AS OSLO FASHION WEEK MOVES ON, DOWNTOWN 500 MAGAZINE MOVES ON AS WELL BY TAKING A CATWALK WITH THE OSLO MAN WHO IS KNOWN BY HIS MANY FAMES.
ONE OF OSLO’S MAIN FACE OF CREATIVITY, WHO’S EXTRA FRAMED AS A FIGHTER FOR ANIMAL RIGHTS, AS WELL AS A ONE FOR STYLE AND FASHION.
BARON VON BULLDOG
OUR OWN FASHION ARISTOCRAT. WE’RE CHATTING ABOUT HIS EARLY DAYS AS A PUNK ROCKER, TODAYS HIPSTERS, A WORLD IN CRISIS, AND HIS LATEST IDEA; DRESSING MAN’S BEST FRIEND. WE’RE PUTTING WATCHWORDS OVER TO YOU
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, HERE YOU HAVE; KJELL NORDSTRÖM AKA BARON VON BULLDOG!
DT 500 MAG: – Kjell, what about your personal big-bang practice?
BARON: – I grew up in Gothenburg, Sweden, with a Swedish mother and a Danish father, an older sister and a younger brother, and of course my best friend the schnauzer dog Lukas. My family is a typical ”middle class” family, with no particular interest in creative arts. Even though I was bullied as a child, I always felt that my family backed me up 100%. Especially my mother; She used to tell me ”There’s nothing wrong with you. It’s the others, those who bully you -have a problem.” So I became a fighter and decided that, in order to survive, to have a good life, I had to stand up for myself, and take no crap from others. This has definitely defined me as a person because I still feel that it’s important to fight against injustice. Ever since, I´ve hated cruelty, especially against kids and animals.
DT 500 MAG: – Watching your work, you’re popping up as an old-school visionary. Do you recall any erogenous experiences that made you discover your talents, while you were growing up?
BARON: – Believe me or not, but I was a very religious child! Even though my family is far from religious, anyway, I had a strong belief in God, until I was around 15 years old. Then I became a punk-rocker, a gay-punk-rocker, well actually a very glam-gay-punk-rocker, who loved disco as well! Alas, I never fitted in. I guess I always had a vision and a hope for a better and different world. At least better-looking world!
DT 500 MAG: – To create a great message should one be a rebel?
BARON: – I definitely believe that all fine types of art have to be political, in a sense. I never considered my design and collections as being ”fashion” or ”trend”, but as statements. Every garment that I’ve designed, every show that I’ve presented, has a background story. I’m completely uninterested in clothes as fashion items, and I never tried or wanted to be ”trendy”. I love the stories that people tell, with their looks and appearances. I’ve always tried to tell stories on the catwalk, with my models and design.
DT 500 MAG: – Your very 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 it was when I launched the collection, 15 years ago. I guess the whole issue, with racism in our society, is a growing problem that unfortunately never will 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 in itself. It’s the ideology behind that’s dangerous. So I replaced the swastika with my own BvB logo and designed a collection, that looked 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 uniforms as an inspiration. All my models were anti-fascist activists, and immigrants, but still people only saw the Nazi resemblance. That was a very interesting 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 the 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”, compared to ”professional editorial styling”, because the styling that we see in fashion magazines, is way too commercialized and predictable. The catwalk can be a wonderful arena for fashion combined with art. That’s why I love “haute couture”, and that’s why 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 every year, and some of them have really great ideas. The only problem is, that they show one collection and then they all disappear. I don’t know where they end up? It’s very difficult to start a career and survive as a designer in Norway, so I suppose that many give up, and some end up behind the desk at H&M. That’s a terrible waste of both time and talent.
DT 500 MAG: – Yes, the SAFE-Gene is killing it all! Are there any heroes these days?
“I really think that all young kids today are heroes!”
BARON: – Kids today are very much aware of the future. They understand things: that we can’t continue consuming like we’ve done for ages and exploit nature like there’s no tomorrow. Coming generation don’t want to kill and torture animals, just to dress up in fur. They understand that a t-shirt that only cost 49 kronor in the shops, means that someone’s not getting properly paid for the work. They understand that it’s not fair that only a few people can afford to buy clothes that cost a fortune when most of the world is starving so they don’t care for ”Haute Couture” anymore.
” I am glad, A GENERATION OF REAL, YOUNG HEROES ARE TAKING OVER! “
DT 500 MAG: – If we picture life from point A to point Z. What do you think is beyond Z?
BARON: – I believe in something bigger than us. Call it God, or just a higher dimension. I believe that there are certain things that are sacred. I think that both life and art is divine, in a way. Creativity is not just a way to solve problems, it also has a higher purpose. I hope and believe that life is a circle. I also believe in karma. Life is not always fair, so you don’t always get what you deserve, but that’s not the point. Nobody’s perfect, and we all make mistakes, make the wrong decisions and make bad choices. That’s a choice we all have.
” Material things and wealth aren’t important, in the end. We all should remember that. “
DT 500 MAG: – Many wacky things is going on these days, what do you think we should do?
