The Cardigans’ Nina Persson Tries Her Hand At Design—Cardigans Not Included

It was only fitting that Nina Persson, former lead singer of a band called the Cardigans, would eventually get around to dabbling in fashion. Now she has, teaming up with Swedish label Hope for a Fall ‘10 capsule collection. No cardigans, but the Nina Persson + Hope range does include ten-odd thirties vintage-inspired pieces distilled from many beloved yet not-quite-perfect things hanging in Persson’s own closet. The limited-edition collection will be previewed at a party later this month at Project No. 8 on the Lower East Side; in the meantime, Persson chats with about her debut as a designer.

How did the collaboration with Hope come about?
They asked me if I would be interested in doing a collection, and I thought—why not? I don’t have much else going on.

That can’t be right. Didn’t your new band, A Camp, release a record last year? Haven’t you been on the road, and all that? And you’re part of Citizens Band, too…
Well, that’s all true, but around the time Hope contacted me, I had just finished touring, and I was doing about what I’m doing now, which is being pleasantly lazy. I’m giving myself a chance to say “yes” to things—recording a track with a friend, doing different interesting projects. This seemed like an interesting project.

Had you been nursing a desire to design?
God, not at all. I’m very happy to be, like, an inspired consumer. I think I have good taste—I think that’s why Hope had the idea to work with me. But, to be totally honest, the few occasions before this when I’ve entered into the fashion world, I haven’t been too impressed, you know? Maybe it’s just that it’s quite different from the music world, but at the end of the day, that’s it—I’m a musician. I write songs. I have no idea how to construct clothes. And that’s not something I’ve been dying to master.

Did working with Hope change your perspective on fashion at all?
It was such a universe that opened up to me—first of all, to see how these things I buy get made, and also, because I had the opportunity at last to go create the pieces I’d been looking for and not finding for so many years. That’s really the theme of the collection: things I’ve wanted but could never find. Again, I’m not a designer, so it felt like it would be ridiculous for me to try something complicated, avant-garde. No one wants to see Nina Persson attempting couture, you know? So Ann, the head of design at Hope, came to hang out at my house, and we went through my closet, and I pulled out all these things I love but that I’ve always wished were different in some small way. A different fabric, say. Or I’d pull out a dress that I love the look of, and say, “Could we make it more like this other one, with a better cut?” We just merged my favorite things together, that’s it. Not very ambitious.

I guess it wouldn’t be fair to ask if you have favorites among your favorites…
I do, though. I really love the coat (pictured, above right, and on Nina, below). Obviously, I choose the most expensive piece… The fox fur collar that goes with it, we found a guy in Sweden who could make this exact collar I’d been looking for. That was great. I’m not bothered by fur, but in case any PETA people out there are worried, all the fur comes from foxes who had to be hunted, due to overpopulation.

Hold the flying pie, in other words.
Yeah, really. That’s the last thing I need—PETA people chasing me around. No, thank you.

The collection draws a lot on the look of the thirties. I wonder, is there a link between your gravitation to that era in terms of style and the work you produce as a musician?
I see a link. Not a direct link, certainly not the sound, but maybe there’s a romantic, cinematic quality that pervades both. And the references around the last A Camp album were all very retro. I think, you know, when you are making music, the music comes out of everything you’re touching in your life at that time, and then it kind of re-influences you. It’s like, when I was in the Cardigans, it was hilarious—we always looked like the music we were making. We’d be making a record that was folksy, Fleetwood Mac-y, and the guys would all have long hair and beards, you know?

Do you foresee continuing the Hope collaboration, or is this a one-off?
Hmm…I’m starting—only just starting—to work out ideas for my next record, so I imagine that will be consuming most of my attention soon. I’m not opposed to doing another collection, but, well, I don’t like summer clothes. And the whole idea of having to produce collections seasonally—I mean, ugh. I really don’t like the idea of having to spend my life thinking about what people want to wear, what they want to buy in three months’ time. But who knows? Maybe after this next album, I’ll be in a totally new place, with a whole new set of inspirations, and I’ll be looking again for things I want but can’t find. So then, yeah. Maybe.

Photos: Courtesy of Hope


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