portrait of Pauline Cappelen from Adornment Studio

Pauline Cappelen together with Susanne Holmsater have created their own charming island of vintage treasures called Adornment Studios based in Stockholm, Sweden. A perfect place for slightly idle individual who appreciates great style and beautiful fabrics but would rather prioritise sipping coffee with their friends at the weekends than going for a several hour long search for vintage gems through the local charity shops. This job is left to Pauline who is witty, warm and not only has the most exquisite style but is also  a state-of-the-art vintage hunter.

We got a chance to sit down for an interview with her to find out how she together with Susanne designed a place where their customers are able to enjoy a glass of prosecco or a cup of coffee whilst trying on the most beautiful curation of pre-loved garments which, in addition, can be tailored for them, then and there.

In order to excel in the modern world it is extremely  valuable  to have a vast range of skills. Pauline’s portfolio includes environmental studies in Stockholm, then studying art, thereafter sewing and later on, along with other fashion jobs, she started working at Nina Ricci in Paris as a studio assistant working with seamstresses. Pauline says that for her ‘no’ is the first step towards ‘yes’. She tells that whilst still working at Nina Ricci she was given an advice that she must decide on one thing to do: “Would you like to do  tailoring, would you like to do drawing and designing?” she was challenged. However, she was left wondering why isn’t there a single  job for the entire concept. The best guidance she got was from her aunt whilst spending her time in the US. She said that: “You can do whatever you like! Just start by taking the decision – ok, I am going to be on my own now.”

coffee cups and milk jug on a table
emroidered belt laid down on a white table

Pauline explained: “So I did that, I left everything – applying to all these fashion jobs. I wanted to do something completely on my own. So I had a small amount of money and I went on my first buying trip. It was such an amazing experience just to take all this money and buy whatever you like from these second-hand vintage markets. Since I have been living in Paris and also in London, I have my special diamond places where I would go. I know the people there and it was very easy for me to go home with a suitcase full of just adornments. Beautiful things that are very unique. Since I also worked in Italian fabric factory for a couple of months, I know material and for me the fabric is everything.” She quickly noticed that her friends really loved what she had bought and in no time everything was sold. Before opening her studio space Pauline would turn her apartment into a showroom. “My boyfriend was like there is glitter everywhere! Sequins and glitter, and gold! I don’t know what to do with myself. We can’t even have dinners anymore.” But that wouldn’t stop her and every Saturday when a customer would call, in 15 min she would turn the apartment into a showroom.

There were like bachelorette parties and things like that and I hosted them in my little apartment. I could close two doors so they could do whatever they like in one room. They could have prosecco or have coffee and then they came out and we would do the tailoring for them and things like that. So that’s how I started.

Approximately 7 months ago she partnered with Susanne. “She is such a warm person and welcomes everyone, she always has these ideas about what should be the next step.” Pauline tells that originally she was talking with Susanne about her becoming a model for Adornment but as she was also looking for a career change and wanted to go into fashion they partnered up and as Pauline explained: “We really found each other and by having her in the company, Adornment grew  into what it is now.”

Creating the vision for Adornment Studios also meant that the selected garments would have to be both – of a great quality, unique, timeless and additionally wouldn’t empty ones wallet every time they shop.

Our costumers can come in here and buy a pair of jeans and a top and a jacket at the same time and it still doesn’t cost them a fortune.

They would also advice on how to take care of the garment as they believe that someday it would be passed onto someone else. Pauline explains that they never want to point a finger to anyone who doesn’t shop sustainably instead they want to educate on how to choose and take care of the garments even if you shop on the high street. On their website you can find a simple  breakdown of benefits and disadvantages of diverse fabrics and tips on how to repair your garments. “I am a maniac when it comes to those kind of things, I love fabric and I love to know how to take care of all of them and I know all these old fashioned tricks how to remove stains and fix and repair – all those kind of things.” Occasionally they would also do some adjustments on the acquired garments in order to make a more up-to-date version that would be easier to wear for the modern customer. Sometimes they say that a customer might not immediately see how a garment could be worn, therefore, Adornment Studios create online editorials as a part of their platform. Pauline tells: “Sometimes, for example, maybe girls don’t understand this kind of dress but if we put it together with a pair of a smart jeans underneath and cool boots and a jacket you know… ok, we can relate to that now. And we are very lucky to have so many beautiful woman around here to just call and say like, ok, what time can you meet us? Then we would bring everything and say – you just can be who you are and we are going to photograph.”

photo of working Pauline Cappelen from Adornment Studio
clothes folded on a wooden chair

Pauline explains that unfortunately the reality is something that majority of people don’t realise – even if they bring the garments that they no longer wear to charity shops if they are not sold there they go off to Africa where the local market of artisans and craftsmanship is outcompeted by this. Pauline says that she can’t live with that. “I don’t actually understand how you can create any type of brand today without considering the environment. Sometimes I hear people coming up with these ideas and I am always curious how is the environment involved in this.” She laughs and tells that:

Me and Susanne are dedicated to make this last and I said 300 hundred years and then we can consider something else.

Pauline travels once a month to such vintage capitals like London, Paris, Berlin, LA and others. She also mentions Antwerp as unexpectedly good place for vintage, saying that it is worth going there just for Dries Van Notens’ sake. Yet, not all of it is as glamorous. “It is like Ryanair 6:30am flights. I leave 3:30am with two suitcases and come to London. Up doing all the markets and I know all the people and hectic, hectic, hectic and then a couple of hours later I am on the plane home.” 

However finding a gem in a bottom of a pile is all worth it. At Adornment Studios they love to imagine where a garment has been an what it has gone through.

Like that jacket (as she points at one of the beautiful garments hanging on the side) must have rocked something somewhere in the 1960s, must have had so much fun, you can see it on the stage. For example, a skirt like that – can you even think of a boring time in that skirt? (As she shows a long black Kenzo skirt)

Lastly she tells: “Yesterday there were a couple of customers here and they where all going to this gala that is taking place tomorrow night and they where all looking for, you know, long dresses and things like that and seeing these girls standing in front of me and they all feel very beautiful they all found garments that fit them individually and that was just… every time that happens I am like, wow, you are so beautiful! I can’t even take credit for that because I didn’t create the garments, I just find them, I just have been out there digging for it. I am glad to be that middle hand delivering that garment from, for example, Berlin and now its my friend Louisa having it on her, you know, it is just, it is cool!”

ADORNMENT | curated vintage clothing

ENVIRONMENT | carefully curated vintage garments

PHOTOGRAPHY: Madara Freimane | ARTICLE: What’s Your Legacy | SUB-EDITOR: Liva Galina

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