Stylist Edda Gudmundsdottir, who grew up in Reykjavik, describes her approach to her work in almost her only personal interview for Dazed with the Icelandic word «Alaeta». «Basically, it means you eat everything, and that’s how I feel about fashion. I look everywhere», she explains.
This is readily apparent in her work, including with Bjork. Together they style her images at concerts and on red carpets, album visuals and looks in music videos. They use couture dresses by Balmain and custom dresses by Pierpaolo Piccioli, and look for little-known designers who fit their vision: this was the case with the Ukrainian brand Paskal and designer Jisoo Baik.
DTF Magazine was able to talk with Edda by email. We asked her for an interview on the eve of the release of Bjork’s album Fossora, but it took us three months to get answers. Edda showed the results of her work on the visuals for the new album: the looks for the tour of Bjork in South America, the images of the singer for three music videos as well as three covers for NME, Pitchfork and Another Magazine. Edda also dressed AVA MAX in Versace, Coach and Loewe during fashion week and styled a shoot for Hero Magazine.
In an DTF Magazine interview, Edda tells about her years of collaboration with Bjork, styling in the Metaverse, transforming the work of a stylist, and shares her own principles of storytelling through clothing
— You’ve been doing ballet since you were a child, and now you sometimes style dance shows. What is the place of dance in your life?
— Through ballet I learned discipline and deepened my understanding of the human body and how clothing can enhance a dancer’s movements.
When I went into fashion, it was a way of rebelling against my years in ballet.
I initially moved away from that world entirely, but then, by accident, got reunited with dance companies and, by then it gave me great pleasure knowing how to apply my knowledge of fashion and combine my two passions.
Edda worked as a dancer after moving abroad from Reykjavik. She stylized shoots and fashion shows in New York, but later returned to dance as a stylist. Edda collaborated with Ballet of Difference and Rambert2.
The stylist suggested dressing the dancers in Cottweiler for their Grey Matter debut production: the design duo created costumes inspired by a brain biopsy.
«I explained the subject matter of the piece to my frequent collaborator Edda Gudmundsdottir and she suggested Cottweiler, — Rambert2 artistic director Benoit Swan Pouffer recalls in an interview with i-D. – I was fascinated by the depth of their research and saw echoes in my own process. My dancers are young, they’re urban and when you wear Cottweiler, you feel cool».
— Who was your first customer for your stylist job and what was the order?
— My first client was working with the hair company Redken. My very dear friend and fairy godmother from Iceland, Elsa Haraldsdottir, had recruited me as a child to pose as a hair model for her. Then I graduated to choreographer and finally to stylist. Elsa worked internationally with Redken and hired me to work with the brand on their shows and photo shoots and then Redken started hiring me for other projects they were doing and little by little I got more experience and other clients.
Principles of fashion storytelling
— You’ve said that you like to tell stories through clothes the most. How did this manifest itself at the beginning of your career and how does it manifest itself now, I mean, how has your technique of storytelling through clothes transformed?
— My work, whether it’s a magazine photo shoot or music video shoot, typically starts with a theme. These themes have characters, each with their own individual stories, and my job is to express the characters through their wardrobes. Over the years, I’ve developed a rich rainbow of tools that help me accomplish that.
— What are the three main components on which your work as a stylist is based?
— Inspiration or Imagination, sourcing and styling. I also would add management and the importance of teamwork. It takes a village to get each job done.
Together with her team, Edda works on creating looks for different spheres. Edda has styled fashion week shows particularly for Chromat, Noir Kei Ninomiya and Cottweiler, and in 2018 she appeared on the runway at the Kaimino show. She has also worked with videos — she created Imagine Dragons looks for the music video Natural, dressed Nicki Minaj in her signature barbiecore look, and created a wardrobe in the style of Hollywood’s golden age for Taylor Swift’s music video.
Edda has styled Mariah Carey for her Christmas Special, done celebrity styling, worked on costumes for the short film «Power Rangers» and the Eminem-produced film «Bodied».
«Everything starts and comes from Bjork»
— How did you start collaborating with Bjork? I read that you grew up together in Iceland, but how exactly did your professional collaboration start?
— We met at a mutual friend’s birthday party, and she offered to drive me home after the party. I already had been working as a stylist abroad and always admired Bjork’s style. I am quite shy and introverted so it took all my courage to blurt out that I’d love to help her with her wardrobe. Shortly thereafter, I received a call to help with one of her passion projects. Our relationship grew from there.
It is unknown how many years Edda has been working with Bjork, but the stylist first posted a photo of the artist in an image stylized by her on her Instagram in 2015. Together they stylized at least two albums, Utopia (2017) and Fossora (2022), namely music videos, covers and costumes for tours, also Edda helped with the images for the tour of the album Vulnicura (2015).
