Established in 2013, Ahlvar Gallery updates the iconic silk blouse for the urban woman. Combining fluid, everyday silk pieces with more traditional classics, Swedish designer and founder Frida Ahlvarsson seeks to redefine the notion of timeless dressing.
“After ten years as a designer working for other brands I decided to follow my dreams and create my own label. For several years this idea has been in the back of my head and it has grown more and more. I wanted to create that perfect blouse that you can wear together with a pair of black trousers and high heels. A timeless blouse that is neither too cute nor too ladylike. That is sensual without overdoing it.
My main focus is blouses. Feminine blouses with unique seams and cuts to mess it up and to renounce from the plain, sweet and noble. Just a hint of “trompe l’oeil” (fool the eye) to enhance rather than confuse. My goal is that it should feel well executed but also uncomplicated and easy to wear. A timeless collection that strikes
a perfect balance between wearable and unique."
Co-founder and head of design at Ahlvar Gallery
15 questions to Frida Ahlvarsson
1. HOW DID IT ALL START?
At the age of 11 I was diagnosed with scoliosis. To cure the scoliosis I had to stay indoors the whole summer wearing a corset almost 24/7. My mother told me to carefully choose something to buy that could be fun to play with indoors. I bought myself my first sewing machine and that summer I made 60 stuffed animals.
Two years later my interest shifted from making stuffed animals to designing clothes. Since then I have studied at Esmod International Fashion School, worked as a designer for Frank Dandy and for the last five years before starting my own label as a designer for Odd Molly.
2. WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO START YOUR OWN BRAND?
I spotted a gap in the market that no other brand had focused on. That kind of silk blouse that you want to wear together with a pair of ripped jeans or leather trousers didn’t exist. When I went out for dinner with my girlfriends the jersey t-shirt felt too dressed down, and a dress didn’t feel right either. I was looking for something in between but all of the blouses in my wardrobe were either too cute or too ladylike. That was the first insight towards designing what would become my signature product.
3. WHY SILK BLOUSES?
Nothing can be more sustainable than a timeless silk blouse. A blouse you can wear day and night for a lifetime. Pieces you find yourself relying on regardless if the occasion is a late dinner or a business meeting. View them as long-term investments that pay off every time you are wearing them, and I promise it will be often. This is real sustainability and as far from mass production as you can get.
4. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE AHLVAR GALLERY?
I would describe Ahlvar Gallery as a brand that provides feminine everyday classics accented with a sense of attitude. The idea is to create timeless pieces that you should be able to wear day and night for a lifetime.
5. WHAT IS THE GOAL WITH YOUR BRAND?
My goal is to keep working with my biggest passion, to do what I love and to make a living out of it. And since I’m a commercial designer my goal is of course also to make pieces that many women want to wear.
6. DESCRIBE THE DESIGN PROCESS, DO YOU WORK WITH TRENDS?
For a retail brand it takes 14 months from sketching to have the actual garment in the stores. Of course it is hard to predict what women want to wear in the future but at the same time it is that anxiety that kills the creativity. You have to believe in yourself and your design in order to succeed. I always describe myself as a
clothing designer not as a fashion designer. Fashion is constantly changing but style remains the same.
7. WHICH PARTS OF YOUR JOB ARE THE MOST FUN?
The creative process is always the part I find most exciting, especially in the beginning when you start sketching on a new collection because then it feels like everything is possible.
8. WHAT INSPIRES YOU AS A DESIGNER?
I am a very social person and travel a lot so I love to analyze what women wear and how they want to present themselves. My inspiration comes from the surroundings and the people around me.
9. WHO IS THE TYPICAL AHLVAR GALLERY WOMAN?
The typical Ahlvar Gallery woman usually works in an office and she appreciates that our design works both day and night. She wants to spend time on things that matter so timeless and uncomplicated styling is an obvious choice.
10. WHO INSPIRES YOU IN THE FASHION WORLD, ANY ROLE MODELS?
I would say that Bianca Jagger is my muse because her look during the 70’s was booth feminine yet edgy. Even though she had her era more than 50 years ago, her style still feels current. That type of eternal style is what I shoot for with Ahlvar Gallery.
11. HOW DO YOU STYLE YOUR OWN AHLVAR GALLERY ITEMS?
I want every garment to work independently rather than being dependent on layering. One-piece-is-enough is a rule I try to follow. The styling should be easy and I personally love the contrasts like silk blouse combined with distressed black denim, or why not our silk trousers together with an oversized heavy knitted sweater.
12. WHICH ITEM AMONG ALL OF AHLVAR GALLERY’S PIECES IS YOUR PERSONAL FAVORITE?
My absolute favorite is the Kasumi blouse, because it suits every occasion and goes with any bottom.
13. WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT HAVING YOUR OWN BRAND?
The best thing is that I am finally able to create pieces that I personally love to wear, and of course that I can choose who I work with. I also love being surrounded by other entrepreneurs who are as passionate about their companies as I am about mine.
14. YOUR HAVE A LITTLE DAUGHTER AND A RECENTLY LAUNCHED COMPANY, HOW DO YOU HANDLE IT ALL?
It’s all about making conscious decisions and at the same time following your heart. With that said it doesn’t mean it is easy all the time, sometimes there is a lot going on but then it is important to prioritize. If you put passion, love and commitment into what you do, becoming a mother does not have to slow you down. Instead your child creates a deeper sense of purpose, makes you braver and gives you inspiration.