And while her black and white poplin blouses and paneled dresses rendered in cotton and satin are made by hand in her atelier in Copenhagen and sold at blue-chip retailers, Bahnsen insists they are meant to be lived in rather than fussed over. “I love how my clothes look when they get caught by the wind while you’re riding a bike.
The designer Cecilie Bahnsen was 12 when a summer internship assisting costumers at the Royal Danish Theatre helped her find her calling. “Seeing the kind of time, love, and detail that went into each dress totally wowed me,” Bahnsen, now 35, says of that formative experience.
Thanks to the tongue-in-cheek runway show they staged in 2014 on a Copenhagen hotel rooftop’s tennis court, their revamp of the label, full of eccentric prints and stylish separates, caught the attention of retailers like Mytheresa, Selfridges, and Net-a-Porter.
In between earning her B. A. in fashion design at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and a master’s in women’s wear from the Royal College of Art, in London, Bahnsen landed a job with the designer John Galliano.
Winters in Copenhagen are long and gray, so friends Barbara Potts and Cathrine Saks decided to make the dreariness work in their favor. “We needed clothes that would bring some color to the streets,” Potts explains.
In 2015, armed with a bright idea but no formal background in fashion design, the women, who today are in their mid-twenties, came up with the Febbe, a shearling coat in vibrant colorways—a tobacco version featured a turquoise collar and lime green sleeves.
Its success allowed Saks Potts to expand into equally eye-catching ready-to-wear and accessories—think polka-dot jumpsuits and blue mink purses—and as a result, the brand has drawn a loyal fan base that includes Selena Gomez, Cardi B, and Kendall Jenner.
Social media, the designers acknowledge, has been essential to their growth. “Without Instagram, I don’t think we’d be here right now,” says Saks, recalling the time Kim Kardashian West’s team reached out to place a custom kid’s order.