The Messy Massage Class of Henrik Vibskov

by Veronika Dorosheva

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“Messy Massage Class” is the title of Henrik Vibskov’s AW15 collection that he presented last week at Copenhagen fashion week. Great visuals are essential for Vibskov’s universe and he incorporates them into anything he does: the shows he stages at various fashion weeks, the prints and shapes that he is working into his collections, and the set-design and costumes he creates for theatre plays.

His current fashion show at Copenhagen fashion week was as weird and as beautiful as you could ever imagine, coming from someone who is considered to be one of the most avant-garde contemporary designers. Huge thick curtains surrounded 12 tables with people lying on top of them who were almost entirely covered with blankets; only their faces were revealed. Microphones were placed next to their mouths so that they could give their contribution to the musical atmosphere of the show by saying “ahhhhh” (“a so-called human massage vocalpiano”, according to Vibskov’s team) while 400 moving massaging hands that were placed just above them were moving up and down and touching them (I wonder, if this was a pleasant feeling to be touched by the artificial and certainly cold, hard imitations of hands…)

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“We tried to look at how we nowadays are very focused on wellness, body and massage and this kind of ‘I don’t have time, because I have to go to yoga’ – attitude, all this individual focus on the body”, explains Vibskov.“ – And he certainly hits the mark with this very apt insight into the psychology of contemporary society. Just look at hashtags on instagram such as #gym, #yoga, #massage, #healthgoth and you’ll get your fill! – “We wanted to explore the idea of entering a massage room with a lot of curtains so we created this massive massage machine that was making sounds and you will also find the same stage impressions of bodies, hands and massage related details echoed in the prints, volumes and structure.”

There were prints of palms with depicted massage zones, red oversized fingertips and flesh-imitating prints that came printed on shirts, trousers and dresses. Checkered patterns in different scales from oversized to minimal were seen on playsuits, sweaters, ensembles and dresses. Dots, lines and waves also embellished some of the garments.

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The shapes were as usual rounded, voluminous, baggy and elongated (as Vibskov likes it) rendered in bulky tops, quilted waistcoats and woolen jackets and coats, as well as curvy trousers narrowed to the ankles. Otherwise the trousers kept their classically Vibskov silhouette: cropped, low-crotched, and some very wide. Roomy and cozy knitwear pieces were great as usual: loose-knit oversized sweaters and socks, and delicate knitted skirts and leggings either in monochrome white, red or patterned with dots, lines and waves.

When asked why he doesn’t design any kind of body-conscious and slim-fitted items that focus on the body by embracing it as tightly as possible as many other designers do, picking up on the current sportswear trend, Vibskov admits that elongated and baggy silhouettes are part of the DNA of his brand and its style and signature, and certainly those are the shapes that he would wear himself: “It’s also kind of my shape. I am almost two meters tall, if I would wear skinny jeans I would have looked like a giraffe, you know…”

As usual Vibskov also came up with a special headpiece for the next season: a black egg-shaped woolen hat with a long knitted tube that goes around the hat and sometimes even reaches under the chin.

As for the colors, next winter, as Vibskov sees it, is all about black and white, creamy shades, navy blue and dark green with rare splashes of saturated red.

Vibskov is known for his engagement in other arts besides fashion and this year he worked on three theater pieces with the world premiere in February this year. He made the set-design and nearly 100 costumes for “Medulla”, the opera by Icelandic musician Björk that premiered on the 4th of February 2015 at the Brussels opera house, he did the costumes for Hotel Pro Forma’s Kosmos+ that premiered on the 4th of February in Copenhagen, and he also worked on costumes for “Peer du live!” at Riksteateret in Oslo, Norway that will premiere on the 10th of February 2015.

Two major solo exhibitions are coming up in Seoul, South Korea at the Daelim Museum in July 2015 and at Gallerie 3, Stadsteathers in Stockholm in July 2016.

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