Scandalnavia: The Great Danes are coming to the UK

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A Smorgas-Borgen of Danish culture is Copen-hagen well in Great Britain…

It started with The Killing – our obsession, as a nation, with all things Danish. Despite its depiction of gloomy Scandinavian skies, grisly murders and having the tongue-twisting, impenetrable language to contend with, there was something about Sarah Lund and her fair-isle sweater that captured the common imagination of the UK. But that’s old news. The latest to take hold of our TV screens, and indeed our sartorial attention, is a programme crafted by the same production team responsible for Lund & Co that anchors tales of political intrigue and media manipulation this time around two female leads, Birgitte Nyborg, Denmark’s first (fictional) Prime Minister, and Katrine Fonsmark, a journalist and presenter on news channel TV1. The programme takes us out of the gritty sphere of stylish knitwear and macabre murder and instead transports us into the glossier realm of slick Danish design. The whole show is saturated in the quietly stylish aesthetic that has come to be characteristic of the country: clean lines, functional, minimal furniture complemented by considered, quirky details. Those lampshades!  The unstuffy interiors of Parliament! Modern art in the PM’s office! If Borgen teaches us one thing, it’s that it’s possible to covet a whole nation’s aesthetic identity. Because Borgen doesn’t just engage us with it’s gripping plot – it engages us with a serious case of life envy.

It’s life envy, rather than merely looks envy that the show provokes because it is so subtly drawn. The bookshelves lining the walls of Birgitte’s stylish townhouse tell us as much, if not more, about her than what she wears. And we have as much of a crush on Katrine’s desk – and it is a dream desk, scattily covered in clippings, memos and other tidbits of life as a high-flying career woman – as we do on her collection of swish, smart coats or the perfect, Scando ice-blonde shade of her hair.

It’s refreshing that neither Birgitte nor Katrine are the stereotypical or superficial glamazons our screens are so well-acquainted with: Birgitte struggles to squeeze into her old dresses and Katrine favours past-the-knee bell-shaped skirts to skintight body-con numbers. But we admire them all the more for their understated approach to dressing. Women want to be them not because they’re clad in the latest labels but because they’re women who stoically know their own style and, more importantly, their own minds. Birgitte sticks to a core wardrobe consisting of dark trench coats, skirt suits and sophisticated chignons: simple, chic, and enviably well coiffed without appearing fussy. And while we’re more likely to see Katrine in slightly less structured ensembles – think blazers with a twist, in unexpected fabrics like velvet and muted butterscotch tones, buttoned-up shirts that are slightly less tailored than those favoured by the PM, and even the occasional scruffy ponytail, there’s still no chance of spying her in low-cut tops or scandalously short skirts. Because what Borgen proves is that the most sexy characteristic any female can possess is a strong sense of self. Birgitte and Katrine aren’t trussed up tarts: they’re fierce, intelligent and equal to men around them, and everything about their carefully and artfully constructed world serves to express it.

HOW TO DRESS LIKE A DANE 

Statement Coats

Unsurprisingly, with Nordic weather comes the need for a coat that’ll withstand far too many minus degrees celcius. Mannish tailoring and cocoon shapes are most popular amongst today’s trendy style mavens.

Androgyny

Slouchy trousers, shirt dresses and boyish shoe-boots are all de rigeur with the dansk females. Make sure you button up right to the collar for the ultimate smart-casual balance.

The Dark Side

For a nation often characterised by their contemporary, clean vibe, it’s no surprise that Danes (like Borgen’s Katrine) tend opt for a classic colour palette: black, navy, white, and grey and all Scando staples.

Stalk it

If you’re more of a hipster Oh Land-alike and are more at home in the world of arthouse magazines than the houses of parliament, check out thelocals.dk for the best of Danish street-style, and Dansk Magazine (danskmagazine.com), featuring the best of Danish beauty clad in the best of Danish design – we’re a little bit in love with the feline features of model of the moment Josephine Skriver. If you need any more persuading that Denmark’s the coolest country in Europe, the enthusiastically entitled blog fuckyeahdenmark-.tumblr.com/ will provide you with short, sweet photographic snippets of life in Hamlet’s homeland.

Shop it

Our very own Kate Middleton experimented with Danish power dressing when she debuted a Malene Birger shift-dress on her Canadian tour. But for more student-friendly style? Cult brand Samsoe og Samsoe offers the best of Danish style in their oh-so-wearable, carefully distilled collections. (samsoe.com) Even more exciting is the September-planned opening of a London branch Wood Wood, the Danish concept store (woodwood.dk). And if you’re still lusting after a Sarah Lund-style fair-isle sweater, Gudrun & Gurdun (gudrungudrun.com) are your go-to knitwear purveyors.

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