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Avoiding tunnel vision

From civil engineering to fashion design, Moe’s Henriette has already proved she is avoiding the tunnel vision she so dreads. It’s impossible not to be impressed by the transformation, so we sat down with Henriette over a cup of coffee to find out more.

Going from engineer to designer is something you don’t hear about everyday, what drove the change of direction? Tell me a bit about your background and why you started MOE.

When working as an engineer, I felt the urge to follow a more creative path in life, and two years after I started my engineering career I found myself moving to Denmark to study fashion design. Not the typical path, but a path that turned out to be very important for who I am as a designer today. The structure of the school where I studied, Teko (today VIA Design), is to combine designing and the technical aspects that follows – from idea to a finished product. When studying, I understood how important crafting, and the creation of pattern cutting, was for me, and the construction of a garment was the base for more or less all the work I did in school.

Artikkel 1280x750px2Turns out the change wasn’t such a dramatic one after all, and that engineering and design has quite a bit in common. Still, taking the risk of starting one’s own brand is an ambitious one. What made you want to take that step?

Almost from the beginning of my fashion design studies I had the dream of founding my own clothing company. When I graduated from Teko in 2013, I was lucky and got a job offer, and three weeks after graduating I started to work for Jack and Jones. After about a year at Jack and Jones I felt the need to experiment, push myself further and make my own rules – and that is why Moe came to be. A place where I could have creative freedom.

Creative freedom also means you have to limit yourself, to choose one direction from the thousands available. What is the inspiration behind your snap-shot like product imagery and art direction?

I want to keep it real. I am not a fan of over editing pictures making them flawless. I want to show it as it is. Transparency, and honesty, is important to me. I also like to see the exclusive garments, which are made in high quality fabrics, in raw and unpolished surroundings. I think the combination makes you see the clothes with different eyes.

And you latest collection, what eyes should we see that through?

Living cool, is both the name of my SS18 collection and  the direct inspiration behind it. . Emanuele D’Angelo’s photo series about the lowrider culture in LA, «Baby Let’s Cruise», sat the mood and vibe for the collection … cool, self assure and relaxed, yet dedicated. In SS18, I have worked with making wearable statement pieces which should give the user this feeling I like to describe as dedicated, strong and powerful, yet effortless and cool.

Overall, I get inspired by and thrive to combine elements from construction and engineering with fashion. This forces me to think outside the box. For SS18 elements from cars, more precisely seat belts and cam buckle straps, are merged and become an integrated part of suit trousers, shirts or suit jackets. Function, and ability to adjust how to wear the garment, gives the user ownership – and they have to make a stand about how to use the garment. I like when the user becomes an active part and needs to think, evaluate, and make their own opinion and choice.

What you’re saying shines through in they way your clothes have a relaxed feel, but are still formal and geometric. What are your thoughts on this?

More or less, I have been fascinated by formal garments since  the starting point of my design studies. In school, I often worked on deconstructing mens’ wardrobes in my design process, recreating them, and combining this with my own techniques of pattern cutting. When I started Moe, it was therefore natural for me to stay on this path, and I felt there was so much that  was unexplored, and that I could keep developing. When that is said, I did not start Moe with the mission of making the formal wardrobe more relaxed, but as Moe become a reality and my products reached the market, I quickly understood that the “informal formal wear” was something people had been missing, and that I was filling a hole in the market. The more classic wardrobe is often quite uniform and conservative, even a bit boring, but the materials and fit is really nice. I therefore want to keep the good bits, but edge it up, give the clothes design characteristics, push the silhouettes further, and re-interpret classic staples.

What’s your next steps to keep that momentum?

I try not to have too strict of a plan, as I am afraid I get a tunnel vision, and get too focussed on that goal in order to notice other opportunities that come along my way unexpectedly. When that is said, the overall focus is to continue to grow steadily, introduce Moe to new markets, while challenging and developing my work though new collections. But I can let you know that I am working on a very exciting project which hopefully will happen very soon in Oslo, so keep your eyes open.

Photography: Maxime Cardol
Hair / make-up: Ingrid van Hemert, House of Orange
Model: Elise, The Movement Models
Clothing: Moe Oslo
Jewelry: SWY Studio

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