Vintage Stories

KappAhl’s new women’s collection, Vintage Stories, takes us back to times long past that exude nostalgia and subdued glamour.


KappAhl's women's collection manager Sophie Lilja, and her employees were inspired by the period around the turn of the 19th century when they created the new collection with the theme Vintage Stories.
“It was a romantic period. Elements such as airy materials, inset lace and embroidery, which were popular during “la belle époque” have influenced us. We have placed a great deal of emphasis on well-designed details like in the dress, Vinnie, with pin tucks and covered buttons. To get inspiration for material and cuts we looked in vintage shops in Paris that have beautiful old-fashioned washed cotton fabrics and tablecloths,” says Sophie. Vintage – to collect second-hand clothing and be inspired by fashion from other eras – is totally in line with today's times.
“A number of years ago people started differentiating between used/second-hand and vintage. By vintage, people are often referring to high quality clothes from the 1900s by famous fashion designers, often haute couture. The interest in learning more about this type of clothing and collecting it is also associated with the Internet making the entire fashion history of the 20th century accessible to the general public,” says Sophie.

There are many blogs about “historic” fashion (see page 16) and it is “in” to be specialised and knowledgeable about one special style or period. When KappAhl is now launching its own la belle époque fashion, they have taken a detour by the 1970s.
“The nostalgia wave was also strong in the 1970s and that is when clothes from the turn of the century and la belle époque made a comeback in the fashion world. The turn of the century's interest in details; embroidery and romance, fit perfectly together with the interest in the 1970s for the bohemian and hippie trends. Back then, young people mixed “Victoriana” in their clothes and made the strict 1800s fashion a little more relaxed. Natural materials such as cotton and linen worked well together with sandals and having flowers in your hair. 1970s nostalgia fashion was sold at the mini shopping center, Biba, in London.

At the same time, second-hand fashion experienced its first days of glory. With renowned shops like Granny Takes a Trip and Chelsea Antiques Market, the status of clothes from earlier eras started to rise. For example, trend-setters like Manolo Blahnik and Anna Piaggi wore clothes designed by Paul Poiret or clothes that had previously been worn by Noel Coward, Marlene Dietrich and others, and the great auction houses held their first special auctions for clothes. Now, it's time for that again.

Sophie Lilja has been inspired by the Swedish film about Elvira Madigan, directed by Bo Widerberg in 1967. “It is a film that is so romantic it almost hurts. Pia Degermark plays the beautiful and unspoiled Elvira. Innocence is reinforced by her white clothes. We would love to convey the feeling from this film with our new collection. The collection consists of skirts, dresses, blouses, tunics, cardigans and vests. It is almost totally in white but also has touches of light pink and faded terracotta. The collection includes matching accessories that are typical of the era as well as beautiful brooches, hairpins, ballerina slippers and bags in beautiful lace fabric.

In the children's collection, one of the highlights is the beautiful christening gown, with details that are reminiscent of a cherished family heirloom. The short knee-breeches, inspired by the pantalettes from the turn of the century, are also a part of the children's collection.


Passionate romance – and tragic, sudden death

It was forbidden love and a matter of life or death. One of the 1800s most well-known love stories, the true story of the relationship between the nobleman, Sixten Sparre, and the circus artist, Elvira Madigan, had a tragic ending that still fascinates us today.

Their love s tory has been depicted in chapbooks, plays, a ballet, musicals, and on the silver screen. The story of the noblema,  Sixten Sparre, and the circus artist, Elvira Madigan, never ceases to fascinate – perhaps because it asks the eternal question if there is a love so strong that it is worth dying for. Sixten and Elvira were found dead on July 20, 1887 in a grove outside the Danish village, Troense on the island of Tåsinge. Elvira had hung her hat, bustle and corset in a tree. Sixten Sparre had also removed his clothes before he shot his lover in the head and then shot himself in the mouth with a revolver.
The Swedish lieutenant and nobleman, Sixten Sparre, and the Danish tight-rope walker and circus rider, Elvira Madigan, born Hedvig Jensen, met and started a passionate love affair during the cold and rainy summer of 1887. Cirkus Madigan came to Sparre's hometown, Kristianstad, in Sweden – for him, it was love at first sight and he visited the circus every night. But it was truly forbidden love. A nobleman that was married and had two children could not fall in love with a circus princess.
And she was strictly controlled by her stepfather, the American, John Madison, and her mother, who did everything possible to prevent the love affair.

But their love deepened. They wrote passionate love letters to each other every day. When Sixten came to Sundsvall to get Elvira, she wrote in a farewell letter to her mother that if she did not come back she would be dead. Sixten had deserted from the army and Elvira defied her parents and ran away with him to Denmark. In Svendborg, on Fyn, they spent several passionate weeks together. When the sound of the pistol shots died away, their bodies lay there, still and close to each other in the beautiful summer landscape. They had left the world together.