The Girl with the Laotian Name

Words Christina Faaborg

Illustration Souvanni Asmussen | Tomorrow Management

20 years in the industry is a long time in the fluid world of fashion. Nevertheless, this year, Souvanni Asmussen celebrates her 20th jubilee as a stylist and 10 years as an illustrator and she still belongs among the best of the Danish fashion industry. We met her for a chat about her career and background for making it to where she is today.

Social heritage can play a substantial part when it comes to how one’s life develops. Souvanni Asmussen is living proof of this. Although she is 46 years old and perhaps twenty years older than many of her colleagues, she is also twenty years ahead in matter of experience. And the experience is all that matters when you want to make it in the creative industry.

“I’m a little surprised sometimes that I’m still as busy as I am when there are so many young talents out there”, admits Souvanni while knowing that she has some very particular skills that she will maintain regardless of her age. “I probably possess a general sense of what’s good taste by means of my childhood”, she says. Both her parents were illustrators for a living, and she grew up in a home surrounded by art. Her parents and family are incredibly important and influential to Souvanni Asmussen, whose great-grandmother came from Laos. In fact, she is so proud of her Laotian roots that she never uses her Danish middle name – Camilla.

Souvanni’s father, Des Asmussen, was one of the most recognised names in Danish illustration and he would have become 100 years old this year. Some of her father’s drawings have a special place on the walls of her home. “My dad is my greatest role model. He sketched black pen drawings and drew everything from houses to landscapes – and he did it every single day.”

 

Souvanni’s main occupation is being a stylist, yet at the same time she loves to draw – and although she tries to keep the two things separate, a styling job often begins with a sketch on a piece of paper. She has always been drawing, in the years before and during her education at the design school. “I’ve inherited my father’s way of sketching”, she says. “My style is different than my mother’s, who is very meticulous about her drawing and likes to fiddle with the details while my father’s style was more sketchy”. When Souvanni makes an illustration it often takes 25 drawings to get to the right one. She never erases, but prefers to discard and start all over. “I like a certain freshness in my drawings so they appear to have just been sketched.”

Souvanni’s mother, Fleur Brofos Asmussen, has also been a great inspiration – especially when it comes to the matter of styling. She lived in New York City in the fifties where she worked as a fashion illustrator, illustrating shoes for magazines. At that time Andy Warhol was just about to break through, and Souvanni’s mother has memories of him as a shy young man. After that she worked as an assistant to the head costume designer at the Metropolitan Opera. When speaking with Souvanni it is clear she is very impressed with her mother’s accomplishments. Fleur Brofos Asmussen, who is now more than 80, still travels the world and practices her art.

“I’ve obviously learnt from my mother. Moreover, she’s given me a lot of fantastic old pieces – including some items from YSL’s Russian-inspired 70s collections which I keep in my private collection”, Souvanni says. “My dad didn’t really teach me to draw and my mother didn’t teach me how to do styling or make me interested in fashion as such. But we look at our parents and become inspired by them.”

Souvanni’s own daughter, Iris, age 12, is not into drawing but is interested in dancing and styling, the latter of which she may have picked up from her mother. ”She’s quite fashionable and has her own unique experimental style. I’m actually rather inspired by looking at her and seeing what she gets from the current trends.” (…)

Read more in Tomorrow’s Journal | Issue 7

DANSK 2011
DANSK 2011

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