How We Met: Peter Jensen & Nina Persson
'I hadn't told him I was pregnant so there was a shock when I emailed my measurements over'
Sunday 10 October 2010
Nina Persson, 36, is a Swedish singer best known as the frontwoman of indie-pop group the Cardigans, whose hits include 'Lovefool' and 'Erase/Rewind'. She has also released two acclaimed albums with side-project A Camp. She lives in New York with her husband
We first met through my oldest girlfriend from Sweden – I think it was around 10 years ago. She works in this graphic-design collective, and they shared these studios with Peter, which I always visited when I was in London. It's a really intimate space, so I would always see his clothes and admire them. When I first met him, he was very shy but very sweet. His mentality reminds me of [that whole group] of friends, actually: very soft spoken, but very expressive at the same time.
We started to form a relationship independent [of other friends] when he started making some outfits for me, but it's really in the past year that our relationship has intensified. He asked me if I'd be up for doing the music for his show at New York Fashion Week. It was his first time showing there, and I was really lucky to be in a period when I wasn't doing too much. I did it with my husband and we decided to perform a kind of mixtape of covers: a bunch of sweet songs, like "Solitaire", which the Carpenters recorded, and "Free Will and Testament" by Robert Wyatt. I loved getting into that world for a day – being backstage with models, getting my hair done – but on my own terms. He also dressed me for the show. It was really funny because I'd just found out I was pregnant, and I don't think I'd told him yet, and I emailed my measurements over, and [his office] emailed back saying "Are you sure?", and they were polite enough not to say "You sound really fat."
We had really a fun time working together because we started to geek out about music and songs and movies we liked. I always find talking about music and movies is the key to anybody's heart. I really trust his [cultural] tastes and we're always exchanging recommendations.
I don't think Peter is typical of people in the fashion business. He has a quietness about him and I think he's a bit like me: we both feel "I don't really know what I'm doing here but I'm just doing what I know how to do." We're outsiders, but voluntary outsiders. I think we're also both similar in that we don't really have pretensions about our artistry, or see it as something holy. That might be because we both come from small-town environments where being creative isn't put on a pedestal.
I really admire the way he continues coming up with fun, unexpected themes [in his work]. A couple of years ago, he spent time in Greenland and it influenced his next collection. That's something I strive for in my music, to create my own parallel world and not just follow wherever the industry in general is flowing.
Peter Jensen, 40, is a Danish fashion designer, known for his quirky, whimsical collections. He set up his eponymous label 10 years ago, and has also designed capsule collections for the likes of Topshop and Fred Perry. He lives in north London with his partner
The first time I met Nina was in 2001, when she was meant to perform for our spring-collection catwalk show but unfortunately 9/11 happened and she was living in America so we couldn't do it. Nina went to school with a graphic-designer friend of ours so that's how we came to be introduced. We went to a concert she gave and had a few drinks beforehand.
You can be a bit taken aback when you meet someone that famous, especially if they have quite a personal significance as Nina and her music do for me. But it was lovely. I became a fan of the Cardigans when they released their first album Emmerdale, back when I used to go out to clubs. They were played a lot, and [their music] sparked something off with me: it had that easy listening style, which connected with the way me and my friends used to dress at the time, which was like we had been spat out from the 1950s.
We did a few things for her in the meantime – clothing for her concerts and a dress that she wore at the MTV Music Awards – but it was a while before I saw her properly again, some years.
I think we get on because we are both laid back, a bit lazy even. Nina comes from the side of Sweden closest to Denmark which makes us similar. People who come from Stockholm are a different breed but where Nina is from is quite Danish. We look at a lot of things in the same way – for example we were saying how when we watch an Ingmar Bergman film we find great humour in it, whereas I don't think English people tend to see it like that.
I think Nina has come through to the other side in terms of fame – she was so famous with the Cardigans and now she's doing her own thing, it's a little quieter. What I like about her is she is so confident and relaxed about what she does. When she gets off stage, she's her normal self again and just wants to have a few drinks. I'm fascinated by the fact that she can go and sing in front of people, because I couldn't imagine anything worse. I suppose the qualities you most admire in others are those you don't have yourself.
Peter Jensen's autumn collection is available from B Store, 24a Savile Row, London W1 (020 7734 6846, bstorelondon.com)
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