Monday, May 24, 2010

My way or the highway

As I read through this blog I realize that I have a way of sounding positive even when I’m not. That is fucking awful. I’m just like those moms I despise so much, you know the ones that put their kids on a pedestal going on and on about how perfect they are. Only I do it with Ravishing Mad. And the amount of exclamation marks is overwhelming. There has to be a change.
I think I have a problem admitting when things are not all well, cause I’m afraid of showing my weaknesses. A fact is that my temper is pretty up and down, and I think too much. Right now I’m in this period of my life where I have started to question everything that I do. So why not thresh the topic Ravishing Mad a little more? My work within the brand has been pulled in directions that I didn’t consciously choose, and in a way I feel that I’ve lost myself. This feeling has grown on me for a while and only recently I started to put it into words. There are a few things that I know for sure, and I’d better just write them down so it’ll be easier to charge me for manslaughter the day I go against them and accidentally murder RM.

Ravishing Mad exists because I want to work artistically with fashion without being IN the world of fashion where there are rights and wrongs, smearing smiles, high horses and above all the business expression “but that’s how it’s done, everyone else…” Second, I don’t care about the seasons and I wear the clothes that I like all year around. If the Summer is cold, a flannel shirt or wool cardigan is perfect, and if the winter is warm a denim jacket works perfectly well. I always like washed out black and bright red, it’s simply not a seasonal thing for me…just as the gender label people put on clothes. Half of the things I buy are from the men’s apartment and I love the idea of unisex styles. It has nothing to do with trying to erase gender, but I don’t think it’s defendable to refuse wearing something gorgeous or match things in a particular way cause it wasn’t meant to be that way.

Growing up, I always did things my own way, and it wasn’t always easy. I really need to remind myself right now that I like it like that, and I’m not happy when I let the surroundings control me. What I just realized was that I lately haven’t been doing things in that manner, so I need to rethink. I’m turning my world around with a little help from my friends and we make it right again…I’m going back to my roots and I feel love.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hanna Hedman

It has been mentioned that hiding some of my talents isn’t appreciated, so I thought I’d tell you about at least one of them since it also includes my friend Hanna Hedman. Back in the days when I used to hang about with Kim Gordon, we did some very cool gigs that were also recorded. Kim off course had a thing for singing, but the rest of us switched instruments whenever. Once, we hooked up with my friends Josephine Günther, Lina Torsvall, jewlery desinger Hanna Hedman, and ceramic crafts designer Joanna Günther. That was when I for the first time tried to play the drums, Roland D50 is where I’m usually at home. We called ourselves The Random Slippers, which kinda fitted our sound like a glove.

I think Hanna did the chorus on that recording, but if I remember correctly she was afraid of the mic. That explains the few moments of sound she manages to bless our ears with on this one.

Now it's time to cut to the chase, I want tell you more about this sweet friend mine, and her wickedly divine work. Check this out, here are some of my favourites from different collections she has made last two or three years. Metal sheets from silver, steal and powder coated copper with hand drilled holes, syntetic fibers, pearls and paint.

Her first collection Enough Tears To Cry For Two was heartbreaking with its dripping darkness and thewy anguish. I love it so much! It was followed by What You Tell Is Not Always What You Have Experienced, which was inspired by how stories change depending on the narrator and how a person’s personality can consist of as much fantasy as realism. Its contrasts between humour and melancholy is brilliant I think. Isn't that fish necklace the best ever?

Hanna and I met for the first time in Amsterdam two years ago, when we and some other designers were invited to show our work to celebrate the 25’th aniversary of the fashion fair Modefabriek. Hanna strikes you as pretty calm at first, but as it turns out she is also very cool and fast. Hanna is the girl that within only a few weeks: impulsively went to New Zealand, knocked out both her front teeth, was robbed at the supermarket, dropped out of school and came back, and made one of the most scaringly depressive and fantastic jewlery collections ever.

Her work is very well appreciated all over the world and it feels like she’s always out travelling. A few weeks ago she went to Mexico to attend the Gray Area Gris symposium in Mexico City, recently showed at the art fair Collect in London, did a single show at Soda in Istanbul, and all kinds of other exhibitions at galleries in Sweden, USA, Netherlands, Germany and Poland, Japan and New Zealand.

I very much hope to work with her soon, we have talked about it before, but now I have a project in mind that she hopefully can't resist. (Note how I consciously try to influence her answer by going public with my wish.) Have fun in Japan, Hanna, and let's talk when you get back!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Puma Street 2010 at Stapelbäddsparken

On Saturday, I’m gonna be doing of a workshop for teenagers here in Malmö at the Puma Street 2010 at Stapelbäddsparken. Before I moved from Stockholm, I was working with kids, helping them how to sew at evening courses and I really have missed doing that lately. It’s so funny that this thing bumped into me only two days after I spoke with Truls and a friend about taking up teaching again.

I’m bringing some sewing machines and other stuff and there will be lots of things to work with in the so called vintage corner. I’ll help you pimp your old clothes (bring anything), and will supply you with buttons, rivets, zippers, wicked fabrics, textile print colour and off course loads of accessories, second hand stuff and puma gear. I love working with denim you know, so bring your old jeans or whatever, and let’s remake them!

