Oslo vs. NYC: which suits you better?
The first time I came to New York, I felt my soul come to life. Norway has its own special way of dragging you down, while New York does the complete opposite. So whenever I lack energy and inspiration, New York is always there to lift me up. It represents everything I stand for now and missed growing up in Norway, but that is where I have my history and friends from way back. I guess I feel home both places. New York City will always be my home. I was born in Queens. In spirit, I would say I’m closer to Paris. I would like to live there one day.
How do you choose which idea to focus on?
I just know. I have to feel it and when I do I put my emotions and soul into my work and it becomes real. I have a very strong gut feeling about things. By keeping it real, even in this so called superficial world, there’s no problem multitasking any number projects. But I’m just a human being and sometimes I just say no if it’s too much too handle. Although my work has become my lifestyle, I don’t sacrifice work for my personal life.
Which of your projects are you most proud of?
Oh, they all have their own different stories, challenges and struggles. Remember, I am from a small fishing community in Norway, so come to the point that I could work with big names and order couture from Paris to my humble flat in Manhattan… This is insane. Also to style for Vogue was for me something I almost never dared to dream about. Except that I did dream about it and dreams do come true! I styled Riccardo Tisci and Marina Abramovic for Vogue Homme and I remember was very nervous and sooooo glad I got the chance to do it.
What drives you?
Marina Abramovic recently told me she loved that I pushed her limits, and that’s what I do and love. I always loved creating visual stories since I was a child, even if it was me dressing up or re-designing my room, which I did ALL the time. I evolve and adapt to new things very easily. Sometimes that can be frustrating in work, because people don’t always follow my way of thinking, but in a year or two years time they understand. Creating a visual world that inspires people in every direction, good or bad… Pushing those limits is almost like my mission in life.
What can throw you off course?
I get surprised every time I meet people that see things only from one perspective, refusing to open up and get the full perspective of things. Talking to a wall throws me off. For example the new antigay laws in Russia. I don’t get that they don’t get that it is just so obviously wrong. It’s so frustrating to engage with people that don’t have any respect for others, people that won’t listen. I can’t stand it when people have hate for each other and judge others based on looks, color, race, sexuality or whatever that doesn’t harm anyone else.
How do you cope with harsh realities and challenges of the fashion industry?
Well, I love the people, at least the people I work with. There’s not that much shallowness in my life. I created an environment that consists of nice and talented people. The biggest challenge is the economy which is totally fucked up and out of balance. The market is overcrowded. Since there’s too many photographers, makeup artists, stylists, hair stylists, magazines etc. etc. you can get people for free all the time. Many creative professionals are struggling to get food on the table. I’ve been one of them. Luckily I created my own special path to success and I feel truly blessed being able to live off my creativity. I don’t take that for granted!
Do you think sense of style/taste is inborn or can be cultivated?
I think a lot of it is inborn, but we have the ability to learn. Dressing up is a way of socializing and we have learned how to do so. But for some it is mechanical and they need the technical terms to make it happen, but for others it’s in their veins. They feel it and that’s when it’s inborn.
Whose style today would you label as impeccable?
I adore Daphne Guinness. I think she is phenomenal in every sense of that word. Phenomenal, phenomenal, phenomenal. I get so inspired by her because she brings elegance and chicness into a very cold and dark yet romantic world which I love. I love the contrasts between all the layers in between just being a pretty face and taking it to another level. She fills all the steps on the ladder between the underworld and the upper world.
Beyond fashion, what else would you want to try?
For a full perspective I need to link all my creative processes together on different levels. I have different projects coming up. I’m starting a new TV show this fall and I have a book planned and some art movies with my own music in it.
Could there be a biopic about your life?
If ever, it should be a comedy called “Strike a Pose”. I love everything fashionable, but I don’t take myself too seriously. So it’s a perfect mix between the seriousness of the biz and the non-serious aspects of my life.
Every man’s wardrobe absolutely must include….
Besides clean underwear, and the standard stuff, I always get surprised when a man takes out a pair of high heels from his closet! That’s just not very expected, and although you don’t wear them yourself, it’s great for entertaining