Have you met... Isobel Gowdie

Text by Maria Santos. Pictures courtesy of Isobel Gowdie

Berlin is dressing up for the Fashion Week. No matter whether it rains or snows, if you are still under an after-Christmas financial recovery plan or just far from looking like the shape of a cigarette.

Apart from the official dates, there is plenty of equally attractive side activities as, for instance, the Vintage Fashion Fair. And if you just happen to stand for high quality vintage and designer items, Isobel Gowdie is definitely your thing. Right in the middle of Mitte's most selective yet high stylish shopping area, this off store run by artists Iris van Dongen and Martin Skauen combines haute couture and catwalk brands with art editions and design furniture.
It's just pure passion for beautiful things what pushed both of them to open a clothing store in a courtyard of Alte Schönhauser Str. 39. Always aiming to offer a fair price for handpicked items mostly from France and Holland, the list of selling brands include such well known names as Isabel Marant, Dries van Noten, Missoni, Margiela, Daisy Kroon, Humanoid, APC, Acne and many more.
Along with four fellow Norwegian artists, Martin is part of Tegneklubben. His head doesn't seem to stop searching for poetic ideas to put into images, as you'd have already noticed in our weekly Strip it down. He is currently having a solo show at Laura Bartlett Gallery in London and will be part of Art Statements in the upcoming edition of Art Basel.
Iris has been up and down, commuting Berlin and New York since she graduated in Fine Arts in Holland. She is part of the artists collective Kimberly Clark. Her works are now being shown at Luis Adelantado in Valencia and Mexico, and later on this year she's having a solo show in Paris at Bugada & Cargnel.
How do you come up with the clothing store idea?

Having been working in visual arts for over 13 years makes you experience that art as a full-time job can be something really hardcore for your brain. It keeps your head busy and ties you to the desk, and you just can't be sitting in the studio all the time, sometimes you need to load up your inspiration. We need to put the energy of those moments in which we are not working into something different, something more down to earth that give us some free space in our heads. This is a complete different activity, we often feel like children playing to have a shop

What is your main concept?

This is mainly a clothing store, but we also like to show some art, so we are asking artists we like to do something here. We'd also like to further develop the design part. For the moment we have these pieces of furniture by dutch designer Inneke Hans. They are made of hard-packed plastic and look like quite cartoonish sculptures. We're also planning to show more artists objects.
 
Why did you call your store after a witch?

I love that name because it sounds like a brand, but it's also nice that there is a little story behind.
The name Isobel Gowdie has been hanging around since my childhood, as I loved that Alex Harvey Band song with the same name. They sang about a hooker, but we researched a little and found out that in fact she was a woman who claimed to be a witch during the XVIth century. It is stated in historiography that she confessed in order to avoid torture, but one can just assume that she just suffered from dementia

Are you planning to do any special opening event or presentation?

We will be presenting a new artist every month from february on, but we are trying to avoid classical vernissages since we already had plenty of them ourselves while being involved in several artist run spaces. And after all this is not a gallery as such. We will keep displaying artists books and works. In february we are presenting Dean Young, finalist of the Pulitzer prize and recognized as one of the most energetic and influential poets nowadays. Let's see if we can arrange some video screening for a one-night event sometime In the future. As for the official opening celebration, it will be held in spring

 
How do you see this project developing?

We are still fresh, we just opened. For the time being we are showing some of our own works and adding more artists names to the program, but we got a good artist line up so far, including Simon Evans, Sarah Lannan, Jorunn Hancke Øgstad, Marius Engh, Ada van Hoorebeke...

What are you plans for Fashion week?

We will be presenting a poster-project, serving prosecco after 18.00 every evening, and will stay open until 22.00

 
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