It is a bubbly and boisterous place, the creative mind of Martin Bergström. Originally, and still, a fashion designer, his ingenuity takes him from cabbages to space whores, from decomposing materials to forgotten handicraft techniques. Maybe this is why he cannot confine himself to the world of fashion but has applied his imagination to hotel interiors, furniture, print, theatre, uniforms, stage clothing, illustrations, styling and commercial work.
Educated at Konstfack University College of Arts Crafts and Design in Stockholm and Universität der Kunste in Berlin – he graduated with an M.A. in Textiles in 2005 – Bergström has an artistic outlook when it comes to fashion, only producing small collections of made-to-order garments in the finest, and often rare, materials, like the leathery silk used in the Curtain Uncertain collection of 2009 or the heavy, fur-like boiled woll from 2010’s Garden of Doom.
Organic shapes, playfulness and couture-like sewing techniques – sometimes from the time when fine textiles were a rare commodity – merge together in the work of Martin Bergström, resulting in clothes which marry restraint and artistic freedom, creating a dramatic tension. Despite the kaleidoscopic quality of the clothes, often with wild prints and colours, there’s also a feeling of something held-back and reigned in.
The collections always have a strong narrative, for example, Garden of Doom tells the story of Ingrid, who had to move away from her garden because she was too old. Add sexy cabbage and UFO hookers to that and another side of Martin Bergström emerges, the often camp and hilarious way of conceptualising the clothes.
The ability to tell a story, together with excellent craftsmanship and an unbridled imagination has landed him many commissions from outside of the fashion world. He made prints for boutique hotel Berns in Stockholms and for the upmarket furniture brand Carl Malmsten he decorated sofas with a pattern referred to by Bergström as ‘UFO ant’.
But it is the clothes which are at the centre of his creative life. Bergström regards the collections as a kind of exhibition, the garments themselves being his ‘paintings’ and the textiles his ‘paint’. In this manner he has managed to find a place in an industry which he is critical of, questioning the throw-away culture of modern fast fashion and resisting it through centuries-old construction techniques.
To purchase Martin Bergstöms illustrations