There will also be stylists, photographers, dancers, bloggers, and secret guests performing or just hanging around to make this day the best ever. Bring your artistic work and photographies and get to talk about it or even win a prize. If you feel like it you are welcome to come try out working in the professional photo studio, or test your MC abilities, scratch, talk, rap or sing with DJ Clara Stjärna.

The day starts at 10 am with a street football tournament which will continue all day long, and after lunch some of Sweden’s best street football freestylers will show their skills. I’ll be there from 12 to 5 pm, Chords are playing live at 7 pm, and DJs Ras Schack, Rob Love, P. J., Americol, DT & Sindri, and M.E.S.S are performing too.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Paraphrase Project

ravishing mad, anna österlund, truls bråhammar, paraphrase john     lennon yoko ono, paraphrase, annie leibovitz
The Paraphrase project is our latest thing that we have going on. It started out when André asked me and Truls to do our own version of the Leibowitz photo of John and Yoko earlier this year. Two days before we were gonna do it, I saw this fashion video that made me throw up. You know the kind with the young, sexy, naive model semi-porning around in an apartment,implying that she’s getting high even though she’s just smoking plain cigarettes and drinking foxy cocktails.
And hey! make sure she doesn’t show more than an occasional nipple, cause we don’t wanna risk upsetting anyone!

So I said: -let’s make a video of us taking that photo! And let’s do it in the total opposite way from that video we just saw, let’s just keep it raw, simple and true. I think the whole session took less than an hour, and the same with the editing. Later on that day, when we spoke on the phone, we chattered and cheered from exhilaration and came to the conclusion that this was just the beginning of something unstoppable, so we immediately started planning on which photos to do next. So far we’ve made these three paraphrases, and we have seven more to go. I’m loving every minute of it!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mårten Charlie Stener Damgaard

Mårten lives his life as it were a film. He comes from the world metropole of Sorø in Denmark, which has the staggering population of 7743 people, but don’t let that fool you. He is the RM maestro himself, has a heart of gold, and is one of my dearest friends.

This is the guy with the many alter egos. He differs between his names Mårten, and Charlie, according to mood, and you also might know him as my ‘in house model’, ‘meconium’ or ‘Charlie Campari’. For me, he goes under the name Mårten, and I know him in English...because my Danish ear sucks.


(Photo above: Mårten in Ravishing Mad AW-10 collection, 
photo by André de Loisted)

Music is his tool, but he’s got some thrilling fashion skills too. He’s played in all kinds of bands from sad heavy metal, insanely cool indie rock, spasmic electro, and much more. His latest project, Sir Charles, is most of the time just him and his tiny guitar in a very cool and unpolished setting with honest lyrics and a pinch of humour and irony. Like honey with salt. Mårten has recently started sketching on some crazy clothes too, and is filled with ideas that we’re incorporating into my latest collection. In the end of August we’re gonna perform together in Stockholm.

He also wrote and performed the song ‘I luv horse’, that we used in the Justify My Love paraphrase video. We thought it’d be such a fun and unexpected contrast to combine that video where I’m smoking for the first time in my life, with a song that is about such heavy shit. The first time I heard this song, Mårten was sitting on the floor of my messy working space at 2 in the morning playing it, while I was sewing. There is something about working late at night that I’ve always loved, and this occasion was so very special to me.

(Photo above: Mårten in Ravishing Mad clothes, 
photo by Mårten Svemark for Newspaper City Malmö/Lund)

(Photo above: Mårten and Ida Annie Kyllerman modelling in Ravishing Mad jeans, 
photo by me Anna Österlund)

So here it comes: a fun little video featuring me in a first-time-smoking-session, accompanied by Mårten’s music, André’s photo and Ravishing Mad clothes. It’s the third out of ten paraphrases of known photographies that we’re making this Spring and Summer. This one is referring to the Madonna album cover Justify My Love and we filmed it at the Victoria Theatre in Malmö just a month ago.

Oh, maybe I should post the photo André took of me first. Yeah, it's the one to the right. This photo is what the fuss is all about in the video. I mean, I thought it kinda odd, unmotivated and fake to put a cig into my mouth just for a photo. If I was gonna do it, it had to be the real way, and then you get to laugh at me!

(Photo to the right: Me in a Madonna paraphrase, photo by André de Loisted)

Kat Boelskov

I stumbled across this intimidatingly cool Danish girl on the internet only a few months ago. Even before I heard her music, I was sure I was gonna love it. And that assumption was made from just looking at one single photo, which I later on found out was to became the cover of her first album. Kat puts despair and loneliness into her music that just breaks your heart, and she is very brave both musically and visually.

I kinda wish I’d had heard this already when I was 13 and sat up in the middle of the night in my room in the basement drawing and crying to music that got to me. It would have fit so well into the feelings I was going through at that point. Kat’s music brings out so much nostalgia in me. The song called ‘Everything’ is my absolute favourite track from her album ‘Amateur’ and is about the feeling of being in such a perfect relationship that is so wonderful and fantastic that it feels you’re gonna explode. So you need to get out of it. Don’t ask me why that brings out nostalgia in me, it’s a mystery. Being in any kind of relationship back then seemed at the time like a paradise I had no access to.

