In just a few brief years, Danish designer Malene Oddershede Bach has made her way into the London Fashion scene spotlight. Having earned herself a coveted place in Fashion Scout’s One to Watch London showcase back in 2011, Bach’s talents have been steadily gaining global recognition ever since.
An admitted math nerd, Bach’s intelligent prints are similar in nature to the late abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky’s geometric forms. Prints such as a vibrant neon speckled pattern seen in the designer’s Autumn/Winter 2013 collection, are a highlight of the her ready-to-wear women’s line.
Bach’s penchant for structured tailoring excites in its Spring/Summer 2013 form, bolstered by bright colour palette, while the fancy takes on modern trend when paired with flowing feminine fabrics for Autumn/Winter 2013
Aside from a sleek new collection of separates that pop in cobalt blue and bold reds, the Autumn season will also usher in a new phase in Bach’s career. The designer is moving into accessories, and from what we’ve seen of MOB by Malene Oddershede Bach, the line will receive a glowing reception from the fashion industry and shoppers alike. We’re already pining over the new collection’s leather handbags with metalware detailing!
Hot on international style radars, we tracked down Bach to get her thoughts on the speed of her rising star, and what direction she sees it heading in.
Let’s start from the beginning, tell me a bit about your background?
I was born in Denmark and brought up on a farm. I lived a fairly isolated life, spending my spare time playing football and horse riding. At 19, after finishing school I decided to move to London for 6 months, as I was unsure as to what to study. Needless to say, months turned into years after falling in love with London, and later realizing I wanted to pursue a career in the creatives.
So fashion became a part of your life when you moved to London, or did your passion for it actually begin before you officially began to pursue it as a career?
I’m from the outskirts of a small town with only a few shops, so to prevent turning up in the same outfit as my friends, I early on starting rummaging around in the charity shops my Gran ran, to come up with more creative ways around that. When I played football, I was always known as the girl with the fishnet or teacher bag as my handbag.
With such a natural knack for fashion, you never considered it as a career when you were younger?
I never thought about fashion as a career when I was a child. I had never met anyone going down that path being from a small town. I did lots if sewing when I was younger, but it wasn’t until after moving to London that it clicked.
Yes it certainly has clicked! In just a few short years, you’ve really developed your clothing line, and now you’re moving into accessories, no?
It’s been really good so far, and for AW13 we’re launching our accessory line MOB by Malene Oddershede Bach, focused mainly around handbags. We tested some simple printed clutch bags the season before, but have always wanted to go down the route of accompanying the RTW collection with a proper handbag line. I am a bit of a perfectionist and don’t like to do anything halfhearted, so the bags were a natural route to go down, and we’ve received a great response for the first collection. It will be a line we’re looking to develop further for seasons to come.
And there are shoes as well I understand?
We did a shoe collaboration with Gold Dot (Solestruck and Karmaloop US) creating shoes for the collection. We have done shoes for a couple of seasons now, and it is something we would love to develop, but still working in finding the right factories at the right quality and prices.
In terms of your greater design aesthetic, do your Danish roots find their way into your fashion vision?
I am sure they do one way or another, but it’s a little hard for me to point out exactly how. Having grown up on a farm, I am a big fan of nature and this is often a starting point for the prints in the collection. Recently they have however taken a slight more scientific route as we have collaborated with professors and scientists at the UCL developing, growing and photographing cells, of which the result we have manipulated in to the final designs.
Makes sense that your prints read so intellectual. So you’re into science then I take it?
Had I not found fashion, I would most likely have studied Maths; I like the scientific work behind it, and that it is not just a picture of some flower that I copied off some book.
As so many other people do, ha. Why have your chosen London as your home base?
I made London my home before starting doing fashion. I fell in love with it on my first visit (family holiday), and for me moving back to Denmark would be like moving to any other country to base my business, as I would not know my whereabouts within the industry like I do in London.
It’s a vibrant city, full of creativity.
I find the feeling of always having the option of going to a gig, exhibition or any other happening very attractive, even though I rarely have the time to make use of it.
Though you say you don’t get a chance to go out much, what would you say is your biggest influence outside of fashion?
Nature, science, and different techniques used to develop arts and crafts. I like objects/matters that have evolved from processes that might not be possible to the human eye.
And how does that relate to your latest collection, what your inspiration this season?
The print for AW13 was created via a collaboration with a professor at the UCL. The print is normally the starting point and the rest of the fabrics and collection itself then evolves around this. I looked into a lot of techniques and cuts that were used in the past by looking at vintage/second hand clothes, and took bits and pieces, and then made it my own.
Do you often look to the past when seeking inspiration?
I am a strong believer that everything has been done before, and it is more of a matter of doing a garment in a new way. Standard shirt with a cut out at the chest for example.
If you could pick anyone (dead or alive) to wear a piece from your collections, who would it be and which piece would you have them wear?
My mother. She is a very difficult customer. However, season upon season she is getting more and more in to it and has actually ordered both shirts and handbags from the collections. Even my grandmother wants one of the bags. That’s something I thought would never happen, but am over the moon that I have succeeded in creating something that can be used outside our standard target audience, reaching women of all ages.
That’s a feat! Any designers out there that have inspired you?
I don’t gain inspiration from other designers work. I think it is important to know what is going on around you, but still important to leave your design process as organic as possible without any influences from specific designers. I would hate if my designs looks like another designer, and this is something I’m very conscious about throughout the design process.
I can tell from the distinct style of your designs. Speaking of which, can you talk a bit about your take on the suit?
Our suits started out as a printed suits, however we are now doing both plain and printed suits based on the same cut. The printed suits from AW has proven very popular. It’s a fitted tailored pant with signature press fold down the front and back of the leg with a generous sized blazer that allows for movement and jumpers to be worn alongside it. All made in a printed silk mix finished with a reflective finish, which is the shine.
Love that piece, it’s versatile.
I find it that a printed suit can be a massive statement piece, but also split down and styled with say plain trousers.
Final question: what’s something we can look forward to from Malene Oddershede Bach?
Hopefully there will be a show on the cards for SS14. Apart from that, further development on the bags and perhaps even a new print technique that will take the prints down a slightly different route!Published March 29, 2013