The Swedish Designer On Making Business Personal With New Line BLK DNM
Johan Lindeberg sees BLK DNM as a respite from what he calls “the fashion routine”: “I didn’t have the energy to create a runway collection based on ‘themes,’” the designer confides. Instead, Lindeberg built a contemporary but timeless range of separates modeled on his own personal aesthetic, and commissioned Danish filmmaker Martin de Thurah to highlight selections from the New York City–inspired collection in today’s lyrical, shapeshifting film. We spoke to Lindeberg about his fresh approach on the occasion of his new line’s launch.
Why did you want to present this collection with the film?
When I started BLK DNM I wanted to break the pattern. I felt that creating a film was a much richer creative process than doing a show. When you develop a brand organically from scratch you want to add content that makes up the larger culture for the clothes to live in. You want clothes to feel like a natural extension and reflection of the culture and the time––the architecture, the lifestyle, the emotions, the conversations.
Your line is modeled on
your own look. Have you always been your own guinea pig?
I learned during the years to be myself. For menswear I only do exactly what I want to wear myself. I like a simple look: jeans or tailored pants. No chinos. A leather jacket, a coat or a blazer. A scooped oversized T-shirt. And I like the chic twist of a silk scarf. For womenswear I only do things I love to see on the women that are close to me. I like strong, powerful women: a bit tomboy but feminine.
What was it about Martin de Thurah's style that appealed to you?
There is a deep Scandinavian root in his directing style that I always loved. His work also feels very real—you get so close to humanity. I love the way he shoots close-ups on hands, faces, etc. It makes it almost exhausting to watch, but at the same time there is a real optimism and strength. You connect with the story.
How did your collaboration come to fruition?
I sent him an email, as I loved the video for Fever Ray's “When I Grow Up.” He answered immediately. The next week we spent six hours in Martin’s kitchen in Copenhagen and we couldn’t stop talking. He really understood what I wanted to create. It made me happy when he told me, “Johan, I think it’s the best thing I have done.”
There is a modern mythic quality to the film. What was the inspiration behind the story?
I wanted to do a film about relationships; it’s hard to find a balanced relationship today. In particular, living in New York, where everyone is having trouble committing due to all the options you have all the time. It is a challenge to follow your individual vision and at the same time create strong synergies with a partner.
People in the public eye are often hesitant to discuss their private lives. What prompted you to make things personal?
I like bringing this type of personal honesty and emotional depth to what I do. I think we’ve reached a time when people want that kind of honest relationship with designers. We already know so much about each other’s lives through the media. I see no point in participating in any charade, but rather embracing and channeling the personal and cultural all at once to create something with emotional depth.