In March 2022, celebrity fashion counterculturalist Julia Fox arrived at the Vanity Fair Oscar After-Party dressed in a head-turning black leather gown with a halter-neck-turned-hand wrapped around her neck.
The “grip dress” made headlines across the fashion press. Fox’s look had “won the blue carpet,” wrote Vanity Fair, while Grazia called it “a contender for most controversial look ever.” When quizzed about the designer, Fox faltered. “Hans,” she told Vanity Fair that night, “the last name is German and I can’t pronounce.”
Julia Fox wore the Han Kjøbenhavn look to the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party. Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
It was in fact a Danish last name: Kjøbenhavn as in Han Kjøbenhavn, a label founded by Danish designer Jannik Wikkelsø Davidsen. The look was part of the brand’s Spring-Summer 2022 collection, with a made-to-measure version fashioned for Fox at the request of her stylist Briana Andalore around eight months before Oscars night — though Davidsen had no idea what it would be worn for.
“It was not like we knew the occasion,” he told CNN over a video call before his latest presentation at Copenhagen Fashion Week. “Because of the time difference, I woke up in the morning, checked my emails and saw my notifications going crazy. I think the combination of Julia Fox and her having the courage to wear the dress — which is such a specific aesthetic — at such a classic event made it blow up the way it did.”
Davidsen certainly makes clothes for fearless people (Beyoncé wore one of Han Kjøbenhavn’s surrealist gold body coils on her most recent British Vogue cover), but also for those who want to instill a little fear in others. Many elements of the fashion industry inspire cold-sweat trepidation (re-watch “The Devil Wears Prada” if you need convincing), but Davidsen’s work is undeniably haunting: At his showroom presentation in Copenhagen’s city center, a smoke machine pumped atmospheric fog into the white-walled studio while flickering lights and static interrupted projected campaign imagery. Display mannequins dressed in boxy, Frankenstein-style coats peaked through dry ice. The jackets (made from either leather, denim or what looked like wet feathers) were all cut into Davidsen’s signature monstrous silhouette — giant, cartoonish shoulders that quickly taper down the body.
“Unknown Fantasy” was presented at the Han Kjøbenhavn showroom in Copenhagen last week. Credit: Han Kjøbenhavn
Rising star power
Elsewhere at Copenhagen Fashion Week — which ran from Tuesday 9 August to Friday 12 August — another label seemingly favored by Fox presented a new collection.
Skirts and dresses dominated Cropper’s runway, though the clothes were anything but girlish. Her use of printed mesh, raw-hemmed denim and dynamic cut-outs gave way to a darker version of femininity. “I’m working with femininity but it has to have this edge, this power,” she told CNN after the show. Cropper felt vindicated when one of her runway models told her, “I only wear masculine things, only trousers — but if I’m going to wear feminine clothes, this is what I would wear.”
Jade Cropper SS23 gave traditional feminine forms a twist. Credit: James Cochrane