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Chambres: Sensual femininity for a new normal
Text: Linnea Dunne | Photos: Ewa-Marie Johansson
What happens to fashion when the world grinds to a halt and the shops close? We’re in the midst of a global crisis, and only innovative, truly valuable businesses will survive. With creativity, simplicity and a commitment to intimate comfort, Chambres shows the way.
The streets are empty. Countless shops have closed, and airplanes are parked away and asleep. Covid-19 has left no one unaffected in her tracks, and the entire world has been brought almost to a standstill. The nations across the globe are taking a big, collective breath, asking: when will things go back to normal?
That’s if there still is any such thing as normal, a fact more and more people are starting to question. One of them is Li Edelkoort, one of the world’s most influential trend forecasters, who in an interview with Dezeen while in self-isolation talks about “a quarantine of consumption”, describing soon-empty shelves where once mass-produced shoes and clothes used to be. It’s a good point. We may not yet have come full circle with the acceptance of just how huge this shift will be. But soon, Edelkoort predicts, the impact will reach far beyond the stock levels of high-street fashion brands and into our homes, where “we will learn how to be happy with just a simple dress, rediscover old favourites we own, read a forgotten book and cook up a storm to make life beautiful”.
A wiser way
Meanwhile, a Swede with a past as the owner of a popular lifestyle salon in the heart of Stockholm, Sandra Näsström, is shaking off the world’s worries and creating a whole new normal – far from the norms of throw-away fashion and the shallow values so often associated with it. In fact, the creation of her lingerie loungewear brand, Chambres, was a result of the sheer comfort and feminine appeal of an underdress on the catwalk during a fashion show she organised years ago, which became so popular all the models wanted to wear one on their night out afterwards. Natalie, the underdress named after the model who wore it that night, is still one of Chambres’ best-sellers.
With luxuriously silky kimonos, dresses and loungewear, Chambres is all about that feeling: a sense of ease and feeling elegant and sensual even at home, when nobody’s watching. The natural fabrics are lush yet light, enclosing your body without restricting it. “I usually say that Chambres is like a second skin. Clothes should embrace you and make you relax and feel beautiful and sensual,” says Näsström.
The picture of a new normal starts to take shape, juxtaposing an old normal of the huge majority of products being made in China from oil-derived substances and selling on busy streets with in-your-face signs and posters. Näsström explains a model where everything is made in a handful of family-owned businesses throughout the Baltics – not because it’s cheaper that way, but because it’s safer and wiser, she says. “In an increasingly anxious world, it is wiser not to veer to far from home to find sustainable collaborations.”
Part of the Chambres approach is to make everything Easy Care/Easy Wear, making all garments comfortable and glamorous regardless of the context. A Capsule Collection concept means that four or five items should be enough to create a functional, enjoyable wardrobe; as such, many of the designs can be worn in a multitude of ways to make for flexibility and an element of renewal and surprise. Imagine a nightdress so beautiful and well-designed that you can pop over to the neighbour for a nightcap without changing? That’s Chambres in a nutshell.
Sensual femininity for the future
As early as in 2015, Chambres was nominated Designer of the Year by Habitat, but Näsström sees that the world has never been as ready for the concept as it is now. “There’s a great demand for elegance and sensual ease in 2020,” she says. “People appreciate easy-to-wear, comfortable garments that work anywhere, all the time. We call it ‘loungerie’, like lingerie that’s stepped out of the bedroom.”
In Näsström’s native Sweden, Chambres is represented at the high-end department store Nordiska Kompaniet (NK) in both Stockholm and Gothenburg, and as of this autumn, the brand will also start a collaboration with the suitably renowned boutique Ströms in the capital. But the sensual femininity of the garments is loved and esteemed far beyond Sweden’s borders, with celebrities including Mariah Carey and Petra Marklund among known fans. “We’ve been told that Tilda Swinton’s boyfriend received one of our kimonos when it was sent to the actress as a gift from a friend, and said ‘Well Tilda, you ain’t getting this beauty back’ and kept it for himself!” Sandra smiles. “True or not, boyfriends and children alike have been known to fall for the luxurious fabric.”
What defines success in a post-coronavirus world? Perhaps values that survive when we close the door and stop the rushed, mindless living are at the heart of it. Perhaps, in the words of Edelkoort, there’s something to the luxurious simplicity of learning to be happy just with a simple dress…
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