Winners for the 2013 Grapevine Design Awards were announced on Friday last week. For the first time ever, Grapevine awarded best fashion design too, and the award went to… Ostwald Helgason!

The Grapevine Jury:

Ostwald Helgason are strong pattern and print makers. Their cuts are fantastic and colours excellent. Each collection is a holistic entity of its own. Everything else around the label is done in an equally impressive and professional way, from sales to fashion shows. We have nothing but praise for Ostwald Helgason, and we are proud of their international success. In a short time the label has developed quickly, and we, along with the rest of the fashion world, cannot wait to see what happens next.

Founded by Susanne Ostwald from Leipzig and Ingvar Helgason from Reykjavik, the London-based label is the rising star of the international fashion scene.

We caught up with Ingvar Helgason for a little chat:

How did Ostwald Helgason start?

I met Susan when we were both working at Marjan Pejoski [known for iconic the swan dress worn by Björk in particular]. We thought it would be fun to do something together, and went on to start Ostwald Helgason in 2006. It was a bit of a naïve move to begin with, as we didn’t really know what we were doing. It took a couple of years before we actually started to do things right. I think the initial reason for setting up the label is that I never really felt like working for someone else for a longer period of time.

What is great fashion design in your opinion?

I look at young designers working incredibly hard and effort and level of intention that goes into their collections. You can see the amount of work clearly in the collections.


The path to success is rarely direct. Are there any funny stories from the history of the project, 
things going terribly wrong, lessons learnt the hard way?

I didn’t know how to deal with the VAT in the UK, so we lost 17% of the sales in our first season – so that was definitely a lesson, and you certainly learn from shit like that. We are working with so many manufacturers all over the world and every season, there is such a long list of things that go wrong. It’s about putting down fires and making sure they wont influence the final outcome too much.

You have been based in London for quite a while. How does Icelandic fashion design look to you?

I love what people do in Iceland, and have been a huge fan of Mundi for a long time. Then there’s Eyglo, REY and quite a few others… There are obvious issues, too, such as importing taxes for samples and such that make the designers’ work difficult.

Also take a look at the coverage over at Grapevine’s side: Link.

Images of AW12, SS13, RST13 courtesy of Ostwald Helgason