Finding myself in Copenhagen for a month back in May, it was the perfect opportunity to meet the designers of up and coming Danish label Baum und Pferdgarten.
Baum und Pferdgarten was founded in 1999 by Rikke Baumgarten and Helle Hestehave. Based in the heart of Copenhagen, the label has since then won several awards, including Best Danish Brand, and the collections are available in many countries. Working on contrasts, the designers offer a minimalist – sometimes sporty, always feminine – silhouette, with (blissfully) unexpected combinations of colours and fabrics.
I met Rikke and Helle in their signature store and showroom in Copenhagen.
– How did you two meet and decide to work in fashion?
Both: We met at the School of Design (part of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts). At the end of our studies, we really wanted to do something together. We obtained a scholarship, which allowed us to start our own business. It was in 1999, and we started with a summer collection of about 12 pieces. There were very unique pieces, in all aspects, declined in a palette of white, blue and pink, which are the main colours for Baum und Pferdgarten.
For the first two collections, we did pretty much everything ourselves, from the pattern design to the selling part. We approached big department stores, which accepted to distribute our brand, and finally opened our own shop in February 2010.
It’s really motivating to be part of all the decisions regarding your label, having the ability to influence what direction it will take in the coming years. Also, we are the creative designers, and there is no one on top of us. We follow the whole process, from design to catwalk, and shop.
– What are your sources of inspiration?
Both: Fabric, as well as prints, is fundamental to us. Our inspiration comes from design images. We draw inspiration from everyday’s life, from books to films, even to music, and of course other designers’ work. We also always have in mind some kind of sport reference when creating a collection, which varies from season to season.
Helle: I was fascinated by Rikke’s designs. We are very different in a way. I like simple shapes, Jil Sander looks, where Rikke’s universe is more about more sculptured shapes, colourful and more expressive designs. I particularly like the new silhouettes from Japanese designers, for instance, and the technique behind is quite fascinating.
Rikke: We also keep up to date with street style; this is very important as you can see how real people work the current trends or invent new ones. We use Internet quite a lot, particularly blogs such as Wit and Delight or RustyBreak.
– You mentioned how fabric and prints are important in your creative process – what would you say are your signature fabrics?
Both: Silk, without a doubt. It’s comfortable, beautiful, it gives energy to the prints – we have had silk in every collection. On the opposite end of the fabric spectrum, we also use jersey a lot. More generally, we love quality in terms of fabrics, whether there are natural or technical fabrics, such as nylon or polyester. We used neoprene quite a lot for our outerwear pieces, for instance – it’s perfect for this kind of purposes! It’s also always stimulating to combine natural fabrics such as cotton or silk, to these new ones. It makes for interesting contrast.
– How does your collaboration work? Does one of you work more on some parts of the process and the other on
others, or do you work together at every stage of the creative process?
Rikke: Helle works more on jersey, or heavy fabrics in general; I focus more on lights fabrics and accessories. But other than that, we share equally all ideas; we get feedback from each other at every stage to ensure the collection is consistent.
We come from two different universes and together we create something new.
Helle: Although, funnily enough, when we go shopping, we are attracted to the same things. We might see different shapes, silhouettes, but we love the same things!
– Do you sometimes team up with other designers for collaborations – accessories for instance?
Helle: Not much at the moment, but we definitely regularly work with print designers, sometimes embroidery specialists.
Rikke: On one of the blogs I follow regularly, I found a print designer working in New York, I emailed her and we are now using one of her prints. These are the kind of small collaborations we do.
– Who is your typical customer?
Rikke: I would say she is in her thirties, and likes fashion, style – which is actually quite a large audience! When we design our collections, we try to think wider in terms of customers taste, price range, etc.
– Your collections are now available all around the world – how would you like your label to evolve in the coming years?
Both: There is definitely more retail in the future of Baum und Pferdgarten, with more stores but also an increased presence on the Internet, through our online shop. Our brand is currently distributed in department stores all around the world, but we want to open more shops ourselves – we would absolutely love a signature store in Stockholm for instance. There are also many possibilities for a label like ours in countries like Germany or France, or the UK. We currently show our collections at the Copenhagen Fashion Week, where we have a catwalk show, but also exhibit at Paris and Berlin fairs.
– What is your best fashion memory after more than 10 years in the industry?
Helle: That would be our first show, five years ago. We started very slowly, with models almost naked, and it got crazier and crazier throughout the show. It was a complete madness at the end of it!
Rikke: One of the best memories for me is when we won the Danish Fashion Award for Best Danish Brand, in 2009. What made it even more precious is that it is first based on people’s vote. The public select 3 nominees, then a professional panel decide who the winner will be. They were actually lots of great moments, like when you see someone wearing one of your pieces. It feels amazingly good!
Baum und Pferdgarten – Vognmagergade 2 – 1120 Copenhagen K – Denmark