INTERVIEW: Danish Fashion Designer Susane Rutzou
Sven Eselgroth is travelling around Scandinavia, photographing and speaking to some of the most influential figures in the fashion scene. In this installment, he interviews one of Denmark’s most innovative designers Susanne Rutzou and throws in a photoshoot for good measure!
The start of my career in fashion design was very good timing. It was sort of a defining period in the history of Danish fashion, because, at the time, there wasn’t really a fashion scene as such. There were just a few big high street or main stream fashion companies. I started Bruuns Bazaar with the two owners, who had been friends of mine since we were teenagers. It was fun to build it up, and I was there for the first six years.
I left in 1999. It seemed the only thing I could do – I’d been working hard as hell, and I think they hired five designers when I left, to cover. After a certain amount of time, we’d realized that we didn’t necessarily have the same visions. We were, I think, the first Danish brand on the official showlist in Paris, and it just seemed to be a good time for me to move on after that achievement. I had clients calling me, urging me to start something, which is quite a privilege really.
Design has always been the major part of the process for me. I’ve tried to hand over that responsibility in the past in order to take care of the business side of things, but I went back to it because I just missed it too much. It was hard to find somebody who was in sync with the creative expression of the brand. What I do is quite personal, and it’s just really difficult to find a person who has the same ideas or understanding.
To prepare for a show, I normally work with a stylist whom I know very well and whom I trust. I’ve realized that it’s very good to have a dialogue, especially when the samples come home and we have to do a show. It’s very healthy to be able to hear her opinion. She comes up with a vision, and we spend about a week on it. We do the show, but then the next day it’s “so yesterday”. That’s the hard part. It’s a challenge for my mentality. I’ve never really had a bad review, but there are always people who prefer something else. What I’m more nervous about is how the collection sells.
When it comes to inspiration, I like art. I don’t really have a favourite artist as such…well I do, but I don’t. I don’t really have a favourite anything, because I like to clear my mind and see things differently, but I do like artists like Olafur Eliasson, another Scandinavian, then there are others like Anish Kapoor. I love that feeling, to be able to walk into an exhibition and just be absorbed by the art I see. I very much prefer the inspiration I get from something that gives me a feeling or an abstract idea which leads me to something completely different. Another element that inspires me is travel. My mother took me everywhere when I was young, and I was taught all the qualities of travelling, of acknowledging different cultures. I learned how to intuitively understand different ways of living, and about the beauty of things that are very different, but I was still taught to see how similar we are, no matter the wrapping or the location.
Most recently, though, I’ve been inspired by the story of Elvira Madigan and Sixten Sparre, and their romance that ended in tragedy. I wouldn’t say I’m a romantic person – not in a traditional sense. I am actually quite cynical in many ways. The type of romance I focus on in this collection is nothing to do with ruffles and girlishness; I want to emphasize the bigger emotions and inspire people to be more impulsive and allow themselves to be led more by their intuition.
By Sven Eselgroth