The co-founder of cult Copenhagen womenswear label Baum und Pferdgarten discusses her inspirations, career highlights and the brand’s playful DNA.
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Rikke Baumgarten founded the quirky Danish womenswear label Baum und Pferdgarten with her friend, Helle Hestehave, as the pair graduated from university in 1999. Since then, the brand has become known for its playful yet sophisticated aesthetic. Drapers spoke to Rikke about her inspirations, her partnership with Helle, and how the brand has retained its distinctive DNA.
You started the brand just after you graduated. How has it changed since then?
The main thing is that we got much more professional – going from small collections that were not very commercial and changing into a commercial company.
How do you balance the commercial aspects with maintaining the DNA of the brand?
We try to divide the collections into directions. It’s easier to keep your DNA when you know you can do whatever you like in one section and in another you have to keep prices, fabrics and colours more traditional.
How do you and Helle work together in the business?
We share the main ideas, themes, colours and fabrics and then work with different parts of the collection. We show each other what we’re working on and thinking about, but it’s quite separate.
Do you have very different styles?
We look much more alike now than we did when we met, like in a marriage. Helle is into more masculine, classic silhouettes and I’m really the opposite, more feminine. That’s the essence of Baum: those two worlds mixed together.
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What’s your favourite aspect of the job?
I love the time before the shows [at Copenhagen Fashion Week]. It’s half a year’s worth of work to show in your own way. It’s a creative process at the shows as well, when you do the [catwalk] preparation [ideas for] the new collections start. So many ideas come to us in that period.
You’ve said before that you hope the brand has an element of irony to it.
I like the word “humour” better – it’s about not being too serious about what you do. I think it’s important that there’s a quirky or fun take on some parts of the collection.
What’s the most important part of the design process to you?
A collection starts with the fabrics: they settle the direction of the collections. If we find a wonderful fabric, then we might see what kind of styles we want to use immediately.
Where do you find your inspiration?
It could be music or a movie, or a general theme. We once had a Patti Smith theme, where we listened to her music and read her book and looked at the very masculine world that she represented.
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What’s your favourite collection to date?
Autumn 16, which has just launched. I’m really fond of that collection, especially the colours – I love the burnt siennas and the petroleum blues. It was a very harmonic collection and still very colourful and eclectic.
Whom do you admire most in the fashion industry and why?
Raf Simons. He doesn’t compromise on anything. I like his combination of being super-tough and sensitive at the same time. I really look forward to seeing what he’ll do at Calvin Klein.
What has been your career highlight to date?
The first time we did a show was a highlight, but it’s more that we go to work every day and we actually manage to get through all the difficulties. We have fantastic colleagues and a company we’ve been working towards for so many years. It’s the feeling of it now, more than one particular moment.
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
I love to be with my family and friends, eating a lot of fantastic food, drinking good wine and enjoying being with my children.
Favourite clothing brand?
I’m in love with Raf Simons’ menswear – it’s really radical and also extremely classic. Also [Japanese womenswear brand] Sacai – it is really innovative and works with a deconstruction I find very interesting.
Favourite places to shop?
In London, the new Dover Street Market. I totally love it – it’s much better than the old one.
Last fashion purchase?
A red Saint Laurent quilted leather shoulder bag.
I went to Mallorca in the early spring, and then I went to the Danish island, Anholt, with my family.
Last book you read?
Purity by Jonathan Franzen
Last film you watched?
Orlando with Tilda Swinton. I love it – I’ve seen it many times.
I worked in a bakery, selling bread and cakes.
I would be an artist – painting and weaving. I’m totally mad on carpets, rugs and weaving techniques.