Fashion fortunes work in mysterious ways. The ideal outcome would be to instantly break out fresh from college and continue on an upward trajectory. The alternative route would be to slow burn, turning out collections that go under the radar until finally your moment comes. Suzanne Ostwald and Ingvar Helgason forming the fashion duo Ostwald Helgason can tell you a thing or two about the latter. I wrote about Ostwald Helgason's work early on in my own gestating blogging days. They've been toiling away on collections in London, without the ability to show and instead working on solid stockists instead (Opening Ceremony being an early support). Then one A/W 12-3 season, Suzanne and Ingvar tak√© the plunge, throw all their chips in and decide to show in New York as part of Milk Made (my favourite place during NYFW, no doubt about it) and suddenly the collection is lauded, desired and snapped by streetstyle biggies in the flash of a season. Ostwald Helgason is the 'new kid on the block' again, demonstrating some weird fashion American dream, whereby crossing over Stateside actually gives you more visibility because London can get crowded with an abundance of young talent.
In this particular instance of slow burning success, Ostwald Helgason partially owe their change of luck to streetstyle advocators of their clothing from the photographers that snap away to the subjects that took a fancy to the collection – the Russian set that includes Miraslava Duma, Elena Perminova and Anya Zyourova as well as Natalie Joos of Tales of Endearment (who did their casting this season). The impact of those stray photos on a Style.com slideshow can't be overemphasised. Instantly, their SS13 presentation was buzzed up, with people circling around wondering which looks would got street-shot first.
The duo didn't disappoint as they continue to work the contrast sweatshirt and kicked-out mini skirts of their resort and autumn/winter seasons into fresh colour combinations. If the sixties is pervasive at NYFW, then Suzanne and Ingvar took a different approach by being inspired by a 1967 Vogue article on the art philanthropist Frances Lasker Brody, who collected works by Matisse and Picasso. They wanted to recapture her spirit and her love of art by injecting bright hues that are saturated like late 60s/early 70s technicolour imagery. Suzanne reimagined lions, cheetahs and crocodiles as Picasso-esque illustrations and these represent the playful part of the collection. A Matisse leaf pattern also lightens the tone. These playful touches are juxtaposed against couture-esque fabrics, specially selected from Italian mills – puckered organzas, stiffened satins/silk gazars, floral laces with the addition of tech-edged textures like rubberised checkered stretch lycra and spongey netted mesh. It's the perfect push and pull between something ornate and sporty/approachable shapes that have made Ostwald Helgason's collections soar.
Suzanne and Ingvar themselves are surprised at their rejuvenated New York comeback and naturally appreciate the success even more. Victory seems all all the more sweeter and I suppose that's what makes this duo's story compelling to onlookers who might mistakenly see them as a out-of-nowhere breakout hit.