Digital Covers

Digital Cover: Mad about Matilda Djerf

By Clare McInerney

Photo: Sara Bille

Why is the world so mad about Matilda Djerf? Often dubbed the 'Brigitte Bardot of the Nordics', Djerf is a social media sensation and successful entrepreneur – with a head of hair so iconic, followers flock from around the world to the stylist responsible in her small hometown of Borås. Now, captured in the Stockholm archipelago as you've never seen her before, Djerf opens up about vulnerability, "safe spaces", and her own take on the fascination that drives her digital empire and insatiable online following

Matilda Djerf is perched on a chair in a whitewashed wood-panelled house outside Stockholm, her face bathed in morning light, her hair – that golden mane, pictures of which have been shown with hopeful optimism to countless hairdressers across the globe – being deftly sectioned, spritzed, and bound in big rollers. From time to time, she picks up her iPhone and taps at lightning fast speed, masterfully coordinating her team of 40 from afar, before setting it down and serenely closing her eyes.


The 26-year-old entrepreneur, content creator and brand founder, who is adoringly labelled an ‘ultimate dream girl’, ‘wholesome queen’ and ‘CEO of curtain bangs’ by her scores of online followers, is in the midst of transforming into a new persona for Vogue Scandinavia: a vision plucked directly from an idyllic ‘70s mood board with a Swedish archipelago setting. Djerf’s signature buoyant blow-out is getting the 'va-va-voom' treatment to become a Farrah Fawcett-style feathery blonde halo, her brows bleached so light, they’re almost imperceptible. Stepping into this role for a day, Djerf is radiant in vintage prints, wide bell-bottoms and Levi's denim, lacy crochet and shearling trims, all nodding to a bygone era. “Oh my god, I look like my mother!” she gushes, upon seeing some of the first image proofs.

Brushed printed coat, €9,000, Brushed printed scarf. Both Stella McCartney. Suede boots. Loewe. Photo: Sara Bille

In the weeks following her Vogue cover shoot, we meet at the inner-city headquarters of Djerf Avenue, her own non-seasonal, ready-to-wear brand. Dressed in a navy knit, white denim and Chanel slingbacks, she greets me with a warm and assured two-handed handshake. In place of the eruption of loose ‘70s curls is a slicked-back bun (“when I work, I need my hair to be completely out of my face,” she notes), while her brows have been dyed back to their natural brunette state. Overlooking Stockholm’s Humlegården, the expansive interior of her office is rendered in calming neutral tones, discerningly decorated with fresh white hydrangeas and Gustaf Westman pieces. It’s effortlessly elegant and entirely welcoming – like a physical extension of Djerf herself.

Launched almost four years ago, Djerf describes the brand that she has built as “a safe space” – a term that she comes back to repeatedly throughout the course of our conversation. “It’s such an obvious thing for me” she says of the inclusive and realistic way that Djerf Avenue presents its wares – on diverse models free of airbrushing, while the garments are shot exactly as they appear when worn, wrinkles inclusive. “I just want our customers to feel, when they go on our website or social media, like ‘this makes me feel good’,” she says. “I don’t ever want to make anyone ever feel anything else than good.”

Knitted dress, €265. Lovechild 1979. Sunglasses, €397. Tom Ford. . Photo: Sara Bille

Photo: Sara Bille

Now, with Djerf Avenue’s turnover and team growing exponentially, maintaining a delivery of 10 mindfully-curated drops a year, and the millions of her followers hungry to invest in pieces that help them to emulate – or simply have access to – Djerf’s Pinterest-friendly world, it’s safe to say that she is leading not just a brand, but an entire empire. Yet, her demeanour remains forever down-to-earth. “Half the time, I’m like ‘what am I doing?’ and then the other half of the time, I’m like ‘I know exactly what I’m doing',” she says with a smile. Djerf does admit, however, that she is a consistently good decision maker. “My life is basically just making decisions, every single minute of the day,” she shares. “People come to me with options, and I immediately know. I always just know.”

Half the time, I’m like ‘what am I doing?’ and then the other half of the time, I’m like ‘I know exactly what I’m doing'

Matilda Djerf

The brand is Matilda Djerf through and through: it takes her name, encapsulates her style, and is staffed by some of her nearest and dearest, including her boyfriend Rasmus Johansson. Djerf’s long-term partner, Johansson is co-founder and CEO of Djerf Avenue, making for an intersection of personal and professional life which is not for the faint of heart. But the two complement each other in the workplace as much as they do in love. "He’s always been the one to calm me down," Djerf says of Johansson. "We balance each other and we just know that this period in our life needs to be a lot of work."

