I needed my work to serve a purpose, and now I have found it
Anna-Sara Dåvik has left the city for the countryside and works from a studio inside a castle looking over a lake. The move was, in all ease, the beginning of a new era for Anna-Sara – one with a clear message and a new way of working. It’s an era soon ready to be showcased to the world.
Anna-Sara Dåvik is about to release a new website. Hearing her talk about it, I understand the significance it holds for her. It marks a step in a new direction, a move towards a slightly more accessible Anna-Sara Dåvik. Someone who has a clear message, more direct than before.
At the turn of the year, she’ll release a new concept – a new way of working. When I pay a visit in her beautiful studio looking over the water, an hours drive from Stockholm, Anna-Sara Dåvik tells me that the made-to-measure orders that she’s focused on for recent years will take about a forth of her time when she’s launched this concept. The rest of the time will be spent differently, only‚ she won’t tell me how just yet. All I do get to know is that there’s a new label. I can see them, literally, the labels, on her desk. They say: MME A–S DÅVIK.
– I don’t want to tell you too much. But I look forward to seeing how people will react. It’s kind of a thought that’s grown on me.
– It has to do with a return to an old way of working – and at the same time in a new way. I’ve felt that with all the private orders, it’s important for me to embrace the role of an expert; of knowing about what looks good with credibility. It’s important for people for me to be able to tell them what’s right. I want to dig deeper into that role.
People appreciate you telling them what to wear.
– Yes. At least when it comes to more exclusive clothes. But it also has something to do with respect for the pieces, and for the fact that they are made especially for someone.
So are we talking about a new collection here?
It’s something else.
– Yes. I looked into doing a PhD for a while. I really feel an urge for science, to broaden and deepen my knowledge. But at the end, I don’t want to write, rather research. And still have the creative process…
So the craftsmanship will still be in focus in this new concept?
– The craftmanship is the foundation still. But It’ll be a way of reaching more people. It’ll be a faster process, but still personal.
Ok. I don’t understand much, but it sounds interesting.
– Yes. I’m excited. I’m feeling very ready to be clear about it. I haven’t wanted to say who I am before I’ve known it myself. I’ve wanted it to feel right and real. And now, I’m ready.
So you’ve reached a point when you’re ready to tell the world what you’re about.
– Yes. I understand my purpose now and I can see that it also fills a purpose in the world around. Suddenly it makes sense in a way. It makes me feel free. I don’t have to do things in a specific way just because it is how it is suppose to be done within the business – I just have to do whatever I believe in. Even if it is an utopia, a romantic vision – I think it will affect others and mean something. I think the world needs more people to follow there own intuition.
You’re talking about networking. God I hate it.
– But now I feel that as long as what I’m doing is strong and also more evident, it’ll be huge leap from what I used to be. My website hasn’t been updated in a long time…. And I’ve struggled with being clear. About who I am and what I want.
Don’t get me wrong – I have never been unsure of my work – I have always felt very secure about it, my style and so on. It is more that I am pragmatic – I needed it to serve a purpose, and I have now found it.
Why do you think that is?
– I just haven’t been ready until now. I haven’t known that this is how I want things to happen. I am happy that I gave myself time to develop in this way. Because in the long run it doesn’t matter that it took time – what matters is that what I do actually contribute to something good – on many levels. Now, I strongly feel that simple and straight forward information about my work is what I need to progress. It takes me a long way. To actually let others understand my world and vision.
Ok. That, I understand.
– I had a period after the show in 2009 that went on for about two years, when I felt like I was tied up. I guess it started earlier. The schools in London and Stockholm were fantastic in many ways, but you do get pushed into an idea of what success is and how you’re supposed to go about to achieve it. If you don’t have it, it’s considered a failure. I have realized that thinking about these things gets me stuck. I need to find a way to be as creative and productive as possible – and only then what I do can be truly strong. So I try to avoid thinking about the business and focus on being strong and communicative in what I do.
When it comes to expression, Anna-Sara Dåvik is probably the most recognizable designers I’ve come across. Her pieces are dramatically simple in appearance yet complex, substantial in construction. There’s a solid elegance; something real about it. Anna-Sara’s clothes carries a lot of her personality, but are also clothes that everyone should wear. A proper coat. A proper pair of trousers.
And not a part of making them is compromised. Not a single part.
I repeat it, because it really is uncommon.
– When I did the show in Stockholm I didn’t really know what to make of it. I didn’t feel that I belonged as a ”brand”. And I choose not to sell my clothes to stores early on. I felt that I would lose purpose doing that, since I work so closely to my garments. I really feel that that’s an added value – me working closely to the pieces means they mean more to others. It’s taken me a while to get where I am now. But it feels good.
Anna-Sara’s textiles really are close to her; they are covering the walls of her studio. Which makes me think: With some designers, talking about sustainable fashion as a concept feels a little strange. There’s only fashion, as Bruno Pieters says to Make it last. Some produce it in a sustainable way, others don’t. Some choose to adjust their production, because it’s something they have to do. Some just create in better accordance with nature. Slower. More aware. Because for them, there’s no other option.
– It has to do with a feeling of responsibility… to not produce things that aren’t of any good. It’s always been very important for me.
