Cult Danish Designer Cecilie Bahnsen Reveals the Androgynous Garment That Inspired Her Latest Collection

Portrait by Josephine Seifert. All images courtesy of Cecilie Bahnsen.

For Danish designer Cecilie Bahnsen, femininity is ever-evolving. Tasked with dressing the modern woman, Bahnsen creates garments that speak to both girlhood whimsy and adult practicality, an enchanting combination for both longtime followers of the brand and new acolytes alike.

After nearly a decade of leading her eponymous label, the Erdem and John Galliano alum notes how “tough” the fashion world can be for an independent brand. Her staying power, however, was on full display in her Autumn/Winter 2024 runway show, where the designer breathed new life into an array of deadstock fabrics. Entitled “The Bite,” the collection aspired to diaphanous juxtaposition, reveling in the contrasts of darker tones and her signature whimsy. Chunky knits met ruched bubble dresses. Functional galoshes were outfitted with shiny black flower appliqués. Denim separates made their way into the Cecilie Bahnsen design language, imagined in both chic jackets and the funky dresses the designer is known for. Neither showmanship nor craft was sacrificed using the upcycled materials; the feat broke the industry cycle of creating waste and challenged other designers to follow suit. 

While devotees of the brand await the collection's drop this summer, Cecilie Bahnsen tells CULTURED about its conception, her collaboration with photographer Casper Serjensen, and how her mother’s night shirts remains a source of inspiration.

Cecile Bahnsen's Autumn/Winter 2024 runway.

CULTURED: Who taught you how to dress?

Cecilie Bahnsen: My mother. She was a model when she was younger and has the best wardrobe. One of the first things I remember her putting my sister and me in were beautiful night shirts: They became a big inspiration for my very first collection and are something I revisited for our Autumn/Winter 2024 collection. I have always loved the mix of masculine and feminine with these shirts. 

CULTURED: You cut your teeth at John Galliano, the Royal College of Art, and Erdem. How do the lessons you learned at these institutions continue to surprise you?

Bahnsen: Throughout the early years of my career with both John Galliano and Erdem, I developed a passion for craftsmanship and the understanding that it takes dedication to create something special. I continue to draw on these lessons today. Working with Galliano also allowed me to experience the more couture and luxury side of Paris, and working with Erdem enabled me to stay in London—one of my favorite cities—following my education at the Royal College of Art. 

CULTURED: You founded your eponymous brand almost 10 years ago. How have you seen your audience evolve over the years?

Bahnsen: With the latest collection, we see that the audience is maturing alongside the brand. I still aim to speak to many different kinds of femininity, women, and moods. It's always so inspiring to see our global audience and reach evolving, too. 

Cecile Bahnsen's Autumn/Winter 2024 runway.

CULTURED: How do you feel post-Autumn/Winter 2024 show? How did you celebrate?

Bahnsen: The show is a very special moment both for me and my team. It’s the culmination of months of hard work. The evening and days following that show are cherished, and we love to celebrate together. We're a family; many of us have worked together for years, so it's always a proud moment. We often go for fun dinners and dance and laugh a lot.

CULTURED: The show, dubbed "The Bite," featured a collaboration with Danish photographer Casper Sejersen. How did you first encounter his work, and how did you arrive at the apple motif that found its way onto the runway?

Bahnsen: I’ve followed Casper’s work throughout my career. We were both really excited to work together creatively. Casper suggested a concept for my show centered around an apple, which immediately resonated. For me, an apple represents desire, love, strength, beauty. But there is also an ordinariness to it. I am drawn to this juxtaposition of high and low, the clash between luxury and everyday. I am often drawn towards unexpected combinations.

Cecile Bahnsen's Autumn/Winter 2024 runway.

CULTURED: Beyond your conversations with Sejersen, what were you surrounding yourself with during the conception of the collection?

Bahnsen: This season, we really focused on reinventing leftover fabrics. We surrounded ourselves with deadstock fabrics from Nona Source and really challenged ourselves to breathe new life into these fabrics through embroidery, textures, and ruffles. We're also extending our categories with lots of beautiful separates—tops, skirts, more denim—that are reinterpreted to work in our universe. 

CULTURED: What does the fashion world need more and less of in 2024?

Bahnsen: Less speed and more time for creating meaningfully and consciously.