Is Copenhagen Fashion Week’s Smaller, Sweeter, and Slower Vibe Its Upper Hand?

Street style at Copenhagen Fashion Week. Image courtesy of Copenhagen Fashion Week. 

This past week, Copenhagen has played host to the sartorial set as the latest pitstop on the global fashion calendar. Where New York, London, Paris, and Milan can feel overrun with out-of-towners during these seasonal rendez-vous, the Danish capital maintains a remarkable singularity in the thick of it all: meandering cobblestone streets straight from a fairytale; cutting-edge restaurants with enough mythology to inspire big-budget Hollywood films; and a generation of genre-bending designers like Wood Wood, Henrik Vibskov, and Stine Goya that have pushed the industry to seek newer, stranger heights time and again.

Danes have established themselves as arbiters of sleek but joyful design—brands like The Row owe a lot to the Danish capital, and Laila Gohar and her fellow artisanal plateurs pay homage to the locale’s old-world-turned-new style. Copenhagen is doing something right.

Alpha's Fall/Winter 2024 runway. Image courtesy of Alpha. 

This year, that energy can be felt in the city’s streets—where long leather trenches, slouchy knits, and sleek boots are king—in low-key haunts like Apollo Bar—where warm light, local chatter, and beautifully plated dishes of smoked salmon coalesce into a magnetic ambiance—and, of course, on the show calendar, dotted this season with cult favorites like Saks Potts and Baum und Pferdgarten.

More than ever, Copenhagen seems to be the sweetest stop on the calendar, following a heady and momentous Couture week in Paris, where John Galliano delivered an epoch-defining runway show for Maison Margiela. One need only look to Yorgos Lanthimos’s futurist-surrealist epic Poor Things, or French filmmaker Maiwenn’s saucy Jeanne du Barry, about Louis XV’s last mistress, to deduce that the winds are shifting toward the frilly and femme; Marie Antoinette-inspired garments with an edge.

Saks Pott's Fall/Winter 2024 presentation. Image courtesy of Saks Potts.

Even so, “quiet luxury” defined 2023—and the Scandinavians are some of the trend’s most notable progenitors. Perhaps this is why Copenhagen Fashion Week seems buzzier than ever—like a return to the mecca of impeccable tailoring, minimalist design, and luxurious, understated textures. This season has felt more personal than previous seasons: smaller spaces, familiar faces, and a less frenzied schedule than other cities like London or Paris.

Saks Potts, the cool-girl brainchild of local design duo Cathrine Saks and Barbara Potts, held its most intimate show to date in their own storefront, an old Royal Pharmacy that dates back to 1749. “Our aesthetic sets us apart from other fashion capitals,” said Potts, musing at her city’s moment in the spotlight. “We are very focused on our core roots and our hometown. Our collections are always inspired by life in Copenhagen.” The brand’s latest collection featured all the trappings of early-aughts paparazzi shots come to life, with an in-your-face mix of bitchy, low-slung belts; fringe; Robin Hood festival boots; and boho-chic fur jackets.

Aeron's Fall/Winter 2024 runway. Image courtesy of Aeron.

The city’s coquettish spirit is drawing designers from elsewhere in Europe, too: Eszter Áron, designer of Budapest-based Aeron, collaborated with Hungarian artist Sári Ember to create hand-painted ceramic pieces that models carried down the runway, wearing structured blazers and layers of mohair and cashmere. In a true nod to low-key luxury, Áron noted that she took inspiration from her “lifelong passion for the graceful dressing of elderly women.” 

We’ve come to a moment in culture—certainly in food, in fashion—where everything is dressed. The art of adorning a table, the bounty of bowcore, the frenzy of frills bursting from runways and film screens—all of this seems to be rooted in the Scandinavian spirit. For those curious to know what’s next, look north.