The Weather Diaries at the American Swedish Institute

West Nordic fashion on display at the American Swedish Institute

Ena With Eyes Shut, 2014, Designer: Nikolaj Kristensen

photos by cooper & gorfer

When I moved to Minnesota from the West Coast more than two decades ago, I fell in love with the lakes, the Cities, the culture. But it also didn’t take me long to notice another distinction between the North and warmer climates: the sheer amount of time we spend bundled against the cold, our bodies hidden out of sight and our fashion choices subsumed by the necessity of survival.

Then I figured out it wasn’t all bad. Over time you come to appreciate the nuances of parka design. The indoor puffer vest makes a certain statement of defiance and resilience. And my neighbor who dressed in shorts year-round? What could I say? I’d never seen a bolder example of mind over matter. 

The people who live in Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands can presumably relate. The region, generally referred to as West Nordic, is home to a centuries-old culture marked by tides of migration and the ever-present influence of some of the more forbidding winters in the habitable world.

The Feather Portrait, 2014, Designer: Steinunn

A pair of Swedish artists traveled to the region on assignment to explore West Nordic fashion and attempt to understand its cultural roots, and the extraordinary show they curated, “The Weather Diaries,” comes to the American Swedish Institute this spring. Eleven original installations show the work of designers from the region—their imaginative couture combines furs, feathers, and other natural elements with the necessary utility that comes from living in a climate that could kill its inhabitants. A short film documents the artists’ efforts to meet these designers and catalog their work.

“The Weather Diaries” will undoubtedly spark dialogue and inspiration among designers in the North. We’ll continue to need major skin coverage and insulation in the winter months, but there’s plenty of room for innovation and creativity (writes a man who wears a featureless black parka and sometimes considers putting another one on top of it).

“The Weather Diaries—Greenland, Iceland, and Faroe Islands: An Artistic Investigation Into Identity From the North”
Through July 2
The American Swedish Institute

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