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Dorothea started an internship in New York at Vice Records, after living in Paris and London respectively, she moved to Copenhagen where she was employed at Cover Magazine for two years working as contributing fashion editor and stylist. She continued to work for Cover writing monthly articles from London, while creating fashion shoots. In London she worked freelance for American V Magazine taking backstage pictures each season in London and Paris. She has covered Copenhagen Fashion Week for Dazed & Confused - Dazed Digital. She has been mentioned on Vogue.com as one from the 'New Generation' and continues to contribute at Vogue.it, also offering show previews from London Fashion Week at style.com. In February 2013 she will release a book by Thames & Hudson about Scandinavian Fashion.'
Scott speaks to Dorothea about broadening our creative footprint, backstage memories and the possibility of achieving career stability by planting her own publication
Styling Dorothea Gundtoft
Hair & Makeup Rikke Dengsø
Model Sara @ Elite Stockholm
- You’re a creative with connections to styling, writing and photography. Do you dissect your time to equally attend to each of these disciplines or is one currently taking precedence?
I don't really plan my time, only by what comes into my life and what I find interesting. You could do any of the three full-time, but I feel that to keep fresh and not do anything overly commercial I try to do the projects that I think are interesting, otherwise I don't feel real. I think the three are very much connected and you need to style, question and have an eye as a fashion editor or in any creative field, therefore the three are interrelated.
On the subject, I spotted a fondness to hallmarking yourself as a ‘freelance fashion writer,’ do you find yourself drawn more toward blending fashion attuned text than manipulating the actual garment?
I do love styling, but often I’m not commercial enough and styling becomes too one dimensional. Plus all the work behind getting the perfect pieces, the time of preparation, and taking it all back can be very overwhelming and sap all my energy. Therefore I try to do less to feel fresh.
When I’m writing I have to connect with people and explore their minds and that inspires all my other work. Photographing is like being an observer as is writing and styling. Though I have always been very fond of working alone and in writing you can completely give in to yourself without having to give space to any opinions of a team.
- ‘Working alone’ seems like a very insular exercise for someone ultimately reporting on that which externally surrounds them?
I'm not ignorant of the influences that surround me, but when it comes to making decisions it can often be difficult to get exactly what you want when it’s a team effort. Occasionally when making decisions it’s nice to just follow your own mind without any outside interference. I’m always surrounding myself with external inspiration.
Do you don a different hat when working under each of the mentioned titles or are the creative boundaries allowed to bleed?
They all slowly become one unit and why stick to one thing if your talent lies within being generally creative. I'm sure that some people find me intimidating, since they can't place me in a box, but I really don't mind because I will always go my own way and I’m not interested in taking anything from someone else. Creation is trying something new.
Denmark, Spain, France and the UK, do these nomadic tendencies cultivate your creative consciousness?
Very much, I need to experience new cultures and be challenged to be able to develop and feel.
Do you have any go-to independent lines when considering a styling brief? Or does each story demand a completely altered approach in line with a fresh concept?
Styling Dorothea Gundtoft
Hair & Makeup Louise Bruun
Model Anna @ 2pm
- I don't follow any rules. Concepts can come from anywhere, and I don't follow any briefs. I create briefs freely with my team.
Our work is often a reliable representation of ourselves. Are you ever conscious of your personal style resonating through that which you place upon the models?
Of course styling is a somewhat personal fantasy and ideology of our inspirations and unconscious mind. But models are different and the style needs to reflect the reason for choosing that specific model for it to work. But again there are no rules, and we often reflect what we have seen or experienced, whether that be real or in a dream.
As with anything, we tend to remember a poorly realised editorial over the more successful (the negative over the positive.) Considering this statement and the previous question, do you ever feel any pressure to impress?
When I do an editorial that I’m fond of, I start thinking about the next one. I don't have time to think about who I have to impress in that one editorial, since there are always new opportunities. I would be nervous if American Vogue asked me to style an editorial, but again I would be at a certain level with a lot of experience and if you get asked to do this they must trust you somehow. There are many things that can go wrong though and I'm more nervous about something happening with the samples than having to impress someone!
- Your backstage snaps almost appear like animated post-it notes in the sense that they document a precise unrehearsed instance. Does the lack of consideration jar with the styling work or are you fond of a rough, spontaneous edge?
I like to capture what is actually happening. I find it much more interesting when a photo is a secret between me and the one in front of the camera. I would like the viewer to have their own story in their mind of what happened before and after the snap. There is too much focus on perfection and posing in fashion!
‘I would like the viewer to have their own story,’ the idea of a self-narrative is certainly very engaging. If you were to pick an image of yours that speaks to you the most, which would it be and what does it say?
It's difficult to just pick one as they all have their own time. I do like the one I took of Vivienne Westwood.
I was sitting backstage at her show taking a break in the only chair available. She came over to me, and I realised it was reserved only for her, so of course I apologised and stood up, but being who she is, she was so sweet to say of course you can sit there, and she sat down on my armchair. After the show she was surrounded by Janet Jackson and Naomi Campbell and whoever else. But I looked at her and her at me, and then she just gazed into the distance with this beautiful poetic stare, like a girl lost in all of the frenzy.
- Vivienne Westwood is quite rightly a national treasure at the cusp of the fashion industry, you'd imagine a speck of ego might have altered this endearing memory. Speaking of epic-achievements, where do you hope your own career will progress?
I have a book about Scandinavian Fashion coming out in February through Thames & Hudson, so I will see where that takes me, but I’m very excited by that! Ideally I would like to start a new magazine or take over one that needs help. Freelance is good freedom but too uncertain and I would like to have a more stable life. Not when it comes to travelling though!
Whilst we're on the topic of career developments, you are a nominee in the Vogue 'Next Generation' fashion photography blog competition. Could you tell us a little more about this?
Yes, Vogue picked the best new fashion photography and has presented it on their website for people to follow their development and work, I was very happy to be amongst the selected, and hope that it helps my work in the long run.
The tyranny of over-consideration: I’d imagine in an industry so over saturated with ideas and options the selection process could be somewhat testing, are you ever plagued with by conflicting concepts?
I think that each person has their own road to follow, and I take it quite relaxed. When you work creatively it’s about feeling and
- being present in the moment, therefore you can't really over analyse, you have to feel what feels right.
‘You have to feel what feels right.’ In terms of the current clothing scene, what feels right, right now?
I like to go to places that bring memories hence the travelling and I choose clothing dependent on the story that goes through my mind. It's a bit like writing or doing a movie. You imagine everything and then you find what you need. I don't follow specific trends, I just find what I like and what brings forward the concept.
Finally, elysium.e: a place or state of perfect bliss. When are you at your happiest?
I'm very happy when I’m with my family in Spain or in our summerhouse in Denmark, or when I'm with my boyfriend, who just happens to be a menswear stylist. We tend to discuss ideas and I can tell him anything, which is very comforting. I'm the happiest in my work when what I have been working very hard to get, happens, and hopefully with success!
I’d like to thank Dorothea for her co-operation with the feature. Here’s wishing her success and happiness for the future.
Dorothea Gundtoft's Online Portfolio