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Photo: Krista Schlueter
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By Malene Birger: About the new campaign shot on a Greek island, Mediterranean vacations, and the ease of existence

In light of the launch of the campaign for the Spring/Summer 2024 collection of one of the most influential Scandinavian brands, By Malene Birger, we spoke with the Creative Director, Maja Dixdotter, and the CEO, Ellen Dixdotter

by Tina Lončar

March 22, 2024

In 2020, on the unpredictable journey called life, the paths of sisters Maja and Ellen Dixdotter intersected with the Danish brand By Malene Birger, marking the beginning of a new chapter for one of the most significant Scandinavian fashion labels. The brand’s core, characterized by sophisticated monochromatic minimalism—a pillar of Scandinavian aesthetics—was revitalized under the vision of the Dixdotter sisters. Since its inception in 2003 by designer Malene Birger, the brand’s DNA has shone anew, enriched with what they call “bohemian ease” and the occasional unexpected twist.

By Malene Birger’s fashion narrative has been enveloped in a cloak of effortless femininity, warmth, and a hint of irresistible escapism. The meticulous craftsmanship, thoughtful design, and unwavering commitment to quality in every aspect, along with a focus on comfort and functionality, and time-defying silhouettes, have positioned the Danish brand as a synonym for low-key luxury on the global fashion scene. Maja Dixdotter, the brand’s creative director, has infused the entire story with an artistic touch, her personal daydreams, a love for the beauty born out of creativity, and a pinch of emotion. This is evident in the latest Spring/Summer 2024 campaign, captured through the lens of Suzanne Koller on the picturesque Greek island of Hydra, an artistic haven in the midst of the Aegean Sea. Alongside the collection that dives into an unburdened, summery state of mind and the ease of existence under the warm Mediterranean sun, in a place where time moves slower, the campaign is personified by Malgosia Bela, the renowned Polish model and actress who found her home on the enchanting Hydra.

By Malene Birger SS24
By Malene Birger, Spring/Summer 2024, Photo: Suzanne Koller
By Malene Birger SS24

When I look at By Malene Birger’s current spring/summer collection, I can almost feel the summer breeze in my hair and the warm Mediterranean sun on my skin. It instantly transports me to my happy place: an island in the middle of the sea where I feel happiest and life somehow seems easier. Were you inspired by that sense of ease?

That’s precisely the feeling I aimed for, and yes, absolutely, that ease was something I wanted to emphasize in the collection! My goal for the Spring/Summer collections is always to evoke a sense of freshness. However, for Spring/Summer 2024, I specifically envisioned vacations in the Mediterranean. Picture a woman crossing a piazza, lounging on the terrace of an old stone villa overlooking the ocean, lots of black and white, a wide-brimmed sunhat, leisurely lunches, and slow living… I was contemplating the importance of relaxation; the sensation of soft, natural fabrics against your skin; and effortless kaftans and co-ordinating items offset with more dressed-up pieces you might wear out to dinner (although likely with wet hair after a day at the beach).

What I find so summery about the collection are the silhouettes that free the body, allowing it to breathe and enjoy life without having to think about clothes. What feeling did you have in mind while creating the collection? How did you want the woman wearing your designs to feel?

I want women wearing our designs, no matter which collection that is, to feel comfortable, conscious and strong – all captured in the universe of a bohemian type of minimalism. Luxurious fabrics, impeccable details, and a consistency in styles that create a subtle and uncompromised attitude that feels feminine and warm.

By Malene Birger SS24
By Malene Birger SS24

By Malene Birger’s Spring/Summer campaign is set on the picturesque Greek island of Hydra. Why did you choose Hydra, and what makes it so unique?

We’re always thinking about how we can portray our collections in creative and coherent ways that go hand in hand with the contemporary bohemian that is By Malene Birger. We didn’t want to feature some glitzy island in the campaign, we wanted a place that communicated low-key luxury, and that stood for something more creative and culturally diverse. I think the idea was originally suggested a couple of years ago by Jennie Lind, our Marketing & Communications Director, who has been visiting the island since she was a child, and whose family has a home there.The next link was Suzanne Koller, who we’ve been working with for a few seasons now, who visited Hydra for vacation and loved it. Around that time, we were also talking about doing another campaign with the Polish model Malgosia Bela, who we feel is the perfect embodiment of By Malene Birger – and who lives on the island. When I think about it, it felt like everything was pointing to Hydra from a very early stage! Even the small coincidences: Suzanne was on holiday in Hydra and it turned out she was renting the neighbouring house to Jennie’s family home. Malgosia has lived there since a few years back, the laidback but luxurious bohemian vibe that it has to it. .. and for me, the idea of shooting the campaign there was really exciting, as I was still in the sketching phase for the Spring 24 collection when these conversations were happening, so I designed it specifically with Hydra in mind. The collection is very summery and light, with clean, crisp shapes offset with more textured fabrics. I also ended up including more pastel shades, which feels new for us – but it seemed to work.

