Sunniva Hartgen-Sverdrup 31 years Head of Fashion, Oslo Runway Oslo, Norway
14.8 – 16.8.2023
Sunniva Hartgen-Sverdrup 31 years Head of Fashion, Oslo Runway Oslo, Norway

I rode my bicycle to Oslo. From Copenhagen. I was invited to Oslo Runway, an event which I have attended every iteration of since its inception except for in 2022, and frankly I missed it. Back before Copenhagen Fashion Week became the juggernaut that it is now, there were events in both Oslo and Stockholm which were of, in my opinion, equal importance. I had been to Oslo before back in 1994 when my mom was still designing for Helly Hansen, and it seemed interesting to go back again.

I made tons of friends during my visits to Oslo Runway, and you’ll see many of them pop up here as I continue with this project. Before the pandemic the event was helmed by my friend Ditte, a Dane living in Oslo, and we got along at a very high level. There were parties and debauchery and dinners, and every morning was a hang over and a half. Partying with my late friend Madeleine Holth and her friends was probably one of my best memories of the city. But I hadn’t been back to Oslo Runway since she passed.

When I was invited, I was told that Sunniva was part of the organization of the event. I’d met Sunniva almost daily on all my previous trips to Oslo and only knew her in the context of a Stylist. We’d worked on a shoot together with Holzweiler a few years prior. Where many of the people at the shows seemed to be dressing up for attention, Sunniva always stood out by not standing out. Her way of dressing was what I personally felt embodied the true Scandinavian aesthetic, which was at the time on a decline, making way for a new more maximal look.

Not only was Sunniva’s style toned down, but she always came across as quite quiet and calm, which in contrast to the wild nights which I cannot remember at all, was very welcomed. So, I hopped on my bike and I rode to Oslo to give the event another chance. But as I rolled into the city, I started to have memories of Madeleine, whom I realized only now as the city drew closer, that I would not be seeing on this trip or on any future visit. The ride went from being totally freeing to feeling like I was entering into a bit of a self-inflicted trap.

Patrick, who rode the last kilometers with me into town, was the one that called me to tell me Madeleine was in the hospital years before. So, when I saw his face it all rolled back into view for me. Was this going to be how the whole trip went?

Although this story has gone off track a bit, I find it interesting to see how people are connected. How a city can be so different for so many people. I spoke with Sunniva about Madeleine. I said how the city and the event was so different without her. I said that Oslo needed her cynicism to balance things out. Who was I going to be my co-cynic? Who was going to keep me at Angst until 3am?

In the end, Oslo Runway was great. Sunniva and team did a fantastic job, and I truly think it was the best iteration of the event so far. She graciously allowed me to photograph her in the very first days of this project before I actually knew what I was doing. I probably should have asked her to allow me to photograph her at home as I’ve been doing with so many others, but this was all done before I made the “rules” yet. But I’m quite sure I’ll be back next summer again.