Friday was the first day of shows and offered a variety of very different designers. The first show of the day was Mundi who showed his collection in the foreboding lower level hall of the otherwise bright and welcoming Harpa concert venue. The show evoked a post-apocalyptic Iceland that was cold, dark, and raw. A horse that was supposed to be featured in the show was unfortunately injured in a car accident on the way there. Despite this, Mundi's set design, background video, props and, of course, collection all combined to create a dramatic show, and it was a great opening to the festival.
The next show -- Hildur Yeomen -- couldn't have been more different. This collection presented candy-colored frocks in a fashion show that felt like a Vegas extravaganza. Icelandic pop star Daniel Agust, of Gus Gus, appeared on stage and sang a guilty-pleasure rendition of Olivia Newton-John's classic "Xanadu." Models grooved around the stage in the designer's clothing while dancers from the Icelandic Dance Company performed an acrobatic routine while a young man glided across the room in roller skates. The show was festive and fun and the audience walked away in an upbeat mood with Xanadu stuck in their heads for the rest of the day.
Festival guests then took a break for dinner at Kexid (or "Cracker"), a gritty cool venue with great beer and wine choices and delicious food, including a grilled salmon dish to die for. The venue overlooks Reykjavik's bay, which had filled with mist and provided a spectacular view of the stunning Esja Mountain in the background.
After dinner, guests headed back to the concert hall for more shows. The final show of the night was probably my favorite designer of the weekend: Kormakur and Skjoldur. Kormakur and Skjoldur originally started as a gentlemen's club and not a clothing line, but it has developed a cult following in Iceland for its beautiful tailored line of classic menswear with Icelandic flare. Think Gangs Of New York meets Viking. Well-known Icelandic personalities walked the show, including a member of Gus Gus. The gentlemen walking the show had all grown out their beards for a month prior and it felt like we were taken back in time.
Saturday started with panel discussions. I spoke about the Business of Fashion with fellow panelists: investor Pauline Brown and Nikita, the co-founder of Runar. The discussion focused on the challenges of launching a brand in Iceland and we brainstormed potential solutions for young Icelandic designers looking to grow their businesses internationally.
In the afternoon, I snuck away from the fashion festivities to attend the final round of "Musiktilraunir," an annual "battle of the bands" competition. My son Gunnar's band, Icarus, had made the finals and our whole crew rallied behind the event. Icarus plays instrumental progressive rock and their set was stunning. Beyond Icarus, I was so impressed with the quality of music coming out of the young Icelandic music talent who took the stage.
After a quick congratulatory hug and a kiss for Gunnar, we dashed off to make it to our very own Moda Operandi party at Hotel Borg, which we co-hosted with Reykjavik Fashion Festival. Other hosts included Godfrey Deeny from Fashion Wire Daily, Icelandic pop star Ragnhildur Gisladottir, stylist Edda Gudmundsdottir and artistic director of the Icelandic Dance Company Katrin Hall. The guests sipped cocktails and nibbled on luscious appetizers while warming up to the fun tunes provided by New York DJ Gabriel Levy. The group included well known personalities from the Icelandic music and art scene, as well as, of course, many local fashion designers. After cocktails, guests headed back to Harpan for the final shows. The last show of the evening, Rey, was a beautiful collection of chic easy to wear pieces. I particularly loved the casual black riding-style pants which Rey's designer Rebekka wore at the after-party.
Speaking of after-parties, the after-after-party was at Boston, Sigga's uber-cool bar in Reykjavik, where everybody got down to an awesome set provided by Gabriel Levy. Dancing went on till the wee hours of the night, and it was the perfect end to a fun eventful week.