbage bags and bricks that accompanied your Spring/Summer 2010 presentation. What is the story behind these accessories?
With the garbage bag I wanted to bring in another dimension of material to the collection and it turned out beautifully when hand lined and equipped with proper bag details. It was just an idea that gave enough energy for me to do it and it worked. The “bricks” you refer to were jewellery boxes. To enhance the jewellery they carried the boxes. The boxes are really lovely, they are items in themselves.
Paper roll brooch in silicon puddle
Every detail is balanced out to perfection: twisted tights, random objects applied as brooches, beard-like collar pieces. How do you create your cohesive universe?
Wow, thank you. Shit, I don't know. I have a complicated relationship with my work. I try to pay attention to myself and the entirety of the pieces. When it turns me on or gives me energy I follow it. I try to communicate the world I've created in my head and when I do something that feels right the body or maybe rather the mind sort of react. Intuition is key for me. I search with my hands to please my eyes. The thing is that you never quite succeed in presenting what's in your head and that's what keeps you creating.
Another trademark of yours is the colour palette. It's all about greys and pales. Very soft and soothing. A romantic counterpart to the power woman theme?
I always tend to fall for those colours in fabrics. I haven't questioned it yet. I've chosen to go with that. Maybe I'm just very Scandinavian. I like it being colorful without using strong colors as such. I don't wear much colour myself either. I'm not a very loud person. I like harmony rather than contrast.
Suit Yourself (2010)
While your former collection communicated masculinity through exaggerated feminity, your new project Suit Yourself quotes formal menswear more literally. Was this a conscious step?
This time it was more the other way around. I think I just wanted to see what happens when doing it differently. I've also reacted a bit towards everything turning out very romantic – which I have a hard time dealing with. I felt it was interesting to try and do something more peeled off somehow, to move away a bit from the obvious romantic, but it's still there somewhere.
Pale grey belted coat worn with grey trouser skirt, yellow shirt and Dijon scarf
Could you describe this particular look and your approach?
It's flirting a bit with the art lady. The contrast between a very formal shirt, an immaculate coat and that scarf just worn nonchalantly over the shoulder. It's responsible and grown up. It's a bit tiring that people want to dress young. To me it's so much more interesting and powerful to dress mature.
It feels your garments suit perfectly while remaining a wee bit too big. Can it be interpreted as an element of protection, a shield of cloth to hide underneath? Or does it rather serve to underline its surreal feel?
It just looks better to me. It has the right feel to it. Maybe it has to do with both.
When looking at your latest project and comparing it to your graduate collection, the MA pieces appear way more experimental and anti-wearable, almost a pastiche on clothing. Has your perception of fashion changed?
Yes I think it has. Or you know – I have changed maybe. What excites me has changed a bit. I'm paying more attention towards precision in the cut and choices of fabrics now. Therefore, I want this aspects to take more space in the wholeness of a project rather than emphasizing the ideas.
Designing jewellery, like the nail ring, is an important field for you?
It's just an idea that really worked and you know, what is important for me in the jewellery project is that it's actually something that's relevant in contemporary fashion and it won't just die – I believe those jewellery are classics, new classics. That's what I try to do with clothes as well, or with everything I create. I want to be able to create things that are relevant and that will be relevant for more than 6 months – but there is something about metal that makes it easier to create timelessness. In that sense the jewellery is important to me. I've managed to create something that I really like. I usually get tired of things after a while.
Fake Nail Jewellery in 18k gold
Do you evolve a story with every collection? If so, please tell us your fairytale!
No. I create a visual and emotional universe before and with every project but it's usually the same story told over and over again – but with different executions. Maybe it is kind of a story in my head, but I don't think of it that way. It's all quite diffuse in there and crystal clear at the same time. I don't know what I want – but I know what I don't want. It's a journey every time.
Would you define yourself as concept artist expressing yourself via clothes?
No, I'm a fashion designer. Fashion can be whatever you want it to be.
Would you provide us with a covert insight on your working process?
I've opened up my sketchbook especially for you, never done this before.
A-S Dåvik sketchbook
I am really curious how the male version of your aesthetics would look like. Who is he?
I've never met him, I don't know.
Talking about men... what kind of guy do you fancy?
Guys in coats, no, I don't know. Those things can't be explained. It's too complex. All I know is that I found mine and he is intelligent, beautiful, kind, strong, fragile, funny all in the right ways – amongst all other things he is.
Who is he, how did you meet? And: Did he wear a coat?
He is a gardener. We met 10 ½ years ago via mutual friends, we were 20. He wore a windbreaker, but he grew up to become a coat man.
Especially your nail gloves left me with a certain imagination, the raw fight, and the scratch, the biting. Silly connotations or nice scenario?
I won't judge your imagination. In my head the gloves are more about sitting at an outdoor café, wearing a nice coat, sipping on a perfect cappuccino.
Nail gloves in box
What is the weirdest thing you own?
Flat screen TV.
The most insane thing you ever did?
Went to a Holy Spirit meeting in London when I was 15.
Are you spiritual?
Sometimes. I think it's interesting and I reflect a lot upon it.
Do you own a talisman?
Are you afraid of death?
Yes, in the sense of people around me dying.
Loobook shot, Essence of A-S
Is there an object, a form, a word that fascinates you?
The body and the word “virtue”.
Regarding your childhood, what do you think marked you the most?
I think growing up on the countryside in a really small village is one of the things that has really affected who I am.
Any aesthetic traumata – in the most positive sense?
Mail ordering catalogues were amazing. That was the type of fashion that reached me. I think that has really influenced my work when it comes to clothes. And I think it partly explains why I tend to work more around a woman's everyday wardrobe rather than spectacular dresses or knits for example. You could say I'm influenced by mass-produced garments. That's my theory at least. That's one of my traumas – only having mail ordering catalogues – he he.
What is the most amazing smell?
Today I long for the smell of newly cut grass.
Which materials do attract you?
Mostly fabrics – surprise! Sometimes paper.
A-S Dåvik studio
What do you love most about yourself?
The ability of surrounding myself with amazing people. I'm really humble when I think about the people that surround me.
And finally, what is your secret?
Secret to what?
Secret to life, secret to success, secret to sex?
Haha, as if I would have figured that out. I do stuff by intuition, that's my secret.
Thank you very much.