10 Random Questions With Ostwald Helgason

Like, well, one of my best friends, I first met Ingvar Helgason in a dive bar in Paris. Over the years, I’ve watched his line Ostwald Helgason grow bigger and bigger as he’s seen me look more and more ridiculous, so meeting up in Studio 1 to watch him prep for his presentation was pretty classic. There’s something rather satisfying about watching your friend blow up, and to be honest, I can’t be more proud of how far he’s come. Despite the fact that two hours before a presentation is the worst possible time to ask designers anything, Ingvar and his partner Susanne Ostwald took a few minutes off to let me ask them 10 questions. In case you don’t want to read any further, let me make one thing clear—they rule.

Question No. 1 — So what the fuck’s up?

Ingvar Helgason: [laughs] That’s a good question. Ask us in an hour and we’ll tell you. Right now we’re just trying to tie up loose ends and there seems to be more than usual.

Question No. 2: Why are you doing this?

Susan Ostwald: We’re really crap at everything else.

IH: We were figuring it out actually today. We were watching this video on YouTube of a hamster running on a wheel, and it stopped running and got thrown out really fast. We’re the hamster on the wheel, and we’re just trying to stay on and not get thrown off.

Mike Abu: [To Susan] Is that what you think?

SO: Definitely. Whoo, nature! [laughs]

Question No. 3: What’s your inspiration for this season’s line?

SO: It’s a celebration. We’ve been together for 10 years this year, and we wanted to celebrate with a collection of balloon animals, flowers and happiness.

IH: Happy stuff.

MA: That’s awesome.

[They just laughed and made me feel lonely.]

Question No. 4: This is an individualized question for both of you—what city is your favorite bar in?

SO: I think it’s New York and Schillers. I always have a fun time there. They make great cocktails.

IH: Mine, I would have to say… I don’t know man. My friend Magnus dragged me out after last year’s presentation to some random bar, I have no idea where it was, but it seemed like everybody was there and I think it was my favorite bar. I don’t know where it was.

MA: So your favorite bar is that one you don’t remember?

IH: Yep.

MM: That eliminates the need to ask my next question.

IH: What was it?

MA: Why?


Question No. 6: Do you decide what the hair and makeup looks like?

IH: We have some input to it. We tend to work with the stylists and figure out what works with the clothes.

SO: We sort of want something fresh, young and easy going. I like it natural with a dash of fun, or color…

IH: Exactly.

Question No. 7: How directly does fashion week translate into sales?

IH: Extremely. When we started doing presentations in New York, things just kind of….

SO: Took off.

IH: Yeah, it’s just the visibility. Milk is kind of the thing. Nobody knew who we were until they came in to see the presentation, and they saw it and they liked it, and we’re very lucky.

SO: It’s a beautiful way to tell a story, to have a room that is the collection—it’s so much stronger.

MA: It’s interesting to see how buzz can turn into numbers.

IH: Definitely, it translates into stores and from stores to customers.

MA: Cool, wait you’re from where exactly?

SO: I’m from Germany and Ingvar is from Iceland.

MA: Well, then you might not know any of these references. Maybe you do—it’s a basketball thing. Basketball is a big thing around here, so, let me ask you…

Question No. 8: Magic Johnson or John Stockton?


IH: I don’t know.

SO: I don’t know.

IH: I have no idea.

SO: Magic Johnson sounds great.

IH: Right?

MA: Wrong answer.

[They laugh. By the way, John Stockton is the greatest point guard who ever played the game. If anybody ever tries to tell you any different, know they know nothing.]

Question No. 9: What do you like about presenting at Milk?

SO: Everything.

IH: It’s the people. Jenné, Keith, Rassi—the whole team here. Everything is so much more laid back than you would see at any other venue. They make it all seem so easy and they welcome you with open arms.

SO: Super friendly.

IH: Super friendly!

MA: Super friendly…

IH: Exactly, it’s amazing and it’s the best place to show, period. It feels like coming home.

Question No. 10: So now you’ve been together for a decade, and this show is a celebration of that happiness. All I want to know is, how often do you get into fights over designing?

IH: Oh my god…

SO: Actually the only time we get into fights is over design. As soon as we start designing, the fights start…

IH: And then it’s non-stop until the show starts. It’s a hamster wheel. [laughs]

Photos by Drew Levin and Hannah Hughes

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