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We’ve all heard the saying “art imitates life,” and Denmark native Nikoline Liv Andersen is creating wearable art that transforms life as we know it and pushes it to colorful extremes. Crafting pieces that are equal parts high fashion and visual art, Nikoline’s intricate creations are more likely to be found in a modern art museum than on a runway. That doesn’t make her work any less exciting, and unequivocally proves that fashion is, in itself, an art form.
Nikoline Liv Andersen graduated in 2006 from The Danish Design School with a degree in clothing design. Her passions did not lie in pursuing a career in commercial fashion like so many of her peers. Instead, she focused her attention on experimental clothing design. Her work unites design, crafts, and art in a way that is both whimsical and breathtaking. Her clothing designs have even become constituent parts of three-dimensional sculptural installations. Her work is inspired by the way she sees the world, leading her to play upon opposing themes such as the meaning of life and fantasy versus reality. Life-sized dolls, highly decorated wigs, and decorative monkey heads are made glamorous with the addition of beautifully tailored garments that could easily rival any couture designer. Nikoline’s artistic identity shines through in everything she creates. She considers it a great point of pride that her work urges people to think outside the box and challenge their ideas about beauty and the human experience.
For the deeply introspective Nikoline, the meanings behind her works of art are equally as important as the aesthetic. She creates stories for every piece, giving each creation it’s own identity and significance. Strangely, Nikoline’s objective is not to have each piece easily understood by the viewer, but instead to inspire people to be introspective and find their own meanings in her work. Her garments are not meant to be worn, allowing her more room to create and work within various medias while not being restricted by practicality. She prefers her work be viewed not as clothing, but as think-pieces.
When Nikoline begins a project, she starts by writing a story or a poem that reflects the message she wants to convey. She is deeply influenced by the world’s ethical problems, and through her work she expresses her own mixture of emotions. Though her work is hauntingly beautiful, it is unique in it’s ability to be simultaneously feminine, grotesque, sad, and playful. Winner of the Gold Award at Remix 2014 in the “Pimp my Coat” category, which found her experimenting with the use of fur, Nikolene is well aware that she could have a career in commercial fashion design. Instead, she follows her artistic heart. And she’s winning at it.
It’s obvious Nikoline’s creations that they are labors of love. Crafting such highly detailed, three dimensional, work is a time consuming process. Her love of experimenting with new fabrics and techniques typically leads her to spend hours on even the smallest details. The amount of time spent to finish a piece is of no consequence to Nikoliene Liv Andersen. To her, the process is equally as important as the finished product. Her dedication to her craft and the long hours spent on creative detail is evident in pieces such as the gown made of 45,000 straws.
Nikoline is constantly seeking what she calls “the magical moment” of inspiration. Fabrics, lace, thread, yarn, fur, beads, sequins, leather, paint, plastic and even nails are not merely decoration, but a necessary part of the story that her garments are telling. In an era where popularity and media hype can often overshadow true talent, Nikoline has found her place in the art world, where her work is not only appreciated but embraced.
Had Nikoline decided on a career in fashion design, perhaps she would have her own clothing line that would be taking the world by storm. Maybe she would be working for a major couture line and living the quiet, yet lucrative life many designers have dreamt of since childhood. Instead, Nikolene found her own path that allowed her to fuse her interests and strengths into strange, beautiful masterpieces. Garments so special they must be viewed in galleries and museums. And for all of her dedication and creative integrity, I believe that is exactly where Nikoline Liv Andersen’s work belongs.