Fashion as a Page-Turner

“We’re both very proud to be part of Pride Week, and it feels important to make some small contribution. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, we can’t have the parade this year as usual, so it’s even more important to direct attention to these important subjects.”
– Stina Wirsen

Absolut Art is thrilled to bring you prints resulting from a collaboration of two of Sweden’s most highly regarded creators: fashion designer Lars Wallin, who has dressed royals and musical superstars, and Stina Wirsén, whose illustrations have graced newspapers and magazines the world over.

Ever since first illustrating his dresses a decade ago, Wirsén has interpreted the spectacle and pageantry of Wallin’s designs, and he has invited her to participate in a career retrospective, where her illustrations are splashed all over the walls.

In this interview, they trace the history of their collaborations, talk about the way their personal styles complement one another, and express their satisfaction that a percentage of the proceeds from their collaboration will go to LGBTQ-related causes.

Tell us about the genesis of these beautiful drawings.

Stina Wirsén: I met Lars because he was one of eight fashion designers based in Sweden who were picked to represent Swedish fashion for an exclusive postage stamp collection. It was almost ten years ago now—when people still used stamps!

Lars Wallin: She came to my studio and made quick sketches of these dresses and many more. One was a red dress, and it was one of the most popular stamps that year, which was really fun. I did an exhibition when I celebrated twenty years, including the red dress that she illustrated and the original drawing along with the stamps. It’s been touring for ten years now, and at the latest venue, Vida Konsthall Öland, I wanted to do something a little different, so I invited six female illustrators to do illustrations from some specific dresses. Stina was of course one of my first choices. We reproduced these two drawings that we did for Absolut Art really big, like wallpaper.

Lars, what qualities of your designs are highlighted by Stina’s illustrations?

It’s the passion. I’m not a typical Swede in that my designs are not so minimalistic. There is a little bit more drama in my dresses, and she also has that quality in her work. She has a fantastic eye for catching the right angles and details, for example, to make the illustrations so full of life.

Stina, what qualities of the fashions were you looking to bring out in the work?

It’s like Lars says: What I feel strongly about in his art is actually the drama. For me his designs are like theater or an opera or a good book. It’s like a page-turner—what is going to happen next? It’s almost like you want to have a dialogue with the dresses. It feels like they create a party you want to be invited to. They’re very much in the here and now, but it’s also almost like a very good costume movie. It’s like the story of our King Gustav III. Everybody’s dressed up and a little bit tense because something is going to happen—and then the king gets shot!

Anything else you’d like to say?

Stina Wirsén: Twenty percent of the proceeds from the sales of these prints goes to Pride-associated causes. We’re both very proud to be part of Pride Week, and it feels important to make some small contribution. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, we can’t have the parade this year as usual, so it’s even more important to direct attention to these important subjects.