Maxjenny Forslund combines art and fashion to create clothing, furniture and textile designs. Maxjenny! is her niched and pioneering fashion brand, headquartered in Copenhagen and for a large part dedicated to innovation, with wearability and function top of mind. Her work worn by celebrities like Madonna and Scandinavian royals, her loyalty to her more common customers is a priority. I love her colors, style and artistic character. Some of her work made me flash back into my teens and twenties, while recognizing this is at the same time beautifully designed contemporary fashion. Interviewing her was a pleasure and getting to know her a joy, so I hope you experience the same reading this article. Let’s go to Denmark for some original and established fashion, get to know this interesting Danish designer and let us know what you think.
Can you tell us a little about you, your background and how you came to this point?
I am a taught furniture designer with a great career within design and interior and I had my own brand since I left The Royal Design School of Copenhagen in 2003. In 2013 I started the fashion brand Maxjenny! which was created as a result of the many requests for the clothes I was wearing, besides me being ready to try out something new. My mother is a fashion- and textile designer for 50 years, so the shift of my focus is not that strange. My furniture- and interior design has always been very tactile and textile based and since I am an autodidact fashion designer it gives me a sort of advantage towards the industry. I am very unafraid towards new projects and doings but don’t always know what I am throwing myself into, but luckily most often land on both feet.
You say you strive to embolden the ones who wear your clothing with street smarts and creds. How do you go about that and have you received such reactions from people having worn your attire?
You’ll come a long way only by wearing my prints which are carefully drawn with colours that make you more secure and straightforward. My non-small-detailed-styles fits many female body types and on a weekly basis I receive lovely emails from admiring fans.
Do you draw inspiration from Modern Art, considering your style’s similarities to it? Any other areas which influence your design creativity?
For a creativity injection, I love going to art gallery openings or taking in contemporary art. Typically I don’t look at other designers nor buy fashion magazines but I have loads of ideas queued up in my head so that I never have any problem starting out a new collection because I simply use the ideas in my creative mental queue.
Being a textile designer, can you tell us a little about the involved creative process and how it augments your fashion designs?
As I only work with white fabric prepared for printing, I am primarily looking at the surface, its type of texture and it will tell me what it wants to become.
In which way do you consider your collections to be avant-garde?
The fact that my work is experimental, a new type of creative while being innovative in my branch and since no one does it the way I do; for now I am in the frontier of what I know to be avant-garde.
Having lived and studied in The Netherlands for many years, your designs made me think of Dutch furniture designer and architect Gerrit Rietveld’s famous “Red and Blue Chair” and paintings by Dutch master painter Piet Mondriaan like “Victory Boogie Woogie” and “Composition II in Red, Blue, and Yellow”.Can you relate to this, maybe other such artists and in what way?
I find my own collections wearable art, so indeed.
The painted artwork was presented in galleries or at art exhibitions, so from the start it has actually been real art. I have just transformed this art into textile and fashion type styles, which is why I state wearable art with conviction.
Do you have a creative and commercial strategy to penetrate colorful popular subcultures like e.g. Japanese Manga & Anime?
I would like to sell in Asia and I always get questioned if I do, but it is not as easy as it might sound. You need a great agent or showroom to introduce you to that area of the world. It happens to be that agents and showrooms are as invisible as the air we are breathing and it is pure hell to find a good, trustworthy agent. Besides, I am always on the lookout for a showroom which can introduce me and has the right contacts to the Asian market, but so far no catch. I keep on looking, thats for sure.
Have you considered incorporating technology or use 3D printing designs in your quest for reduction of seams, application of intelligent materials and other such goals?
I have but I am only one person who makes it all, so I only touch this area when I have some spare time and that is not so often.
Operating from Copenhagen, do you ever feel isolated being removed from the global fashion capitals or have you found a way to turn this into an advantage? Can you tell us a bit about it?
Copenhagen is a part of the global fashion scene, so absolutely not! I only show abroad and sell abroad but have my office in Copenhagen and honestly think this somewhat of a weird question.
Copenhagen is home to many prominent brands working in the main fashion sector, but also quite a few working in the artsy area like IGongini, Vibskov and Stine Goya) which are going well with runway showings in the Paris and UK fashion weeks.
Copenhagen is like Berlin, quirky with an own state of mind when it comes to fashion, absolutely not as tight up and anxious as Stockholm but not as weird and fantastic as London’s fashion week. I think we are somewhere in between.
Early 2006 Madonna chose your clothing for a music video. Were any other noteworthy international celebrities spotted wearing your brand and what does it do for your label?
I have plenty including the Scandinavian royals which gets you fantastic attention but in the end all customers are equally important to me. In my opinion it is best for your clothing to be seen on different bodies.
Your design’s colors and patterns made me flashback to 90s video clips like ‘Groove is in the Heart’ by Deee-Lite and Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” and the vintage athletic apparel by the likes of Australian L’alpina I saw appearing around the same time on European streets and parties. Is there an element of truth in a possible revival of previous fashion trend elements? If so, can you elaborate on it?
Ehh, no …. I don’t work with trends and I don’t know what you are talking about exactly. Next question!
On a bit more personal note; considering you are a 2nd generation fashion designer in your family following your mother Margareta Forslund, are you ever seen as the daughter of …..? Does that bother you or instead do you feel honored and take it positively?
No, I love that! We always work together so there is absolutely nothing negative there. My mum is my muse and hard commentator since she has sold all over the world and been present at the ‘creme de la creme’. For me it is just totally positive to have someone around who knows how it can be.
On a funny note; with your father Owe Johansson also being an artist, can we imagine a household with similarities (minus the drama) of the Danish TV series Arvingerne (aka The Legacy)? Moments of the whole family being creative together? If not it or unknown, can you give us another example or describe?
We don’t work together like that.
Everyone has their own path and then one can ask for advice or talk projects through and have the other ones come up with good ideas on it.
Of course we are engaged with the processes and logistics of everything family related and we simply care.
On a much more personal note; what’s your life’s philosophy, what about spirituality and are your able to practice or incorporate those into your work? Please do tell us how.
My philosophy is that ‘totally nothing happens unless you make it yourself’ and ‘hard work pays off’.
You need to push in different directions in order to get things rolling and happening, all the time. And for sure; things in life don’t become more fun than what you make of it, so be smart and make it as fun as you can all the time.
I of course also work with affirmation and sports psychology, where athletes can visualize their goals and I can too.
Finally, what are you working on, what’s in store for the coming year and where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
I am just now having vacation but I have already begun working on my fall/winter collection for 2018 and a new product: colourful knits, which will be ready this November.
Within 5 years I will have a great full but tight staff who can help me out with different tasks and I’ll sell well in Asia while being more firmly established in the United States (just begun), Germany and Scandinavia. Also I might own more stores, but it is not easy to tell since I am not doing the sales as the rest of my colleagues, so one need to be careful.