Art of Living Well

Ganni’s Ditte Reffstrup Knows the Key to Surviving Copenhagen Fashion Week. (Hint, It Has Two Wheels)

Ditte Reffstrup. Image courtesy of Betty Krag and Ganni.

Ganni’s resurrection and ensuing world takeover is 21st-century fashion lore. As the creative half of its reigning couple, Ditte Reffstrup has lived through dozens of Copenhagen Fashion Weeks (and thrown many a fashion week party). Which is why ears perked and brows furrowed when the Danish brand announced it would be sitting out this week’s edition.

Instead, Ganni chose to partner with CPHFW’s NEWTALENT platform to amplify rising talents through a pop-up exhibition, financial grant, and mentorship program. The show, “Future, Talent, Fabrics” takes over Copenhagen’s Nikolaj Kunsthal from Jan. 31 through Feb. 2, spotlighting the work of buzzy local creatives like Alectra Rothschild, Nicklas Skovgaard, Jens Ole Árnason, and A. Roege Hove.

The selected designers will all present their take on Ganni’s “Fabrics of the Future” program, which supports the development of alternative materials and sustainable manufacturing practices. In the midst of what promises to be a busy few days, fashion show or not, Reffstrup called CULTURED to talk winter bathing, surprise parties, and why CPHFW is the friendliest fashion week of them all.

With Ganni sitting out Copenhagen Fashion Week this season, what can we expect from the brand this week?

We have been doing shows for the last 10 years, and I really felt like we needed something new. We have received so much love and so much support from Copenhagen Fashion Week, so we really wanted to give some of that love back. I'm always excited about the show, but this exhibition [we’re hosting in collaboration with CPHFW] is even more exciting because we are including different talents, designers, and artists that are working with fabrics of the future.

Can you tell me about a few of the young Danish talents Ganni is spotlighting in “Future, Talent, Fabrics”?

Nicklas Skovgaard is a rising star, a true raw talent. His pieces are almost a cross between art and ready-to-wear. I expect a lot from him in the future. Another designer I'm really excited about is Amalie Røge Hove Geertsen. She's a very talented knitwear designer who has had her own brand for some years. Unfortunately, she had to shut down her own company last year. But hopefully she will be back. The last couple of seasons, it has been so sad to see so many new up-and-coming talents struggle with the economy.

Ganni is also hosting a dinner party this week. What should people expect from that event?

We're going to host it at Nikolaj Kunsthal, which is a church-turned-art-institution where we’re also having the exhibition. The ingredients of a Ganni dinner party are good energy, sharing food, laid back fun, a lot of dancing, and maybe a small karaoke room.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

It depends on the mood, but one of my favorites is “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. That's a really good one you can just scream out.

2024 marks your 15th year as Ganni’s creative director.  What has been the most surprising part of this journey?

My life has become so much richer in terms of the people I work with. I feel like I've created a second family and a second home. I would never have imagined that. On the other hand, I feel like my work and my personal life is just one blurry mass. It never stops. It’s not like I’m coming home from work and switching off. It’s kind of running through my veins.

Ganni has a strong international presence yet remains deeply rooted in Danish culture. What can other fashion capitals learn from Copenhagen?

I hope that one part of it is our focus on responsibility and sustainability. I also think that we have a more democratic way of working in fashion, which is linked to our cultural heritage with furniture and making furniture for everybody. Sometimes fashion can have a “you can’t sit with us” attitude, but I think CPHFW makes people from the outside feel very welcome.

Ganni's Spring/Summer 2024 Show.

What do you think Danes understand about living and dressing well, that the rest of the world hasn't quite tapped into yet?

We are a bit more carefree about how we dress. It's more about individual taste and a state of mind than anything else. That is where the Ganni mindset comes from: It's more about the person beneath the clothes.

What’s the beauty product you use the most during fashion week?

It's a French brand called Biologique Recherche. They have this one mask called Vernix, which is a good one to put on after a fashion party with too much sugar, too much alcohol, and no sleep. I actually discovered it 10 years ago in New York at this place called Daphne Beauty next to my hotel on Kenmare. I've used it ever since.

Beyond your karaoke favorite, what soundtrack should people be channeling for CPHFW?

Last CPHFW, we had a party, and one of the DJs was a guy called Arman Naféei. He has a radio show called ARE WE ON AIR? where he does a lot of interviews with different talents and artists, and he has his own playlists on Spotify. He has good energy. I’ve also just been to a Madonna concert, and I would actually suggest her 2023 setlist. Good vibes.

Is there a standout memory from a past fashion week that was a game-changer for you or for the brand?

We’ve always done parties and dinners, even when there were only five people working for the company. It would just grow and grow. When we lived with one of our friends in a big old house, we did a private party, and it ended up being maybe 200 people. Dev Hynes was DJing. I was dancing on the kitchen table. I felt like the house was actually moving. The police came and they tried to pull me off the table, and I was like, “I live here!” It was just crazy. I will treasure that memory forever.


Is there a key to surviving CPHFW?

A key to surviving is actually to rent a bike. It will take you everywhere. The city is so small, so you can actually bike everywhere. Listen to a podcast and make sure to wear some really good gloves.

What's your favorite small luxury to give to someone else?

I love a good, buttery Chardonnay. I'm old-fashioned in that way. I don't drink natural wine. Is that boring?

What is something you'd love for someone to buy for you but would never buy for yourself?

I would really love for someone to throw me a surprise party.

What’s your favorite smell?

Lavender. I don't really use perfume anymore, but I had some time to spend in the airport some weeks ago, and I went into the perfume department to smell perfumes from my past. You know how when you listen to music, it will take you back to the time when you were kissing a boy when you were 15 or whatever. Perfume does that for me. One perfume that I treasure but don't really use anymore is Comme des Garçons’s “White.” When I moved to Copenhagen, I worked in a store, and they had that perfume. So it reminds me of that time, when I met so many fun new friends and loved everything about living in Copenhagen.

What is a luxurious ritual you inherited from someone in your life?

My mom taught me at a very early age to have facials. It's something she has always treasured as a luxury for herself. She started taking me when I began to have pimples as a teenager. I’ve gone every other month ever since.

Where's the best facial in Copenhagen?

Ara’kai and Helle Kjær Wellness.

What’s your favorite luxury that costs less than $20?

An ice-cold Coca Cola. And, if I have time, a massage.

Is there a wellness ritual you find overrated?

I only find it overrated because I’m jealous that people can do it. I envy people that can winter bathe.

What is the most luxurious thing in your life that's free?

Time. Like when you thought it was 4 but it's actually only 3. I get a feeling running through my body being like I really got something for free there.

For more tips on how to live well, check out our interviews with designer Elena Velezartist Sarah Meyohas, and actor Jemima Kirke.