With Scandinavian heritage mixed with French design, Cecilie Bahnsen’s relaxed, timeless style lends itself to the modern woman breaching the intersection of ready-to-wear and couture. The brand is going from strength to strength. Cecilie Bahnsen first teamed up with Positive Luxury in September 2019 and has since undergone two assessments, most recently passing the ESG+ framework to earn Butterfly Mark re-certification in March 2023. We catch up with Founder and Creative Director, Cecilie Bahnsen, on her design process, inspirations and how she embeds circularity not only into her collections but also her business model through partnerships and ambassador work.
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Hi Cecilie! When did you start your namesake brand and can you tell us a bit about how it all began?
After completing my studies and gaining work experience in Paris and London, I returned to Copenhagen in 2015 to launch my eponymous label. I had known for years that I wanted to create my own brand. I love designing not just the fabric and garments in the collection, but the entire universe and the story that surrounds it. I wanted to tell a story of a new kind of femininity, that embraces romance and whimsy, always grounded with a sense of ease.
In terms of your design process, how to you approach this and where do you take your inspiration from?
I have a true love for the touch of hand, so everything is developed from scratch. Our design process often involves taking classic techniques and using them in unexpected ways, giving them our unique touch. We always use the collection from the previous season as a starting point. Considering what we’ve created that we really love and how can we push this further and evolve it for the next collection. In this sense way, there is a timelessness to our collections. You can effortlessly pair pieces from this season with pieces from four seasons ago.
Your Encore collection used upcycled materials from previous collection offcuts and materials, when did this begin and why do you think it’s important to continue to find ways of reducing waste in your designs?
Since starting Cecilie Bahnsen, I have always thought about our fabrics as being precious, never to be discarded. Encore launched in 2020, amid the pandemic, with the idea to create something new out of what we already had in our studio. Encore just felt right, so we’ve continued to expand upon the concept since its launch. As an industry, we have a responsibility for the impact that our products and operations have on our planet and our people. We still have a long way to go, but we believe both small and big steps towards responsibility are essential.
You have been partnering with Asics on exclusive collections too, can you tell us a bit about this? How do the two brands collide?
With ASICS it has always been about movement, motion and mindfulness – having fun and ease. Initially we presented a selection of up-cycled trainers at the SS23 Runway Show at Paris Fashion Week, where we carefully embellished the trainers with couture elements to complement each individual shoe. All handmade in our Copenhagen studio, bringing a touch of couture craftsmanship into the everyday. Since then, we have introduced two additional capsules of embellished trainers with a full larger scale collaboration launching this summer.
In 2023 you became an ambassador for Nona Source, what was it about that programme that made you want to be involved?
Partnering with Nona Source felt like a natural decision. Nona Source is an LVMH–backed fabric resale platform that “re-sources” luxury fabrics from the house’s Maisons. Beyond reducing waste, this also creates an interesting creative challenge for us to experiment with new techniques to manipulate fabrics and re-invent them in the Cecilie Bahnsen way.
Looking forward, what is your immediate focus for creating positive change as a brand?
We continue to explore new ways of implementing circular approaches in our business model, ensuring our products are worn and cherished for as long as possible. In addition, we are working to increase the traceability and information available to our customers about our products and their lifecycle.
Finally, how has working with Positive Luxury and earning Butterfly Mark certification changed or informed your approach to your sustainability journey?
We are proud to have been certified with the Butterfly Mark for a second time and for the ongoing collaboration with Positive Luxury. This process has challenged us greatly to look inwards assessing how we do things and has encouraged us to look at the different areas of the business that could use improvement.
LEARN MORE ABOUT BUTTERFLY MARK CERTIFIED CECILIE BAHNSEN