Kat wanted to make a record a year ago with a friend, but got tired of waiting for everyone around to get their thumbs out their arses, so she started writing an album by herself in the Autumn. Within a few weeks after she started posting her music on the internet at the turn of the year, she had quite a following of over 4000 people on FB from all over the world. I asked her if she wanted to do some kind of a collaboration. I mean, she is ravishing and she is mad, so I knew for sure I wanted her to come play with me.

I suggested we did the collaboration within my paraphrase project and that we did a photo of Carl Barât and Pete Doherty of the Libertines. I wanted Kat to play the part of Pete in our photo and she was both thrilled and surprised over what I wanted to do. The original was shot the same day as Pete got out of prison for trashing Carl’s apartment when looking for things to steal to support his cocaine addiction. After serving three months in prison, Pete met up with Carl at the music venue Tap ‘n’ tin in Chatham just outside London. Carl was very nervous about meeting Pete, unsure of how upset Pete might be from being sent to prison by his best friend. As it turned out there were no hard feelings and they played a gig later on the same night.
(To the right is the original Libertines photo, which was later cut and used as one of their album covers.)

When Kat and I met up with Mårten and André to make this video, which happened already within two weeks after we started talking about it, I'd barely met nor spoken to her before. Kat came over to Malmö in the afternoon of a weekday and we tried to find a nice bar where we could film it all. First we all changed into Ravishing Mad clothes and then I think we walked around for an hour or so because everything was closed, before we finally found a place that would let us in before opening hours. We spotted a red velvet couch through the window of the restaurant called Metro in Malmö, and the chef let us in.

(above: photo by André de Loisted)

There was quite some tension in the air all along. We didn't plan anything, just went along with the making of the photo in a somewhat stumbling way. I like to do it like that. In some ways I think we kinda captured the same nervous feeling that was behind the original photo. This was the second out of ten paraphrases that I've made together with photographer André de Loisted and friends and artists that I adore. We call it "to libertines".

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Truls Bråhammar

I fell in love with Truls the first time I ever layed eyes on him. That was back in 1998. He rarely spoke and was just being gorgeous and mysterious. I watched him take his shirt off and he had some long dark marks all over his back as if he had been whipped. It fascinated me. As it turned out, he was a climber and just burnt his back on the rope a few days earlier, but it didn’t really matter. I was already hooked.

We have now been together for 12 years and run Ravishing Mad together. He was the one convincing me to quit studying political science and start being creative instead. Truls is probably the happiest, most positive, calm, secure and loving person I have ever met. He keeps me grounded and takes the drama out of the blacks and the whites in my mood.

It’s kinda annoying that he’s so good at almost anything he tries out for the first time. Among his extraordinary skills really worth mentioning are: carpenting, computer programming, flamenco dancing, playing the guitar and singing, writing very cool texts, fishing, skiing, climbing, solving any technical problems concerning an industrial sewing machine, and not to forget his excellent cooking skills. He also says things like: “it’s the work of a fucking genious!” when he diggs something I made. Well, he knows how to keep the wifey happy!

My playmates

I don’t like to divide my life into sections, I live it blurred. Work and fun can happen at any time, so I really don’t think there is any need to label it. I often go play with my friends, or work, we might sometimes call it work and sometimes not. We talk about everything possible that concerns we just found, funny people we read about, things that frighten us, love, our disorders, obscure little films, drugs, megalomania, sex, death, in all: whatever cool stuff we’ve just found, and we show each other lots of pictures.
And then and we wallow in the fascination of our discoveries...and we make drawings, try the ideas in photos and videos, make little collages and sketches and drape fabric on little dummies. It evolves into music for some of us, or photos and videos, and some in clothes, or we just mix it all. We rely on each other and wouldn’t wanna do it any other way. It’s so easy and fulfilling that I almost feel ashamed. I want to live and work through my life like this for ever and ever, and I will never allow my work to become a burden.

It wasn’t always like that, you know. The Summer that I turned 14, I was walking with my head dropped as always, and suddenly stumbled upon a big and lonely lucky clover. I picked it up and instantly knew what to wish for. I asked that, at one point in my life, I’d find someone to love and be loved by just as I am, and that I would become happy, and I meant really really happy. I was pretty realistic about it though (typically me), because I was also very thorough on pointing out that I was prepared to wait a long time for this, just as long as the wish came through…

I kept the lucky clover in the diary I had at the time, and now as I was looking through it the other day, it fell out. The day that I picked it is still so clear in my mind and I remember the feelings of longing as if it were yesterday. And to tell you the truth, the wish came true. I always had this goal of getting through my childhood and teens, so I could finally start to living my life as I wanted it. And I knew that if I only took one day at the time, or hour by hour, I’d eventually get out on the other side. It’s so weird to be there now, I just wish I could go back in time and give myself a hug.

With this in mind, I want to tell you about the loved ones I surround myself with now. Well, let’s simply call them my playmates. I don’t think I’d be able to breathe without them. I know who to begin with.