Berner Kühl Copenhagen Spring 2023

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Frederick Berner Kühl, the Polimoda-trained and fabric-focused designer, founded his label in 2019 with the intention of creating minimal “keepers.” He made a big splash at his Copenhagen Fashion Week debut with a spring 2022 collection that featured technical materials, tailoring, and clean-lined silhouettes. It was no surprise to read Kühl is a fan of ’90s-era Helmut Lang.

Two seasons on, the designer remains focused on his mission. “This collection is about preservation; doing something that’s super long lasting,” he said at the close of his spring 2023 show where models wove in and out of scrims on an all-white set. “All the details we put into the garments are to make them even more durable. They’re also not revealing all at once.” The starkness of the space helped to draw out the textural details of a boiled wool sweater and a lino-weave shirt, it also emphasized the quality of the double-bonded nylon used for some very smart coats with drawstring hems.

“Basic” isn’t always a word of praise in fashion, but the focus on imbuing modern wardrobe stables (which include workwear and technical elements) with brand-specific details is something we are seeing more generally (check out Junya Watanabe and N. Hollywood’s latest collections), and makes sense in terms of sustainability. Fashion has to balance fantasy and reality. The models could have walked off set and seamlessly joined the crowd on the street. Perhaps the only thing that would mark them out was the stiff newness of their shoes.

The collection skewed towards separates, but the designer didn’t neglect tailoring. His move from two- to one-button jackets is in keeping with the increasing casualization of the workplace. “A blazer is something you can wear all the time, and this is something to make it a little bit easier,” Kühl said. The youth of the models, and at times their posture, added a sense of vulnerability to Kühl’s “manly” inverted triangle silhouette, though it didn’t distract from the everyday Adonis vibe of the collection. (There were female models as well, and the designer noted that his square shapes work for everyone.)

Finding beauty and utility in quotidian things is also part of the Scandinavian ethos. Fantasy isn’t flamboyant by definition, it exists where you find it. For Kühl, this season, it seems to be largely in body-revealing cuts and fabrics.

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