COPENHAGEN IS BURNINGFierce, fabulous and determinedly anti-minimalist, Stine Goya is Scandinavia’s spirited rulebreaker

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Copenhagen Fashion Week AW20 – which opens today – is in its third year since restrategising in an attempt to attract international press. The plan worked, and since 2017 a cottage industry touting the much-hyped Scandi look has sprung up. You can’t throw a rock in London without hitting an artisanal-coffee store decked out in blonde wood, embracing fika (the Swedish coffee break). Ditto independent boutiques hawking hair accessories and some of the region’s finest exports (a quick rollcall might read: Rotate Birger Christensen, Mads Nørgaard, Acne Studios. It’ll always include Stine Goya).

What hygge has done for the fluffy-slipper market shouldn’t be downplayed. Yet – for our collective fascination with all things Scandi – a misconception that the Danish capital is merely a mecca of minimalism prevails. But look beyond the tasteful monochrome and you’ll find designers playing with fizzy pinks, mismatched prints and lashings of ballroom sassitude.

“Contrary to popular belief, Denmark isn’t as dark as most would describe,” says model-turned-designer Stine Goya. “There’s a vivacity in the palette here that not many see.” Goya is a big believer in colour therapy and considers vibrance and self-expression to be pillars of the brand. “I wanted Stine Goya to be a point of difference to the muted palette and minimalist design that was so prevalent across Scandinavian brands at the time,” she says. Not content with the lavenders and yolk-yellows of picturesque Nyhavn, Goya’s Danish-inspired palette was bursting with loganberry, tangerine and hot pink at the SS20 House of Goya show, where vibrant, splashy designs paid homage to cult hits Paris is Burning and Kiki. Vogue proclaimed it “the best show at Copenhagen Fashion Week.”

Though the heady world of 1980s downtown New York where House Ballroom came to prominence feels at odds with the established – and famously clean-lined – Scandinavian aesthetic, it’s precisely this refusal to conform that ignites Goya. Despite being based in Copenhagen and – after 12 years in business – one of the pioneers of contemporary Danish design, Stine Goya is a global brand. “What connects our #GoyaPeople is their strength and confidence. It’s not about the look, but in the way they carry themselves,” she says. “Fashion boils down to exploring yourself – the colours you like, the fits you like – in a multitude of combinations. Being distinctly comfortable in expressing that exploration is what drives me.”

Like Elsa Schiaparelli before her, Goya’s signature shade is pink, chosen for its strength, femininity and playfulness. “Each season, each shade represents another step in the evolution of the brand… it’s hard to get bored of pink.” It’s just one of the signifiers that Goya is always ahead of the game. And while the rest of us wake up to Scandinavia as more than the home of fuzzy fibres and slimline sofas, she has already moved on – dedicated to experimentation, and with a rebellious streak that’s stuck with her since her Central Saint Martins days. “I design to tell a story, to explore an artistic direction and to set myself apart from the rest. As my career has developed, I have become more confident in this vision.”

Words: Mischa Smith
Photography: James Cochrane