Last week we visited the showroom of Copenhagen-based brand Aleksandr Manamïs. We call it a ‘brand’ because we don’t know if Aleksandr Manamïs is a designer or just a name – they have done their best to remain anonymous, wishing their work to be the center of attention.
Since the start of the brand seven years ago, its development has been organic, with the size of the collections growing gradually. The F/W 2014 collection consists of little more than thirty pieces, and aims to provide a full wardrobe to the wearer. Manamïs’ collection is gender-neutral; for each piece, the cuts, for example through the recurring use of dropped shoulders and loose silhouettes that can be adjusted to the wearer’s body, are balanced to accommodate both male and female anatomies. The rest is taken care of through grading and sizing runs.
At the core of Manamïs’ aesthetic is a certain romanticism (the poetry of Shelley has been an influence). There are three interacting elements in each collection – easy garments whose aim is comfort, tailoring, and pieces that carry a more dramatic esthetic – these can be combined as the wearer sees fit.
The brand’s philosophy is to not intrude upon the wearer. To this end, Manamïs’ work has a strong focus on fine detailing that sometimes leave some design decisions to the wearer by allowing him/her to make his/her own adjustments, such as buttoned tabs on shirt cuffs, ribbon-ties on wrap cardigans and the uni-sleeve of the ‘siamese’ long-sleeve that let you cut the garment into two regular sleeves of desired lengths. Some pieces allow the wearer to define them as he/she pleases or as weather demands, such as an A-line shirt/dress/coat or a wrapped long-shirt which can be buttoned in several ways. Backs on blazers, coats and tops are at times cross-over or fold-over, allowing for freedom of movement.
In other pieces, detailing gives a sense of either frailty or preciousness – some hems are left raw, while others are meticulously finished. The tops have discreet darting, distressing, and overlock stitching. A faded old floral print is rediscovered and used as lining in a long coat, as a pocket square in a blazer or in a shirt, to soften the black tones of the collection, and the abundance of greys has a similar effect.
Manamis’s production is done in a range of locations such as Italy, Portugal, and India (for embroidery), depending on the particulars of each collection. Considerable work is put into developing materials together with fabric mills and on finding the balance of materials in each collection. In Manamïs’ garments texture becomes all the more important since color is used sparingly. All fibers are natural – sweaters and cardigans light enough to layer under a jacket come in a wool/cashmere blend or in wool/cotton double layer jersey. Even lighter jersey comes in oiled spun silk. A custom jacquard weave adds a touch of extravagance to Manamis’s otherwise quiet work.
Text and closeup photos by Calle Lidgard | Lookbook photos courtesy of Aleksandr Manamis