What makes a successful fashion designer? For Nikolaj Storm it involves distinctive aesthetics, loud designs and the ability to create provocative silhouettes that combine sports elements with couture. Born and raised in Denmark, Nikolaj Storm is studying fashion at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Before he presented his Bachelor collection to international press and industry professionals, I talked to Nikolaj about turning stories into collections, dynamic designs and which celeb he’d like to dress.
For people who are not familiar with your work, what’s the name of your brand and who are you designing for?
The brand is called “Nikolaj Storm Copenhagen” – as my name Nikolaj Storm and I’m designing menswear. I think there’s a lot of great designers and opportunities for womenswear out there and I think that there’s so much happening in menswear right now, that I really want to focus on and put my energy in that. I really want to inspire men to push their boundaries so that they see that fashion is so much more than just a suit for example. I want to show that you can even dress formal in sports clothes. I want to mix things up a little bit and ask myself how can we try something new and see how much we can push the limits.
What’s your personal definition of masculinity. Or do you even think in different types of gender?
Yeah, actually I do a lot because I think that ladies should be allowed to dress in masculine things and men should do the same. But I really want to dress men in a masculine and sensual way. You know, it doesn’t have to be feminine. I can use pink colors, I can use lace and stuff like that, but I really want the expression to be masculine, not to be girly or anything. I really want to find a balance where you still see that it’s really masculine and not look like unisex clothes.
Your style reminds me a little bit of Astrid Andersen’s style. Is she an inspiration to you?
Yeah actually she’s been a huge inspiration to me. Not to sound harsh or anything, but now that she’s done her signature and I really love it, but you can also see in some sort of way that she’s become more commercial. And I know that this is normal when you’ve entered the business that you really have to sell, but I hope and I will always try to do like fun stuff and showpieces and then you can always have the other stuff in the background. To me it’s important to take it further all the time!
It’s really hard to live from designs that are mostly for the show and not to sell. What’s your plan for the next two or three years to establish your brand?
My plan in order, continue working like that. I want to to do shows, where you show the special pieces and I’m well aware that you can’t wear everything out of this collection. But then I will do a basic collection that comes afterwards. So my strategy is to combine those two elements. So what I want to do is to take some elements and tone them down, so that you have a lot of pictures and campaigns of the show pieces and then you have the actual collection that is more for like everyday wear. So then you still make money but you can show off your creative side as well.
How would you define your aesthetics in one sentense?
The things that I always focus on are always rooted in the sportswear and then I try to combine it with something humourous. I think that’s the main focus I have. And my teacher said to my final exam that she didn’t know if she’d met boys in town how she should react. She didn’t know whether she should be afraid of them or if she should laugh. I think it’s a nice definition, because you don’t know if you should laugh at them, because they look a little bit funny or you should be affraid because they have so much attitude. And I really liked to hear that, because that’s the way I want to go.
As we talked about Astrid Andersen before, she now has very famous clients now like Miley Cyrus or Rihanna. Which celebrity would you like to dress?
This is hard, because you there’s a difference between a celebrity I really would like to dress, like a really famous person. It would be really fun to put Justin Bieber in something, because you get a lot of PR. But I don’t think that Justin Bieber for example would be combined with my clothes because I don’t think he’s there yet. I’d rather see my clothes on Ollie from Years & Years because he’s trying to push the boundaries in the same way.
Right now we’re living in a time of gender fluidity, where do you see this topic in the future?
That’s exactly what I want to work with. Right now everything’s very fluid and I think you will come to a point where you really want to seperate those two again, where you want the girls to be more feminine and the boys to be more masculine. That’s why even though my stuff can contain feminine aspects you still need that kind of masculine forms and sculptural pieces to really embrace the masculine. But I still think you have that certain part where you can take elements from both genders and mix it up but you still have to divide it so that you can see that it’s a jacket for men and a jacket for unisex and a jacket for a girl.
So this collection is you Bacherlor’s collection. Are you going to take the Master’s as well?
I’m also going to take the master’s and hopefully things will go right and after that I will take off by myself.
Thanks for the nice talk Nikolaj!