Danish designer Emilie Helmstedt’s AW23 collection is a celebration of flora and fauna, creepy crawlies and ocean creatures
There is really no place better suited for a Helmstedt show than Denmark’s Natural History Museum. After all, Emilie Helmstedt’s well-defined aesthetic revels in the majesty of nature – flora and fauna, creepy crawlies and ocean creatures. When I ask Helmstedt what the starting point was for autumn/winter 2023 is, she responds, emphatically: “The space!” Still, it wouldn’t be a Helmstedt show if she simply let the location – spectacular as it is – speak for itself. This time around, rather than the usual paper mâché decor, the designer and her team fashioned the decor, including the dangling fabric disco ball overhead, from deadstock fabric.
This is a season of firsts for the Danish designer. For one, she’s eschewed her recognisable palette of pastels for something a little bit darker. “We challenged ourselves to stay more true to season in terms of – for instance – going away from pastel blue and using dark blue and dark brown,” Helmstedt says. There’s still the painterly prints – this time starring aliens and spaceships – but the impact is subtler. But the main event is not the shift in colour but an entirely new category: occasion wear.
Out marches a parade of gowns and cocktail dresses – silk with ruffled sleeves, quilted with exploding hems. At last, the Helmstedt obsessive has a gala option. “I think going out connecting with people and showing off is just what we need right now,” Helmsted says. “Making people feel like shining stars in the universe.”
But why stop there? Also new this season is denim, hand-dyed in an explosion of muted colours. And wait, are those knits? Yes, hand-knitted sweaters – deliciously chunky – made by artisans in Peru. “We put so much effort into each little piece of each garment and I think people can really feel it,” says Helmstedt. And what’s a look without jewellery? Helmstedt’s comes in collaboration with Danish brand Maanesten, big half moons and metal crowns.
How do you top off such a show? With a gorgeously outrageous tentacled alien gown; a stunning creature from planet Helmstedt.