BARON – Yes, we definitely face enormous challenges, both politically and socially. I spend a lot of my free time, working for animal rights. I love animals, and it gives me both mental strength and satisfaction, to fight for something other than myself. When a society faces fundamental problems, like today, it’s always the weakest that suffer the most. I don’t think there’s an easy solution to the enormous problems and challenges we face, and I don’t think that any of us, has an answer, how to fix it… I think that we have to stay sharp and not lose faith. We can all do something to help. We must never let fear, ignorance, hate and egoism take over. If we do, then we’re doomed.
“I believe in the good in people, not because I’m naive, but because I’m terrified of what the future will bring if we lose our empathy and solidarity between us.”
DT 500 MAG: – What about the self-sufficiency?
BARON: -My friends and my family are extremely important to me. I know a lot of people, but I only have a few very close friends. And that’s fine. I’m also very much a solitary person and I don’t mind my own company. I prefer being alone, especially 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 that I don’t always pick up the phone when I’m busy. It’s not being rude, I just need time for myself. I think it’s very important to be your own friend because, at the end of the day, we’re all left to our own devices.
DT 50 MAG: – What you do when you are uninspired?
BARON: – I don’t believe that creativity is something that suddenly strikes you as a lightening from above. And I don’t think that you can sit down and wait for creativity to happen. Maybe, creativity is a gift, I don’t know? Either you have it, or you don’t. But, being creative is very much 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 actually sat down once and calculated on 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 is dedicated to so-called creative tasks. The rest of the time, is just plain work, like solving ordinary problems, doing routine work and so on. I think that most people would be very surprised if they saw how ”boring” everyday life is when you’re a designer.
DT 500 MAG: – You were big on the scene back in 90´s here in O-town, Kjell, do you feel like Oslo has become sticky provincial? It’s like copycats eying other copycats.Is Oslo dead? Has Oslo really lost its creative balls, that it used to have back in the 90´s? When everything was more wild and raw? Or is this just some nostalgic bullshit?
BARON: – Oslo has definitely changed a lot the last 10-15 years. I don’t know why and how, but a lot of the creative madness and exciting subcultures that we experienced in the 90-ties, is unfortunately gone. And I’m sure that it’s not just a myth, or me thinking that things were better before. Times have changed, and I think that our society has become more conform and conservative. It’s the same, in both the fashion, art, and music scene.
“It’s too much more about ”SAFETY” and commerce these days, and much less innovative and ”provocative” acts.”
BARON: – I’m not saying that everything has to be new and innovative to be good, and I don’t mean that one should provoke just to ”show off”, that’s pathetic, but there is definitely something missing these days. A sort of energy and dedication that’s no longer present. And that’s a bit sad.
DT 500 MAG: – So, what is the Oslo ID? What is SS’16/AW’17 Oslo Look to Kjell Nordstrøm’s mind?
BARON: – Oslo is full of ”hipsters” today. I don’t understand and can’t cope with the hipster scene. It’s SO uninteresting, uninspiring and Totally boring. I miss Oslo in the late 90-ties when the club scene was booming and the subcultures were at its peak.
“Oslo today has become a rich and lazy old lady, with expensive handbags and conservative values.”
DT 500 MAG: – What is your motivation to achieve self-realization? What tip can you give a dilettante?
BARON: – The good thing about getting older, is that you stress down. I don’t think so much about ”self-realization” anymore. Maybe, it’s because I’ve had my ”wild years”, and I’ve realized most of my dreams, but I have also a changed focus in life. I have other priorities now. I’m more concerned with the well-being of my friends and family now. I’m even planning on having a new schnauzer puppy this spring! I don’t feel that I’m missing out on anything if I don’t go out clubbing every night. I’m quite happy at home, reading or just having friends over. I don’t feel that I have to prove anything, not to myself nor to others. And Thank God for that!
DT 500 MAG: – Whats going on in your very hood?
BARON: -I live in the center of the city, just behind the Royal Palace. I like to live in the center, – it’s convenient. I’m always running late for appointments, so it’s very practical to live in walking distance to everything.
” I’m definitely a ”concrete flower” so I’m addicted to city life “
DT 500 MAG: – We love concrete flowers! Things to do a la Kjell Nordstrøm in Oslo?
BARON: – I love the parks in Oslo, Bygdøy and the Fjord so I would recommend a nice picnic in any of the parks, a boat trip to any of the islands in Oslo-Fjord. Oslo is unique when it comes to beautiful parks and nature. That’s absolutely the best thing with Oslo, at least in the spring, summer, and autumn. In the winter? I am enjoying my home, work, reading, a company of my friends, dining and wining! I don’t do skiing. I prefer to go to cinemas and brown cafés. Bourgeois things like that. And I love to travel. All cities inspire me. I lived in Paris for 5 years, and I try to travel as often as I can. Paris, Prague, New York, and London are my favorite cities.
DT 500 MAG: – What is on your agenda, what’s next in your calendar?
BARON: – Right now, I’m working on 2 collections for 2017. It’s secret, for sure, but I can blitz a little clue on what I’m working on: one collection is accessories for men. It’s very basic, 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 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 very exciting project; It’s a Norwegian-Swedish co-production, a theater 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 very 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 DOWNTOWN 500 MAGAZINE
PHOTO BY SIGVE ASPELUND
GRAPHIC DESIGN BY HILDE MARSTRANDER