Utopia’s futuristic images are influenced by science fiction: Edda chose clothes made of recycled plastic and emphasized peach tones.
Edda and Bjork complemented one of the looks, which includes the suit by Ukrainian brand Paskal, with an orchid mask and a strap-on. Bjork said of the costumes, «It needed to look fertile and potent, that there is a erotic energy there, a potential for multiplying but also a little scary, a little fucked up, a comedy element to it too».
In an interview with Dazed, Edda notes that it’s important for her to tell stories through her clothes. For example, Bjork wrote the album Fossora during the pandemic. To emphasize this, Edda chose a turquoise dress made of translucent fabric Jisoo Baik, which, according to the designer, «is inspired by ideas of safety and protection» and forms «a protective barrier between a woman and the world».
— What is Bjork’s role in styling her costumes, images?
— Everything starts and comes from Bjork, she creates the music, the character and the world for the album. I try to help her with navigating the fashion part. She always puts the final styling together herself and finds a lot of the looks.
— How will the styling complement the concept of the new Fossora album? What goal did you set for yourself as a stylist and what will distinguish the styling of this album and images from others?
— Bjork becomes a different character in each of her albums. They are visual short cuts to her music.
She tries to describe the sounds with images, including colors, shapes and textures. My goal as a stylist is to help her achieve her vision.
In Another Magazine, Bjork tells us about the palettes of the last three albums. «Looking back at the cover of Utopia, I can say: „Oh, that was a period of peach and mint, and the air element and no bass.” And this new album, Fossora, is dark, dark, dark green and dark, dark, dark red. It’s not gold – it’s silver. It’s like solving a riddle, but I always start with the music and sometimes the first year is very, very impulsive – I have no idea what I’m doing….»
And she adds: «When I was working on Vulnicura, I thought: „When I made Vulnicura, I was like, ‘What? I have a Greek tragedy?’ I had no idea. And that’s when the colours come. Vulnicura was neon yellow because of a sense of emergency. There’s trauma, a sort of sainthood of the victim, so there’s this idea of a halo».
— In 2015 Ukrainian designer Julie Pascal sent Bjork a parcel with a blue fringe suit, and in 2017 Bjork wore it for a promotional photo shoot for the album Utopia. How open are you to little-known brands?
— Bjork has a great eye for discovering up-and-coming artists and designers. In the case of the Paskal outfit, I first noticed Yulia’s work back in 2015, while I was in Paris for Fashion Week. I requested one of her looks for a project Bjork and I were working on. That particular look did not make it into that project, but Bjork was a fan of Yulia’s designs and kept her eye out for future opportunities. Fast forward to 2017, we were working on the initial shoot for Utopia in Los Angeles. Bjork brought a suitcase from home and, in it, was the Paskal suit. It had just the right color and texture for Utopia.
About the transformation of a stylist’s work
— How has the job of a stylist changed over the course of your work in general? What are the main transformations you see?
— For better or for worse, my jobs today move at a much faster speed than in the past. Me and my team are also now taking care of clients simultaneously all over the world. It seems like the world is on an endless quest for new and exciting material. On the downside, there is little time for private life and occasionally ideas get released half baked due to time constraints.
In addition, many of my styling jobs have evolved into PR relationships, in which I connect my clients with brands and sponsorship opportunities.
Edda’s website notes that «she is known for her artistic and versatile approach as well as her unparalleled imagination». But her portfolio also includes many commercial cases besides projects with artists and collaborations with avant-garde designers. In particular, she has styled magazine ads for Puma, for mass market brands Mary Kay, Olay, Revlon, video ads for Pepsi and Converse, and promotion of events for brands.
Bjork and her team are constantly experimenting with technology: she filmed the music video Notget from the Vulnicura album in virtual reality, and later played a concert in Los Angeles with the VR technology elements. In November 2022, it was announced that Bjork will perform at the Decentraland Metaverse Music Festival: on November 13 was made her first performance in the Metaverse.
— Now Gucci, Balenciaga and others create their collections in the Metaverse, and there is also a fashion week there. In your opinion, what role does the Metaverse play in the fashion industry? And would you like to try your hand as a Metastylist?
— I think it’s exciting. The possibilities are endless.
The metaverse doesn’t have to deal with many of the “problems” facing the physical fashion world. The metaverse is therefore more of a fashion utopia.
When it comes to the business model of the metaverse, I am more of a skeptic, but happy to be proven wrong. In any event, yes I would love to try my hand at meta –styling. Seems like a dream client!
— There are also fashion stylists in the Metaverse, and their work is different from the approach in the classical profession. That is, self-expression becomes the main thing instead of choosing images for a specific situation. Do you think if people got used to dressing their avatars in more avant-garde clothing, it might change their style in ordinary life to a more daring one?
— Wouldn’t that be wonderful?!