Ditte Reffstrup, the Ganni creative director, is reminiscing about the first time she and the model Paloma Elsesser met. “Each season when we start to talk about the show, I’m allowed to say one dream model that I’d love to have in the show—sky’s the limit—and in fall 2020 Paloma was my pick and we managed to get her,” she said on a Zoom a few days before her show took place at an exhibition hall in Copenhagen’s Vesterbro neighbourhood. “We were just super excited to bring her to Copenhagen, and we had a big dinner the night before the show.”
But things did not go as planned.
“I went to the dinner, and I think I ate an oyster or something, and I started to feel sick throughout the day,” Elsesser remembers. “And then we were in lineup—literally in lineup with girls on the runway—and I don’t know what happened, but I just projectile vomited, and before I knew it, there were 10 Danish people around me, my hair is lifted, and there’s a Coca-Cola in my hand.” While everyone told Elsesser that she didn’t have to go through with the show, she realised that the moment was too important to let being sick get in the way. “Ganni put Danish fashion and Copenhagen fashion on the map—it was the first major Danish brand that I had heard of—and the conversation around size hadn’t really happened in a lot of spaces, so it was such an important moment. I knew intrinsically that I needed to walk that f***ing runway,” she says, laughing. Reffstrup adds. “I don’t know how you did it, but you were not sick for those four or five minutes. I was like, Okay, now that’s a superstar.”
When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. But when life gave Elsesser a bout of food poisoning minutes before she was due to close Ganni’s fall 2020 show, she soldiered on to the runway and ate, as the popular saying goes.
Today Elsesser was back on the runway, this time opening the show in a slinky, textured dress and matching trousers in a rich shade of burgundy. Her return to the Ganni runway comes with something extra—a sneak peek at the capsule between the model and the Danish label that will hit stores early next year. “When we do a collab, it’s always super important that both voices are represented,” Reffstrup says. “We talked Paloma through the whole inspiration behind the collection and then let her have an open and free creative process.” The resulting collection includes a mix of ready-to-wear pieces available in Ganni’s full size range of EU 32 to 52, and it reflects Elsesser’s own approach to getting dressed.
“Something that Ganni does beautifully is—you can wear a Ganni dress to get breakfast with an exec and then go to lunch and go to the party after and go to the office and be all of these people that we’re required to be in one day, with one outfit,” Elsesser says. “We live in these bustling cities, and so much of our lives is enshrined in privilege, but I think the privilege of creating ease in life is very powerful. I don’t like simplicity as much, but I like ease, you know what I mean?” The distinction is an important one, and it shows how attuned the model is to matters of style.
Simplicity, sometimes used as shorthand for minimalism, is something a Ganni girl could never be accused of being. But ease! Now that’s a different story. “There’s freedom in ease,” Elsesser adds. “Subscribing to a certain style that’s like, ‘Oh! The perfect white shirt’—that’s not my story, and I don’t think that’s the Ganni-girl story either. She’s far more expressive. She wants to have fun, but she also wants ease.”
This story was originally published on Vogue.com.