So you want to contribute to a more positive system?
– Well. The idea of fashion being about trends has never been for me. I think of it as something more personal, something strong, strengthening. I really do think that we need to think more about our consumption patterns. I heard on the radio this morning that Sweden is number ten on the list of countries where consumption is at its highest. I want to contribute to changing people’s way of thinking. And I guess I want garments to mean something, for real. Definitely consume less and be more aware.
What do you think about the state of that change?
– I wish that people would find their fits and that they are personal, individual. Not think about how you should look but instead think: this is what works for me, this makes me feel good and look good. And take care of your wardrobe like garments are companions through life. Strive towards perfection with fit and functionality –you can still make it look cool or elegant or what ever you want. In the end it will save you a lot of time, and bring you confidence.
Why is it so uncommon with made-to-measure?
– Lack of time. And ignorance about what you contribute to, partly. Time has to be rationalized. People want to click to buy. Clothes have lost value somehow.
To strive for something long-lasting is something that’s in your backbone. Does it feel strange for you to talk about sustainability in fashion as a concept?
– No. But in my case it’s always been there. I only source textiles from an Italian company that keeps carry-overs from the big fashion houses and weaving mills. Since I work with classic materials I don’t have to buy the very latest, and not in huge quantities. I meet with them and choose materials that fit me… wool, viscose, silk.
And you bring them to the castle outside Stockholm. What does this studio mean to you?
– I think it contributes to the sense of a bigger perspective. The history of this building and nature is very present.
You really did make that move from the city to the countryside. How has it been?
– Me and my husband both come from the countryside from the beginning, so it feels like something we need to be well. We also have a four year old daughter – Norma. When she came we started talking more intensely about what kind of life we wanted.
– You slow down, you don’t spend the weekends consuming things. You enjoy being in the garden or out in the woods. You get luxury without the cost, like growing your own foods and flowers…
That idea of luxury really has been kidnapped.
– The simpler life really can be so deep and rich. There’s another focus all together. Had we worked with things that made us more money, perhaps we would’ve travelled more and gotten deep experiences through that. This is also a consequence of me not wanting to compromise with what I do. What I do takes a lot of time, and I really don’t do it for the money. What is beautiful is how it can be a circle here. The atelier – the house – the garden. And my daughter can be included in natural way.
– And it works. A life without focus on money and status. It’s really good.
So what has living in the countryside meant for your design process?
– I think it’s enhanced my sense of… you know, a good pair of pants. A good jacket. Something simple that lasts. I do more luxurious things as well, but then knowing that the piece will live on for a hundred years.
Isn’t that thought scary?
– No, I love that thought! I wish clothes could live on forever. I’m participating in an exhibition this spring, curated by Karina Ericsson Wärn. I love the idea of clothes in a museum. I get more excited about that than seeing someone wearing my design.
Do you keep yourself updated on fashion in general?
– Yes, I look at the some of the ready to wear shows in Paris in Milan. And I watch the couture shows as well. It is important for me to see other talented people and there visions. Because I compare myself with the best, To be in the forefront design wise is very important for me.
What is your future dream scenario?
–To work like I do today, only in bigger scale. I don’t want to do the actual sewing myself. But I want to be present, and keep the same level of quality. To eventually spread my message and my world.
Do you want to stay here, close to the water?
– My dream is to keep this place as my hide away, but also have a studio on Tysta Gatan. And also travel, and perhaps do consulting somewhere…
What kind of consulting?
– Drawing designs and researching.
Have you done anything of that kind?
– Yes, but I don’t usually talk about those things very much. But now there’s the collection for & Other Stories.
Yes! Would you tell me a little bit more about that?
– I’ve done a full collection, garments, bags, shoes and jewelry. I’ve tried to pinpoint myself and do something clear and typically me.
That clearness seems to be on your mind a lot right now?
– Yes. I think it’s what I need to move forward.
The & Other Stories collection means entering a whole other world. How will it feel when the collection is released?
– & Other Stories everywhere now, soon opening i New York… I think there might be a sense of anticlimax on that day. I’ve worked on it for a year, and I’ve put a lot of time into it. Now I’m ready for the world to see it. I am excited.
Has doing the & Other Stories collection changed your view of how things work in the industry?
– It’s been something completely different for me. It’s been exciting to see how it works, and it’s been fun to do shoes and bags, I’ve never done that before. Let’s say I’ve gained experiences that I can relate to in different ways. I am very happy with it.
That show you did in 2009 kind of lingers on in the minds of us, the ones who were there to see it. Would you want to do a show again?
– Definitely, sometime in the future. It’s not like I’ve made a decision to stand outside that world, I want to be in it, it just needs to be in a way that works for me. I would love to somehow be part of fashion week, even if it doesn’t have to be in a commercial way. It would be fun to shed light on important subjects, somehow…
How I long for that day. It would be so very enriching for the fashion week lineup.
Words by Lisa Corneliusson
On top of a new website, a collection for & Other Stories and a new concept to be launched for 2015 – Anna-Sara Dåvik also participates in an exhibition on Kulturhuset Stadsteatern in 2015 called Asylum, alongside Patrik Söderstam, Martin Margiela, Maria Miesenberger, Rut Hillarp, Juun.J and others.
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