Ever since it was established in 1999, Epice has chosen to offer a unique perspective of its design studio in Copenhagen combined with the ancestral know-how of its weavers in India. During their travels and stays throughout India, Bess Nielsen and Jan Machenhauer, co-founders of the Epice brand, found the very best artisans to make their first stoles.
“Weaving, embroidery... can only be done in India. We tried in France and other European countries, but the result lacked poetry, not to say folly” confides Bess.
Weavers are a highly respected group in India and are usually organized around villages. The men are on the looms and the women are responsible for making the yarn bobbins. Among other things, these white yarn bobbins are used for jacquard weaves. The nobility of their dexterity is fully expressed. After carefully considering the size, thread, colour and association of original patterns, the pieces are woven and printed by hand. The weavers will spend a whole day weaving a 2-meter piece of cloth when the weave is not too complex. But when a stole combines silk and cotton, or requires a jacquard weave, the time spent working on the stole is at least a day and a half.
“We particularly like a weave with a jacquard border - the jacquard pattern is woven in colour using dyed yarns and the white fabric is then printed between the two borders” explains Jamal Nielsen - the brand’s CEO. Each piece is unique and designed to be a piece of art. When they are not working for Epice Paris or another brand, these artisans continue to masterfully weave traditional saris.
But because they are becoming too expensive for the local market, which prefers machine-made saris, they are increasingly hired to work in the building trade where they perform thankless tasks, far from the noblesse of their expertise. Which is why the manufacturer who subcontracts weaving for Epice commits to buying the entire production, irrespective of any rejects based on the brand’s criteria of excellence. With regular production for more than 20 years, in its own way Epice Paris has helped keep this exceptional craft alive and given its weavers and their families a living.
The summer 2021 collection has been inspired by the atmosphere of the Sommer Hus - Danish summer houses that were originally built on allotments on the outskirts of the big cities, especially around Copenhagen – a place where people could cultivate a vegetable garden if they did not live in or near a rural area.
Koloni Have Hus
Then from the post-war’s, the State allowed small wooden houses to be built as holiday homes, close to the seaside. In fact, in order to compensate for the suffering and deprivation caused by the war, the state offered Danes the opportunity to have a house close to their home in which to spend weekends or holidays with their families.
These garden house communities, commonly called “Koloni Have Hus” were however - and still are - subject to strict rules: it is forbidden to live there all year round, only during the season, from May to October. In winter, the water and electricity are cut off by order of the local authorities. Although the land itself is still owned by the State, the houses belong to private individuals who can sell their property at a capped price, thus allowing people on the most modest incomes to own one.
The good life
In a country with heavy skies and long, dark winters, it is easy to imagine what these Sommer Hus near the sea represented for their owners. The promise of a wonderful escape where time stands still, an awakening of the senses in a garden in full bloom, the smell of green grass, bird song and the sun’s rays warming their skin. Still today, it is a time for relaxation, aperitifs with friends, and lazy family meals; a time for laughter and happiness close at hand. It has always been and still is all about holidays with the draw of the beach and a vibrant blue sea.