I was an art history major in college and began my career at museums before working at Conde Nast Publications in the late 80′s. Looking back, my obsession with art was largely fashion based– I could stare at the clothes and jewelry in an Ingres portrait for hours. And by the same token, fashion those days was more about art, as people were not paid to wear clothes. Sofia, in her Art Nouveau romantic dresses and layers of textures and patterns, sends my visual senses into a happy orbit, similar to that of my art history and early fashion days. I don’t know whether I want to paint her portrait or run to the vintage store to find something similar to her flea market sequin red and black floral dress (that someone said looks like her mother’s curtain), because the romantic way she wears sequins makes me think I could wear them too. Looking at the confident way Sofia composes everything that she wears, balancing her long dresses with piles of Indian wooden bangles, scarves wrapped over her head and some kind of exotic shoe like her chinese wooden wedges, it’s not a surprise that she has a masters degree in Fashion History. In fact, Sofia has found a way to have a career that combines her love for the academic side of art and culture with the practical world, as an exhibition designer and fashion curator. She recently archived the monumental Alexander McQueen show for The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Sofia sees dressing and fashion as a part of art and I love how she inspires others in the way that she wants to be inspired herself. Like her own mix of vintage, indigenous and inherited clothes, she is drawn to things when they tell a story about the past and help her to understand something she didn’t understand before. Or in her words, how closely connected material objects are to what a culture or people are saying on a deeper level. As an example, her desire to never wear jeans and to always wear her mother’s decorative medallion stone necklaces, can be as illuminating as how the Swedish avant-garde was created as a reaction to its heavily folkloric traditions (which was the subject of one of Sofia’s exhibitions). Martin Margiela is another great inspiration to her for the spider web of thoughts in his collections, Sofia states. It took her two weeks to understand what he stands for when Sofia was working on a retrospective on him at The Mode Museum in Antwerp.
In order to be a good curator of how a culture adorns itself, Sofia travels to and studies many different countries– it’s like social anthropology, she says. She is possessed by how, through her exhibits, she can highlight the juxtapositions in society and understand the collective thinking and soul of a society. What Sofia loves about fashion is the way in which someone can visually awaken her by dressing the body in an experimental way, or how one can create surprising themes, shapes, crafts, patterns, cuts, colours or techniques that help her to understand something that she didn’t understand before. In her antique Chinese silk pastel robe over a floral pastel dress, with a leopard shawl from Africa, artistry and vision is what Sofia brings to the all to homogeneity of today’s fashion world.