- Danielle Wightman-Stone |
Swedish fashion designer Gudrun Sjödén is celebrating 40 years of her colourful design with an exhibition at the Style and Textile Museum in London.
The small exhibit showcases Gudrun Sjödén, one of Sweden’s most successful designers, love of colour, her creative design approach, as well as the label championing sustainability.
Running until May 7, the exhibition displays a small selection of her colourful designs illustrating her four decades in the business, alongside the artistic process of creating the prints, which the designer does by hand by using watercolours and sketches. There is also a look at the catalogues from the brand’s archive, which started off as hand-written lookbooks to promote the collections, as well as videos showing behind-the-scene footage from fashion shoots and shows.
The exhibition explores how the designer’s clothing has developed over the years and offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the workings of a fashion business that has grown from a small, single-storey store to one of Sweden’s largest fashion exporters.
The idea of the exhibition is to highlight Gudrun Sjödén’s ability to reach a segment sometimes disregarded by the fashion industry, women who dare to stand out from the crowd, which is clearly highlighted in the designer’s style, where her colourful mix of layers is always co-ordinated with a brightly coloured glasses and accessories.
So what drives a fashion designer at the top for four decades? “The thrill of the creative process,” said Sjödén, chief designer and chief executive of the brand. “It is constantly ongoing in my mind.”
Style and Texile Museum celebrates 40 years of Gudrun Sjödén
Gudrun Sjödén is also widely recognised as a pioneer of sustainable fashion and the display highlights how environmental thinking is at the core of every collection. The label’s designs promote the use of natural materials, often with strong Nordic influences, and a conscious effort to offer the consumer more sustainable and ‘green’ materials.
Monica Ekervik-Hedman, the brand’s head of communications, said: “With nature as the inspiration, natural, sustainable fibres is not commercial, it is part of the brand’s DNA.
“We don’t tell it so much, but 93 percent of the current spring/summer 2017 is made from sustainable sources. We know this as we work closely with our suppliers who we’ve been working with for many years.”
Ekervik-Hedman added: “Gudrun also promotes green values such as buying things that you can have for a long time. It also helps that we are not working with different trends, so our pieces can be mixed and matched with previous collections.”
Founded in 1976, Gudrun Sjödén opened its first store in Stockholm, but it wasn’t until its mail-order sales started to take off in 1978 that it became a force within fashion, recording turnover of just under 200,000 pounds that year. This was followed up by expansion into Germany and the US in the 80s, before launching mail order and e-commerce in Norway and the UK in the 90s. Today, the Swedish brand has customers in 52 countries and stores in seven markets including the UK, which opened five years ago on Monmouth Street near Covent Garden. The brand has an annual turnover of around 67 million pounds.
Gudrun Sjödén: Four Decades of Colour and Design runs at the Style and Textile Museum until May 7.
Images: taken by Danielle Wightman-Stone