Party or fashion show? Christian Juul Nielsen debuts at NYFW
Designer Christian Juul Nielsen makes his New York Fashion Week debut with Danish brand Aknvas in a beautiful flurry of bunny heads, models and disco music.

A quick glance into the sunken living room at Spring Studios might have one questioning whether or not they had fallen into a 1970s conversation pit. Christian Juul Nielsen, designer of up-and-coming Danish brand Aknvas, doesn’t exactly subscribe to the concept of time. Although Aknvas launched in 2019, Nielsen told one attendee of his show that he believes they truly launched about a year and a half ago — right in the middle of the pandemic. Nielsen unveiled his new Fall/Winter 2022 collection in the ’70s-esque space, complete with red velvet stairs leading down to plush lavender carpet. Four models in bright, structured dresses and heavy jackets paraded around against a video projection of themselves dancing — and, get this: smiling — to disco remixes spun by IMG model and DJ Mona Matsuoka.

Nielsen’s nontraditional style of presentation — with models acting as humans rather than clothes hangers — reflects his design philosophy, which he describes as “young and bold.” He certainly realized this aim, as young influencers such as Niki and Gabi DeMartino could be seen ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the two racks of menswear and womenswear framing the outside of the pit. Their appearance, as well as that of Davis Burleson, host of the What’s Poppin Show — that is, the blond guy who jump scares people in Washington Square Park to interview them on TikTok — may be an early sign of the brand’s steady ascent to becoming a household name.

As other show attendees stopped briefly to touch the assortment of matching day-to-nightwear that hung on the racks, it was evident that the live models and their clothes were the main attraction of the show.

One blond male model wore what might have been the crowd favorite: an oversized maroon puffer with criss-cross paneling and a gloss coating. Nielsen himself called the model over to demonstrate how the jacket lays over a yellow and red knit sweater, drawing special attention to the thick-knit cords and long tassel that hung from the sweater. While the puffer jacket was instantly and incessantly praised by the show’s attendees, the functionality — or lack thereof — of the long sweater tassel raised a few eyebrows. However impractical, the outfit was undeniably cool, and the model swaggered around the room with pride.

In alignment with the collection’s carefree spirit, makeup artist Ayana Awata told WSN that Nielsen didn’t want the models “too cakey and powdery,” but instead wanted to keep them “as natural as possible.”This could be seen in the lack of color on the models’ faces — they wore only concealer with no foundation. Awata kept it simple with clean, naked faces accented with singular swipes of thick, black, graphic eyeliner.

Contrasting the bright, colorful clothes, the lack of face makeup made a statement as the models posed against a “Midsommar”-esque flowered-bunny-mannequin-head standing jarringly in a pastel women’s pantsuit.

Among the racks of plaid jumpsuits, thick colorful knit sweaters and bright green furs, one piece stood out in particular: a stretchy ribbed mini dress with bustier style outlines. The dress caught my eye as soon as I saw it, but what made it most notable was when one attendee shined her phone flashlight on the dress and illuminated tiny silver sparkles in the fabric, previously hidden by the daylight.

While the designs of Aknvas’ FW22 collection are nothing that the fashion world hasn’t seen before, the flattering cuts and the flawless execution in the transition from daywear to eveningwear hint at a possibility of greater creative expansion, while remaining true to the quality of the brand. One thing is abundantly clear: Christian Juul Nielsen is not a name to forget.


Article originally published on Washington Square News. Photo by Manasa Gudavalli for WSN. 

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