Celebrating Ivan Grundahl, the avant-garde Danish designer

Ivan Grundahl

Celebrating Ivan Grundahl, the avant-garde Danish designer

While at IF Boutique Dubai we still mourn the passing of one of our dearest friends, the famous Danish designer Ivan Grundahl, we also continually celebrate his work as we approach the first anniversary of his untimely death.

Ivan Grundahl was certainly “larger than life.” This came out in his designs that are sought after by most of our clients and are timeless.

Grundahl, who died unexpectedly and tragically the day after his birthday on May 12, 2016, was one of the most instrumental figures in the Danish fashion industry over the past 40 years.

His fashion house was established in Copenhagen in 1973 and he remains an unchallenged avant-garde creator in Denmark.

In 1974 he opened his first shop in Mikkel Bryggers Gade selling his own collection, and from 1978, he opened several more shops in Denmark and abroad.

Instead of focusing on the fleeting fashion trends of the moment, Grundahl instead designed fashion that had longevity and could be used across generations.

Straddling layering and structure, his style is deconstructed, draped and manipulated with subtle nods to uniforms. Black and monochromes conjure dark emotion, offset by lightness and poetic fragility.

Ivan Grundahl designs are rooted in contrasts — between construction and fluidity; a balance between raw simplicity with sophistication through distressed materials, natural fibers and premium leather.

His clothes speak to empowered and independent women who appreciate craftsmanship and clever sensuality. The keywords in his collections are comfort and monochrome.

The Spring/Summer 2017 collection is the last Grundahl personally designed. He completed it just a couple of days before his death. The monochrome black and white pieces are complemented with groups of his unique red in linen, tie-and-die and black and white checks. The comfort comes from fabrics and fluidity of the designs, this summer in linen, cotton, crepe and organza. The pieces can be dressed up or down to suit any time of day or night.

There is a range of dresses, skirts and tops in see-through viscose that are so cool and smooth and versatile that they are flying off the rails. The pant suits and dresses in crepe have such elegance and freshness — especially in the Dubai heat — you just want to wear them every day.

Grundahl’s leather is so soft that it lends itself to the most stylish jackets, skirts and trousers which become collectors’ items.

There is always deconstruction and asymmetry in the collection but it is all very wearable for an everyday lifestyle and it wouldn’t matter if Ivan Grundahl had designed a hoodie or a full length dress — they all look ridiculously comfortable.

His style is one where the eerie meets the futurist world and craftsmanship meets just the right amount of nonchalance.

Grundahl has a futuristic take on simplicity, one where the texture and weight of the textiles reign supreme. Asymmetrical hems, sheer paneling and slouchy gathers help the collection to find a balance between done and undone; one where comfort and style aren’t mutually exclusive.

On Grundahl’s death, Roy Krejberg became creative director. His vision for women is artisanal and intelligent and in perfect synergy with the style of the House of Ivan Grundahl.

In his first collection for next Fall/Winter, Krejberg’s design stayed true to the Ivan Grundahl DNA with sculptural tailoring and lots of heavy layers.

But where the original pieces once designed by Grundahl himself were a bit softer and more feminine, Krejberg has injected a modern edge into the brand. This was especially true in looks like the black jacket with white seams worn with a trouser embellished with belt ties hanging at the sides and dragging along the ground. There was also a black crushed-velvet gown that was beautifully ruched at the hip and had a neckline that extended up past the chin to hide the face.

Though the collection felt somber, it seems like the 40-year-old brand has a bright future ahead.

Ivan Grundahl, the friend and the designer, is greatly missed. But for those of us lucky to have wardrobes that include many of his designs, he continues to walk tall with us.

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