AKNVAS founder and designer Christian Juul Nielsen on building his brand

Danish-born, New York-based designer Christian Jules Nielsen jumped on my Zoom call as he kneeled in preparation for New York Fashion Week. Behind him is a clothing rack of his own brand, which he probably founded in 2019. Nielsen vividly describes how devastated and grateful he is at this crucial time in his life. “I have been very lucky to always have a lot of support from the friends and industry people I met here in the United States,” says Nielsen. “I know I couldn’t put this down [runway show] Together if I don’t have them.

For those unfamiliar with AKNVAS, which hosts its first NYFW runway show on September 13th, the womenswear and menswear collections are minimalist and clean, punctuated by stunning cuts, graphics and colours. I am obsessed with aesthetics. Take, for example, a muted mauve blazer with bustier outlines from the Fall/Winter 2022 drop, or his gorgeous chunky knit sweater styled under an equally cozy quilted vest in bold shades of green. Look. Nielsen’s AKNVAS collections (there have been two so far) straddle the fine line between being overly trendy and actually wearable. “No one wants to look ridiculous [in their outfit]’” he says, referring to the fashion industry’s tendency to create avant-garde designs that look great on the runway and in the editorial but can fail on ready-to-wear racks. How can I make her look relevant and cool? How can I make her look as good as possible?”

In other words, AKNVAS pieces are not meant to reinvent the wheel, but pieces that will become a permanent and fun staple in your closet. Giving consumers what they need before we know what they want is second nature at Nielsen. Nielsen’s resume includes Christian Dior (John Galliano, who worked under Raf Simmons), Oscar de la Renta, Nina Ricci and Hervé Léger. Nielsen announced that in 2018 he would become the creative director of Herve Légers, absorbing responsibilities there in parallel with a request from AKNVAS.

When asked how he juggles designs for both labels, he bluntly replied that he still has it all figured out. “Quite a lot. I work almost every night until 10pm and now every weekend,” he says. “But you know what? Like I always say, I’d rather do this than party. Enjoying the process Where to enjoy [my journey] Is going. “

Ahead of Nielsen’s imminent catwalk debut, we’re unveiling the Spring/Summer 2023 collection. He looks back on his journey as a TZR designer, from the key moments of his career as a designer and creative at TZR to the importance of listening and creating. own heart.

What made you start AKNVAS?

when i was in paris [doing couture/ready-to-wear],I [always making] Great, balanced, cool stuff. I did what I thought was beautiful. But after coming to America, I learned how important the position of the merchandiser is.Even if I made something beautiful, I would come back and say, ‘This is too expensive, I used too much fabric. Embroidery off? Don’t tell me to change, this consistent theme of ‘money, money, money’ was getting so much attention in the US that I found myself without a merchandising team and where there were merchandisers. decided to start a brand of myself.

whether you like people [AKNVAS] both men and women Me i think they are great.i don’t want to make [clothes] All I know is that it will either become a bestseller and be on every rack, or [the pieces] Put it up for sale and make a profit from it. I want to create beautiful things and create brands that I think are modern and cool without anyone telling me what to do.

who AKNVAS Dresser?

For AKNVAS girls, [I ask myself] Given the situation, what would a girl in New York City look good wearing right now? what is she wearing How does she look relevant, cool and sexy?

What elements and experiences did you bring to AKNVAS from your previous roles?

You can see a lot of drape [in the Spring/Summer 2023 collection]They come from physically cutting fabrics, draping them, and creating dresses with a haute couture feel, but AKNVAS with a twist. We also handle Japanese cloth, [an experience I brought over to my label] From Raf Simons who loved this material.In terms of femininity and drama [in AKNVAS clothing], learned it from John Galliano. Raf taught me about making cool and edgy things with unexpected materials. [Simons].

Please tell us a memorable moment since you launched your own label.

One of the first dresses I made was a puff sleeve dress made from Japanese cotton and was part of my first AKNVAS collection. The first celebrity to wear it was Kate Bosworth, and the look went viral. I was very happy

Gotham/GC Images

Where do you get your design inspiration from?

In fashion, I think the important thing for AKNVAS is to relate to the time in which I live. When I first started the brand, I was very focused on what girls would wear while sitting in the office during the day. If she works in a space but her lifestyle doesn’t give her the chance to come home, shower and get ready before dinner. Run straight. It was exactly like that when the brand was first launched.

Then COVID hit and I started doing a lot with poplin and cotton. I started making oversized shirts, shirt dresses, cotton dresses and pants. After that, there was a time when I was allowed to go out again, and suddenly I wanted to do more party dresses. So I was like, ‘Why don’t you get these two married? [coupled] with the time we live in.i want [my collections] To reflect what is happening in the world and to represent the times in which we live. We now live in an era where we embrace color and embrace fancy dress, so I enjoy following this.

Are there common design/styling themes that gravitate toward AKNVAS?

i love everything from last season [from AKNVAS] You can style it according to the new season. We live in a world where sustainability matters, so being able to wear it again is important. Basically, you need to create a wardrobe for girls rather than elements that just pop in here and pop in there. I love incorporating shades of brown.

You said earlier that AKNVAS is a gender-neutral label. Could you explain why?

Look at the feminine and masculine shapes [when designing my collections]. How can I fit the two sides together? For example, the waist of the trousers has an elastic band so that it can be worn by both men and women.It’s easy for boys to be “thin” and wear women’s pants, but technically [if the garment is too fitted, this won’t work] So I’m trying to design some pieces that physically fit both boys and girls.

How are you feeling ahead of the first AKNVAS runway show at NYFW?

There’s a big difference between running your own show and running a NYFW show. [In my previous roles], it was just “Make it beautiful!” Let Christian drape the dresses and let the girls show you how to walk!” Now I am counting the dollars trying to figure out how to transport the collection from the studio to the physical venue. Who’s on the runway show and who’s getting their nails and hair done are the models wearing open-toed shoes.There are so many things to keep in mind that stress builds up when you are in charge [of every little detail]but I have wonderful people to help me.

What can fans expect from AKNVAS Spring/Summer 2023 collection?

This season, I thought a lot about how boys and girls can look good in New York City right now. There are many young customers, so I think, “If I go to a restaurant or a nightclub, what should I wear now to look good?”

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