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Designer ambitions

While designers like Nora Farah are striving to bring their collections outside Norway, others like success story Siv Støldal, a former collaborator with Fred Perry, is leaving London to come back home to roost.

Nora Farah is by definition a measure of success in the Norwegian fashion industry. Prior to designing her own collection in 1992, the French-Norwegian designer worked for couture houses in Paris such as Azzedine Alaia and fashion apparel companies in Oslo, gaining renommé for her elegant evening gowns for music and film stars. In 2004, she started producing her own prêt a porter line. She sells to around three dozen stores all over Norway and has a showroom in Majorstuen, Oslo’s trendy western shopping district.

But Farah has bigger ambitions. She is working on breaking into the Scandinavian and European market and has sights for Japan. That is not easy without economic help for small designers, she said. In England, for example, designers are reimbursed for bringing their collections to international fashion weeks as a way of stimulating UK export. Keep an eye on Nora Farah in the future as she and her design talent continue to make waves in Norway and beyond.

Siv Støldal collection AW0809. © Sveinung Skaalnes

Coming Back Home

Siv Stoldal has already made it big on the international scene with her menswear line. But she is giving up her East London lifestyle to settle back in her hometown of Tyssøy, a small island community of 50 just outside of Bergen.

It was both a personal decision and a business one. She has lived in London for nearly 10 year and was loathe for her three-year-old daughter Matilde to grow up as an East London teenager. She fondly recalls taking the boat to school in Tyssøy when she was just seven. Now with the internet, she could work anywhere she wanted. Her production is in Hong Kong, her press office in London, and her collection is in around 20 stores world-wide, from Scandinavia, Moscow, and London to Korea.

“I don’t see it as really that much different from being in London than on the island at Tyssøy,” said Støldal. “In daily life, you don’t actually need to meet people face to face. My friends are envious.”

Støldal believes there is an absolute potential for Norwegian designers to break out in the international scene. She herself has collaborated on clothes with Fred Perry, shoes with Kickers and jewellery with Husam El Odeh. One of the biggest impediments is mentality, she said. Designers need to show their collection at the international trade show.

Success stories like Siv Støldal are important to the ever-expanding Norwegian design environment, a success story that is far from completed.