Hi Elisabeth! Can you tell us how your love affair with fashion started?
I remember borrowing my mother’s sewing machine at a very early age, wanting to make my own clothes since I had a lot of ideas on how they should look. But without much luck and no idea on how to construct and make garments, I don’t think any of it was wearable!
As a child, was being a fashion designer your dream job? Or did you realise that much later?
I spent many years trying to figure out what to do with my life. I was restless and rootless and tried a lot of different jobs in different fields. While trying to figure this out, I worked a lot, saved money and travelled as much as I could.
It was on one of my trips to Australia while soaking up the sun at Bondi beach when it suddenly hit me: “I am going to be a fashion designer!” Then and there, I knew I had finally figured it out, like I finally figured out the solution to a very difficult puzzle. It was very strange that I didn’t see this before since fashion has always been one of my biggest passions. But sometimes, it can be hard to see the obvious since you’re so close to it.
Let’s talk about the Too Damn Expensive brand. How did the label’s concept and unique name come about?
I knew I wanted the name to have something that was related to Norway. The name came to me while I was sill a student with no money and thinking to myself, “Everything is too damn expensive!” And there you have it! I like the name because I think it’s funny and ironic for a clothing brand. I wanted a brand with quality garments that make you look and feel good, versatile, timeless and interesting.
The garments can be used day to night, so the idea is that you can wear them to work and still feel dressed up enough to go straight out in the evening. That way, you’re up for anything that might come your way. The garments are also usually in the same fabric, making them easy to layer or combine with other pieces if you want a monochromatic look. And ultimately, the garments are meant to make you look and feel good, as I firmly believe that if you feel good, you do good — or at least better!
There’s a lot of black in your latest collection. Why do you use this shade so liberally?
Black is my favourite — it’s classic, timeless and can be combined with anything! There are also a lot of things I associate with black: Power, formality, exclusivity, mystery, intrigue, sleekness, order, elegance, and strength… I could go on and on! I also believe that most designs come out better in black. It’s such a strong shade that is usually the perfect blank canvas because it doesn’t compete with other shapes for attention.
Does this love affair with black go beyond your clothing?
I like being surrounded by black — as well as grey and white. As a creative person, I kind of have enough color in my head; it’s a chaos of thoughts, ideas and philosophies. If my surroundings were as colorful, it would be overwhelming because I feel that too much colour is too much of an aesthetic mess. In a strict monochrome environment, which symbolises order and calmness, my brain kind of works better.
We love the somehow sculptural yet relaxed silhouettes from your latest collection. What inspired it?
Geometrical or sculptural shapes often inspire me. For this collection, all the garments are designed and constructed out of different pieces of squares and rectangles. I wanted to make something as strict as a square seem organic and fluid in shape. I accomplished the finished product through its construction, as well as how the super soft cupro fabric drapes.
Care to fill us in on the fashion scene in Oslo?
To be honest, I don’t engage much in Oslo’s fashion scene — the brand isn’t even launched here! From the beginning, I wanted to focus outwards and internationally because I know that Norwegians have a tendency to not believe so much in their own business. Why that is, I have no idea.
Fill in the blanks: “When it comes to fashion…”
Don’t follow all the trends! First of all, just because it’s a trend, it doesn’t necessarily look good. Second, not all trends might look good on you as a person or your body type. That said, pick up on trends that suit your personality, style and body type, and mix it in with garments that generally make you feel good. At the end of the day, if you feel good, you’ll definitely look good!
What’s a typical day like for you?
I’m not really a morning person, but when I wake up, I start with breakfast while checking the news and my mail. I’m also lucky that my office is at home. I pretty much work all day and I often stay up working until 4-5AM. I’m a night person and this is when I get more creative and efficient at night. That’s pretty much the routine from Monday to Friday, but from Friday afternoon till Sunday, it’s a very different story. The weekend is playtime!
How does a busy fashion designer like yourself recharge or chill out?
I love to travel or just hang out with friends anywhere with good wine. I don’t really have a particular favourite place and it’s really more about who I am with than where I am.
What is one thing that you find too damn expensive, but always end up buying anyway?
That would have to be transportation! Taking taxis in Oslo is very expensive, but I still end up doing it anyway, as I am usually in a hurry!