bARBARA i gONGINI is the name of the Danish brand of the same name as the designer, Barbara i Gongini, who designs two lines for it, the main seasonal collection and The Black Line, a simplified collection that is more commercially focused on creating a wardrobe of womenswear basics that nonetheless shares the same conceptual starting point as the main line.
The SS11 Black Line collection is very much about sticking to the austere basic palette that we often associate with Barbara’s aesthetic; sculptural rather than decorative with dramatic draping and fluid lines. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why it’s particularly popular with women who have come across it in the various high-end boutiques that stock it internationally. Quite apart from being very aesthetically pleasing, it’s highly practical, especially for those leading busy and active lives over the summer months. Clever little nips and tucks and thoughtful detailing gives it just enough difference to not seem too informal or ad hoc in professional settings or when out at a more dressy venue. But, the use of simple fabrics, often favouring those with some elasticity or patina of wear make it highly practical, perfect for the woman who wants to be able to ride her bicycle to the opera or an art gallery opening.
Although The Black Line is a collection focussed on basics, it is not really a capsule collection, including a substantial number of looks. This season’s collection is no exception. In a gradated palette ranging from bold black, through soft beige or mushroom tones to pure white, it’s quite intentionally meant to offer endless mix ‘n match opportunities. And any woman with a busy and varied lifestyle could do far worse this summer than to stock up on a few key pieces to benefit from a versatile wardrobe of many combinations.
Barbara i Gongini was one of the new wave of Danish designers that emerged at the very end of the 1990’s, internationally gaining attention as part of an overall media interest in the emergence of Scandinavian fashion on the international scene. Traditionally rather far from the beaten track to the world’s international fashion centres and operating under different economic parameters from most other commercial fashion producers, the last two decades have seen designers like Barbara i Gongini either taking the plunge and moving their activities to one of the more traditional fashion centres or, like Barbara, remaining vehemently based at home but increasing distribution internationally.
Producing some kind of authentic and homegrown Nordic fashion identity was very much something that preoccupied Barabara’s peer generation of designers and, in the case of Barbara i Gongini, it is still something that is embedded in the philosophy of the clothing. Perhaps it shares certain qualities – such as apparent simplicity and a kind of formal purity- with the regional sensibility of architecture or furniture design, disciplines that had already gained an impeccable international reputation during the twentieth century. Exactly whether, in a globalised age, it is still relevant to couch creativity in such regional terms in somewhat questionable. One could, for example, identify designers from very different parts of the world that share Barabara’s aesthetics and approach. Nonetheless, bARBARA i gONGINI is a brand that very much sees contributing to the artistic debate in its home territory as part of its rationale for existing.