BARON VON BULLDOG
DT 500 MAG: – Do you recall any erogenous experiences that made you discover your talents while growing up?
BARON: – Believe me, I was a very religious child! Even though my family is far from orthodox, I had a firm belief in God until I was around 15 years old. Then I became a punk rocker, a gay-punk-rocker, and a very glam-gay punk rocker, who loved disco as well! Alas, I never fitted in. I always had a vision and hope for a better and different world. At least a better-looking world!
DT 500 MAG: – What are your beliefs?
BARON: – I believe that all beautiful types of art have to be political. I never considered my design and collections as” fashion” or” trend” but as statements. Every garment I’ve designed and every show I’ve presented has a background story. I’m entirely uninterested in clothes as fashion items and never tried or wanted to be” trendy.” I love the stories people tell, with their looks and appearances, and I’ve always tried to tell stories on the catwalk with my models and design.
DT 500 MAG: – Your brand BARON VON BULLDOG had a sarcastic collection named PROPAGANDA, where the aesthetics were Nazi-inspired uniforms with an anti-racist message. What do you think about that idea today?
BARON: – I think it’s more relevant today than when I launched the collection 15 years ago. I guess the whole issue of racism in our society is a growing problem that will never be solved. The idea behind” Propaganda” was: do not believe everything you see! The uniform or a symbol (the swastika, for example) isn’t necessarily dangerous. It’s the ideology behind that’s dangerous. So I replaced the swastika with my BvB logo and designed a collection similar to Nazi uniforms. In fact, it wasn’t Nazi uniforms. The cut and details were more like boy scouts uniforms, and I used old Scandinavian costumes as an inspiration. All my models were anti-fascist activists and immigrants, but still, people only saw the Nazi resemblance. That was an exciting experience, although I probably was the most hated person in Norway for a couple of weeks. And I lost my sponsors. But it was worth it!
DT 500 MAG: – Tell us about magic in styling? Fashion vs Art?
“Whether we are aware of it or not, and whether we like it or not, we all make statements every day when we get dressed. That is everyday styling. “
BARON: – Styling is telling the world what and who you are. I’m more interested in” amateur street styling” than” professional editorial styling” because the styling that we see in fashion magazines is way too commercialized and predictable. The catwalk can be an excellent arena for fashion combined with art. That’s why I love “haute couture,” and I’m so interested in watching the work of young and new designers. There’s a lot of talent out there. I see many new designers graduate yearly, and some have really great ideas. The only problem is that they show one collection, and all disappear. Where did they end up? It’s challenging to start a career and survive as a designer in Norway; so many give up, and some end up behind the desk at H & M. That’s a terrible waste of time and talent.
DT 500 MAG: – What about self-sufficiency?
BARON: -My friends and my family are significant to me. I know many people, but I only have a few close friends. And that’s fine. I’m also solitary, and I don’t mind my own company. I prefer being alone, primarily when I work. I often isolate myself when I’m in a creative process because I don’t want to be disturbed. My friends know I only sometimes pick up the phone when I’m busy. It’s not rude; I just need time for myself. It’s essential to be your own friend because we’re all left to our own devices at the end of the day.
DT 50 MAG: – What do you do when you are uninspired?
BARON: – I don’t believe that creativity is something that suddenly strikes you like lightning from above. And you can’t sit down and wait for creativity to happen. Creativity may be a gift. Either you have it, or you don’t. But being creative is a matter of self-discipline. Some days I feel more” inspired” than others, but I still get up and go to work. Even when I feel like shit! I sat down once and calculated this; How much of my working time is actually” creative”, and how much is just ordinary work? I figured out that approximately 15-20 % of my work hours are dedicated to so-called creative tasks. The rest of the time is only tedious work, like solving everyday problems, doing routine work, etc. Most people would be amazed if they saw how” boring” everyday life is when you’re a designer.
DT 500 MAG: – You were prominent on the scene back in the 90’s here in O-town, Kjell. Do you feel like Oslo has become sticky provincial?
BARON: – Oslo has changed significantly in the last 10-15 years. I don’t know why and how, but many of the creative madness and new subcultures we experienced in the 90-ties are unfortunately gone. And I’m sure it’s not just a myth or me thinking things were better. Times have changed, and I believe that our society has become more conform and conservative. It’s the same in the fashion, art, and music scene. I’m not saying that everything has to be new and innovative to be correct, and I don’t mean that one should provoke just to” show off,” that’s pathetic, but something is missing these days. A sort of energy and dedication that’s no longer present.
DT 500 MAG: – So, what is the Oslo ID?
BARON: – Oslo is full of” hipsters” today. I don’t understand and can’t cope with the hipster scene, and it’s SO uninteresting, uninspiring and Totally dull. I missed Oslo in the late 90-ties when the club scene was booming, and the subcultures were at their peak.
DT 500 MAG: – What’s going on in your hood?
BARON: -I live in the city centre, just behind the Royal Palace. I like to live in the middle – it’s convenient. I’m always running late for appointments, so it’s convenient to live within walking distance of everything.
“I’m definitely a” concrete flower” so I’m addicted to city life.”
DT 500 MAG: – What’s next on your calendar?
BARON: – I’m working on 2 collections for 2017. It’s a secret, but I can blitz a little clue on what I’m working on: one collection is accessories for men. It’s fundamental, with only 10 items in the whole collection. It’s almost classic at first sight, but the cut, tailoring, and materials are very original. I’m cocky enough to claim that it’s the” ULTIMATE ACCESSORY COLLECTION” for a man. With this in your wardrobe, you won’t need anything else. The other collection is for dogs. It’s complete madness, a crazy selection of” 4 LEGGED TERRORIST” clothes, 100% based on the needs and wishes of the dogs. A line of clothes that I hope both dogs and owners will love. That’s all I can reveal right now. The rest is magic.
DT 500 MAG: – Pls tell us more about that magic.
BARON: -And I’m also designing the costumes for a fascinating project; It’s a Norwegian-Swedish co-production, a theatre play about the life of the great composer Händel… but mostly about his secrets and perversions!!! The premiere is in Gothenburg in May, so we will be working on that all spring. I have another (secret) project here in Oslo in September, so I will be busy all summer preparing for that. I’m not a workaholic, but I get restless doing nothing, so I’m happy when the calendar is full.
“And, then, it’s the big question; Will Baron von Bulldog have a comeback in 2017? I guess we just have to wait and see…”
INTERVIEW BY Arthur Sopin
PHOTO BY SIGVE ASPELUND
GRAPHIC DESIGN BY HILDE MARSTRANDER