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Style, innovation & equality


The Scandinavian Academy of Fashion Design was founded in 1931 by Margrethe Glad. Originally known as Margrethe-Skolen, after Princess Margrethe of Bourbon-Parma,the academy changed its name in 2017. It has expanded from its original buildings in Østergade where it has been since 1953, to Badstuestræde, both located in the old town of Copenhagen. The school has a long tradition of strong international and national relations within the fashion industry.

Photography Erik André Nes

Mikkel Lykke Sinnerup Johansen is from the island of Fyn in Denmark and has studied at the Scandinavian Academy of Fashion Design in Copenhagen for around 18 months. He’s always been interested in how people look and dress themselves, and that, combined with a fondness for drawing and creating, led him to study fashion design. He’s always showed big interest in how people look and dress themselves, and that in mixture with a fondness for drawing and creating led him to design. Before SAFD, he also attended the Scandinavian Design College in Randers, Denmark. His ambition after finishing school is to take what he has learned with him out into the ”real world” to work for an established brand.

Have your expectaitions of fashion education been well met at the school you attend?

— Coming into the world and education of fashion, I did not have a lot of expectations. Everything was so new and different from what I was used to, so in the beginning it was all about learning and trying to understand what was going on. Now, I think I have a clearer vision of what this education can actually bring, and I know now that fashion is a career for me, depending only on how I choose to work and use this education. One of the things I like best about the school, is that it’s very ”hands on”. We design, construct and sew everything our-selves, and I think there’s a lot of focus on the making and crafting of the pieces, which I really like. Knowing that the quality of what you present or sell to another person is as good as it can be, it really means a lot to me.

After you've graduated and are out in the "real world", what do you hope to learn?

— When I someday get myself into the industry, working for a brand, I hope to learn more about the basics of running it. I want to learn more about the technicalities of working with suppliers and factories in other parts of the world. I want to know more about the ”chain” in which the whole process of designing, producing and selling moves through.

Do you have any specific areas of interest when it comes to design?

— I know which fields I like to work in. I love denim for example. The world of stitching, the material, the way it tears and just gets better and more beautiful over time. I think I can also say that I like making garments that have a long expected lifetime. I love clothing that develop through use and become more personal over time.

Originally from Stockholm, Isabella Barghi is studying for a bachelors’ degree in fashion design at SAFD in Denmark. She began at the academy in 2016, having previously studied textiles and fashion for two years. For her, fashion is an expression of her visions and thoughts, through someone else as the media. It’s a way to provoke society around her and affect people’s views of art, sexuality and what fashion is and can be.

How do you prefer to provoke and affect our society through your work?

— Usually when I develop a collection or a project, my starting point is a subject that is deeper rooted in politics instead of fashion. From the chosen subject, I’m creating designs that tell that story — aesthetically attractive but with a point and meaning that is obvious when knowing the story. That is why my work becomes meaningful when showing the process behind it, which is important to me when I present it. Another perspective I of- ten work with is challenging the viewers’ perception of fashion, and giving them an interstitial path between art and clothing.

SAFD is the only school in this reportage that is private; Do you think this has made a difference education-wise?

— I don’t necessarily believe the school is different from non-private ones. It is hard for me to tell, as I don’t have the experience from a public school on this level. According to people I know from other design schools, SAFD is more construction- and sowing-oriented than many others, and we have teachers available to help during the majority of school hours, because of the small size of the school — it’s very intimate, there is one class per year around 20 students in each class.

What do you see yourself doing after your BA?

— I would love to work for a designer with complete ground-breaking visions; I don’t mind commerciality to some extent, as long as I get to be a part of a very creative space. I enjoy working with fashion in so many different aspects; I love the functionality and technique behind sportswear, I also love suits and gowns with crazy textile manipulations. As you might tell, I’m pretty open for my career to take different directions, and hopefully I will have worked with all of it in 20 years.

Rene Gurskov has been making clothing since an early age, inspired by his mother who worked from home as a seamstress. He later took drawing lessons at KADK, and went to cutting school before entering SAFD. He’s always loved being a fashion student, and being back as a teacher is rewarding. Gurskov was an examiner at various colleges before being offered a permanent teaching position at SAFD, which he took without hesitation. The role has become a big part of his creative life — working with students has inspired him in his personal work and brand.

How do you work at SAFD?

— We at SAFD try to balance creativity, theory and technical knowledge. We don’t think that one can exist without the other. You simply become a better designer when you know cutting, sewing and promotion on a certain level. Trying to create a career later on, you need stamina. The teachers at SAFD are all working in the fashion industry and we come from different education systems, so we can provide the students qualified inputs from many angles.

You're the oldest fashion and design school in Scandinavia, what does this mean to you? You're also the only private school in this feature, which means that the students need to pay a fee to study, are there any differences compared to public schools?

— True, we are the oldest and that means we have a history of many students and lectures to preserve. It’s also proof that most things were done right. This doesn’t mean we rely on our history — SAFD is in constant movement. Since we are part of the SU system we have to meet certain demands from the authorities and SAFD is checked every fourth year. The biggest difference from the public ones in Denmark is that we have 25 lessons a week, so it’s full-time study. It’s also important for me and us to say that you do not pay for the exams — the exam jury consists of renowned fashion professionals — under the surveillance of Danish authorities. To put it straight, you can flunk!

What role do you think fashion theory plays in fashion education?

— No secret that we talk and write a lot about fashion, about gender, sustainability and inclusion. Personally I think theory is the basis for a good collection. Theory gives you a working method and points you collection in the direction of a market. Fashion education should go with the times — we try to make the education match the demands of the fashion business.