With majestic landscapes, silvery seas and rugged coastlines, Icelanders have a special connection to their land. Growing up in Reykjavík, emerging designer Hilda Gunnarsdóttir has found artistic inspiration in her native Iceland all her life. To find out more, Atlas had a chat with this home-grown talent, uncovering why Iceland’s fashion scene is thriving.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a suburb in Reykjavík called Grafarvogur. It was very new when we moved there, with very few houses and it felt a lot like living in the countryside.
When did fashion first present itself in your life?
I’m not sure, but creation in general presented itself very early on. Or my mother presented it to me. She was constantly encouraging me to draw, paint etc. and she helped me sew my own clothes. I’m not sure we should call those experiments fashion, but they can definitely be called creation. My parents also travelled a lot in Iceland with my sister and I and they always put emphasis on us noticing our environment, teaching us names of birds and wild flowers and pointing out colours in the mountains or the sky. I think this might have had the biggest impact on me.
When did you launch your brand Milla Snorasson and what was the inspiration behind the brand and name?
I launched it in 2012. The name comes from my great grandmother’s sister. I didn’t want to use my own name but wanted a name that meant something to me and was easily found online. I also think it looks good. For the brand, I wanted to make interesting and artistic, easy to wear clothes that weren’t too restricting. I was also very interested in using Iceland’s nature and culture for inspiration in a new and non-clichéd way. Producing clothes that are made with respect for people, the environment and animals has also become one of my biggest focus points.
Your brand epitomizes Scandinavian effortlessness and elegance, incorporating Iceland’s beautiful nature into the prints of each collection. Can you talk me through the creative process of your work and how you choose where your graphic forms derive from?
I have started travelling locally for each collection. For my last collection, Vondugil, I did a four-day hike with my girlfriends in Iceland’s highlands. I became fascinated with graphic forms made by snow in the mountains, which I used for my prints. When I started designing the print I used ink to draw them by hand. I also used photographs of surface, rocks and sands from the trip. For my 2015 collection, Strákagil, I used wild flowers I photographed in Þórsmörk, I always find something inspiring on my trips.
Do you have a favourite piece in your current collection?
The blue dress is definitely my favourite. It just feels so special. But I use the striped leggings the most day-to-day.
Do you have any tips or advice for any other young aspiring designers?
Trust your gut and don’t try to please anybody but yourself in your creation, that’s the only way it can become interesting.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration?
Iceland is always my biggest inspiration. It’s actually a bit of a cliché here locally, but I just can’t help myself!
Where can our readers keep up with you and your work?
Article By Jessica-Christin Hametner