By Malene Birger SS24
By Malene Birger SS24

The beautiful Malgosia Bela is the star of your campaign. Could you share more about her influence and role as the star in the new By Malene Birger collection, and how her presence contributes to the overall vision and aesthetic of the designs?

I love working with models that are not too young. Malgosia is 46, she’s a mother, she knows what she likes, she’s calm and she has lived. It’s about what she stands for. She’s an amazing person, smart and so confident in herself that she doesn’t need to try too hard. Suzanne (Koller) is also like that. Some women just have that extra strength, that extra something. This was the second time that we worked together and it was so nice to really spend time with her, and become closer than just doing anothershoot together then all going home. She’s amazing, really the epitome of the By Malene Birger woman. The shoot became a highly personal experience and the result is a series of intimate portraits that are infused with feminine creativity.

Let’s discuss materials and textures. How did they contribute to the overall look and feel you aimed to achieve?

The collection is big on texture, and I focused a lot on the edges of garments – braided and tasselled trims, raw edges, fringes. Most of the fabrics are natural fibres, which is always our priority at By Malene Birger, but it’s even more important in the summertime when it’s hot, and you want to be wearing something breathable. The silhouette is long and loose, defined by roomy kaftan shapes and cape details which are further explored for summer after featuring in the fall and pre-spring collections. The colour palette is quite earthy and Mediterranean. I wanted to work with black and white contrasts this season, with some neutral shades of nutmeg and beige, then energising “pops” of pink and green.

What I love about By Malene Birger is the philosophy of women dressing for themselves, which is so empowering. Were you always dressing for yourself? Do you have a female figure in your life who influenced your approach to fashion and dressing up?

I believe my style and artistry in that sense has always leaned towards the more bohemian, feminine side of how to dress and express yourself, and I believe it has been and still is very much visible in what I do. I try to do what I like and not what trends to tell us to like. I love the idea of a wardrobe and that we’re establishing signatures and updating them – that a change in color or fabric can sometimes be enough.Fashion should be fun and not be taken too seriously. It should make you feel confident and ready – give you choices for whatever you wish to pursue. My absolute go to when it comes to inspiration is vintage and flea markets. When travelling for work (or pleasure) I always make sure to have some time to visit or source old and new spots for finding treasures. Besides that Pinterest, I collect lots and lots of images, and often also my very cool friends, my sisters Ellen and Lisa, whom I also have the big pleasure to work with!

By Malene Birger SS24
By Malene Birger SS24

I know sustainability is a topic that everyone asks you about, but it’s incredibly important right now. I know you’re downsizing your collections and using deadstock and organic materials. What other practices have you incorporated into the process of making your collections?

Exactly, we have downsized the collections a lot – that was basically the first thing that we did when embarking on this journey approximately 4 years ago and as I mentioned, above, we always try to use natural fibres, moving away from using synthetic materials that come from fossil-fuel-derived resources. We try wherever possible to use monofibres, as these are easier to recycle when the garment eventually comes to the end of its life. The SS24 collection makes use of silk, wool, leather, and linen, amongst others, and these are chosen using our “Preferred Fibres” tool, which helps us to make more responsible decisions. Some of these fibres are third- party certified to ensure that the material is produced in line with certain social and environmental standards. For instance, we use certified wool, and leather from Leather Working Group (LWG) approved tanneries. We are working on our annual responsibility report at the moment, and while we are not perfect, our priority continues to be analysing, learning and improving.

Looking ahead, what excites you the most about By Malene Birger’s future, and are there any upcoming projects you could share with Vogue Adria readers?

Well lots of nice projects are coming up… I’m currently finalizing the next pre-spring which is coming together really nicely – very proud of what we have achieved here! We have very ambitious growth plans for the year to come with some new exciting locations for retail being explored and we will during the summer months, from June 1st to August last, continue the Hydra project with a very chic little pop up on the island. And personally, we just bought a new house, so I’m very much looking forward to creating a new home for me and my family.


Photo: Suzanne Koller