Johansson's top position doesn’t stop him from being regularly mixed up with Djerf’s beloved four-legged sidekick, another duo-syllabic name starting with ‘R’: Rufus. (An instance in which Djerf tried to notify her followers that Rasmus had lost his front teeth was particularly confusing). “It’s all the time. Like, all the time,” Djerf laughs about her interchangeable boyfriend and dog. “For me, they have a joint name, ‘Rufsmus’,” so when I need them both, I’m like, ‘Rufsmus, come here!’”

Knitted dress with belt. Saks Potts. Knitted leg warmers, €41, Socks, €23. Both Swedish Stockings. Vintage clogs, €23. Beyond Retro. Photo: Sara Bille

No one can deny that Djerf Avenue’s success comes down to, well, Djerf, and the chokehold that her Scandinavian appeal has on the internet, with millions following her every move. But what is the fascination all about? Why is the world so mad about Matilda Djerf? “I don’t know the answer,” Djerf responds, shaking her head. “I wish I knew, because that’s like the secret sauce,” she adds. “I’m just me. I’m just Matilda, a small girl from a small town.”

I’m just me. I’m just Matilda, a small girl from a small town

Matilda Djerf

Her response is a glimpse of that honest and earnest authenticity that Djerf lovingly fosters for her followers which, when packaged up with her covetable hair and her aspirational yet attainable style, seems to be a potential answer to her enduring appeal. Over the years, Djerf has let her followers into her most painful and vulnerable moments, from migraines and mental health hurdles, to harder medical moments – such as the potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancy she suffered several years ago. “Once I had gone through the most difficult parts of it,” Djerf says of sharing the very personal pregnancy experience on social media, “I wanted to put it out there. I want to share the difficult parts of my life because that’s what life is – ups and downs,” she says.

Printed jersey shirt dress, €2,125. Proenza Schouler. High-rise wide-leg denim, €990. Chloé. Crochet wool scarf, €164. By Malene Birger. Leather belt, €220. By Far. High leather boots, €1,690. Isabel Marant. Photo: Sara Bille

Photo: Sara Bille

Deciding whether or not to share her intimately personal moments, Djerf says it simply comes down to asking ‘does it feel right for me in that moment?’ Does Djerf regret anything that she's ever shared? Her answer is a vehement "no". “There are so many instances that people have told me, especially with the ectopic pregnancy, that ‘it’s thanks to you that I now know what this is, and thanks to you I actually went to the hospital’,” Djerf recounts. “So, I always say, if I can help one person by sharing the pain that I’ve gone through, that’s worth it for me. I want to be the person that I needed when I went through my own eating disorders and self harm and anxiety,” she says.

T-shirt, €38, Denim shorts, €66. Both Levi’s. Leather belt, €220. By Far. 18k white gold ring. Cartier. Faux fur boots, €355. Stand Studio.

Djerf fosters her relationship with her online community in offline ways as well, holding events and pop-ups – at the time of our conversation she’s gearing up for the next date in New York – which give the self-proclaimed ‘Djerf Angels’ the chance to meet their idol in-person. Djerf describes meeting the sometimes fanatical followers as nothing short of surreal.

I want to be the person that I needed

Matilda Djerf

“Most of the things that have happened to me, or are happening, I can't really grasp. It's like being on the outside looking in, but it's very special to me,” she remarks. Grappling with the fact that she has become the Scandinavian style and beauty blueprint for so many, Djerf modestly turns to the notion that imitation is the highest form of flattery, commenting “a big part of my job is to inspire people. So, if I inspire them to wear an outfit or style their hair in a way that’s similar to mine, it’s part of the job. It’s surreal but I’m obviously grateful,” she says.

Knitted sweater, €399. Lovechild 1979. Gold necklace, €1,184. Pantolin. Photo: Sara Bille

Floral suit jacket, €1,445. Dries Van Noten. Vintage printed shirt, €23. Beyond Retro. Crochet swimsuit, €302, Fishnet crochet skirt, €431. Both Linda Dekhla. Chain necklace, €892, Triangle steering earrings, €409. Both Bottega Veneta. 18k white gold ring. Cartier. . Photo: Sara Bille

Back to the hair: the cut and colour that has a hypnotic effect on the masses – so much so that women have flown in from as far as the United States for bookings with her hair stylist, who is based in Djerf’s hometown of Borås. “Hair for me has always been a form of expression,” Djerf explains, “I love being able to try different things with curls, blow-outs, up-dos. Sometimes I think it would be nice to do a little bob and not have long hair – because my hair is so thick and I get hot.”

But before sending the internet into a meltdown, Djerf quickly clarifies she is sticking with her look for now. “This cut and colour, I feel like this is really me. It’s partly because when I was a kid, I had this colour,” she says, explaining how her light hair had become darker with age. “So when I look back at photos of when I was small, I had this blonde colour. It’s almost like leaning into that, which feels really safe to me.”

Knitted vest, €100. Djerf Avenue. Lace dress, €1790. Chloé. Waist belt, €137. Nanna Selén. Faux fur boots, €355. Stand Studio. . Photo: Sara Bille

It may sound like Djerf often veers towards playing it safe, but that’s not quite it. It’s more about feeling safe in her decisions and surroundings – and making sure others do too. “Again, it comes back to the words ‘safe space’,” she tells me. “I know what makes me feel good nowadays. I value myself and I value my energy. So I don’t ever want to be in a space where I don’t feel comfortable.”

Take, for instance, her choice to not be involved in certain aspects of fashion and influencer culture, like the fashion week circuit. “What that looks like right now, it’s just not safe for me. I’ve never attended fashion week, but my experience with some events, it hasn’t really felt good. I only have ‘X’ amount of hours in the day, so I want to make sure I spend those hours doing things that bring value to me,” Djerf explains.

Leather jacket, €902. Stand Studio. Crocheted top, €250. Anna Kosturova via Mytheresa. T-shirt, worn underneath, €390. MM6 Maison Margiela. Crochet skirt, €431. Linda Dekhla. Necklace, €82. Nanna Selén. . Photo: Sara Bille

White maxi skirt, €3,350. Louis Vuitton. Photo: Sara Bille

Another safe space for Djerf is undeniably nature, where she often retreats to seek “a sense of peace”. The location of the Vogue Scandinavia shoot is modelled on her own home in the archipelago surrounding Gothenburg – a space heavily documented by Djerf on social media where, just this summer, she spent an idyllic five weeks. “It just calms my mind and soul. It makes me realise how big the world is and how tiny I am, and how tiny my problems are” Djerf says of being at her summer house amongst nature. “Even now in Stockholm, I have a park and water outside my apartment, I need it,” she goes on. “I wouldn’t be able to live in the city centre with just concrete around me. My heart couldn’t handle that.”

I wouldn’t be able to live in the city centre with just concrete around me. My heart couldn’t handle that

Matilda Djerf

It’s clear that Djerf is led by her heart, in everything from her decision making, her boundary setting, and in the way she relates to others – whether a close loved one or a TikTok follower. And she wears her heart on her sleeve, quite literally, with an array of delicate line tattoos – visible in some of the ‘70s-inspired ensembles she wears in our cover shoot. There’s the literal heart on her forearm, drawn by Johansson during a trip to Bali in 2016 (he shares the same on his arm, as drawn by Djerf).

There’s a small symbol of an ocean wave tucked away on her ribcage, which she shares with her family members (“it’s a special relationship that we have and I’m so grateful for it”), the eight-pointed sun motif on her wrist that she shares with her best friends (it’s now become a common motif in some of her jewellery designs), and ‘wild child’ spelled out across her upper arm (“I got this one when I was 17. I love it, but it has no meaning. As a teenager I was wild, I just felt like a wild child,” Djerf explains with a sheepish chuckle).

Striped woven sweater, €410. Séfr. Faux leather dress, €1,290. Stella McCartney. Faux fur boots, €355. Stand Studio. Photo: Sara Bille

Lastly, we land on the cherub-shaped tattoo by her elbow: a winged figure resting on a cloud. “This is the most recent one that I have. It’s an angel, because my community always calls themselves that, ‘angels’. The Djerf Avenue angels,” she says. “So this is just a little reminder to myself – whenever I feel lonely or asking myself, ‘what am I doing?’ – that I’m helping people, I’m reaching out to people, and I have these really meaningful connections. I have this amazing community.”

Matilda wears Levi's
Photographer: Sara Bille
Words: Clare McInerney
Stylist: Sara Jeminen
Talent: Matilda Djerf
Hair Stylist: Philip Fohlin using Kèrastase
Makeup Artist: Josefina Zarmén
Photographer Assistants: Niklas Marklund, Nigel Perry
Stylist Assistants: Ebba Martin, Emma Glennow
Production: Linkdetails