OSLO FASHION WEEK

Meet Josefine Frida Pettersen, Norway’s Answer to Blake Lively

The 20 year-old star of the hit series Skam talks newfound fame as she models the best looks from Oslo Fashion Week.


Photo by Nick Thompson, styled by Yael Quint. Visual Editor: Biel Parklee. Hair and makeup by Style Management. Special thanks to Grand Hotel Oslo.

“It’s been pretty…weird,” says 20 year-old Norwegian actress Josefine Frida Pettersen of her newfound fame. Her high-pitched, girlish English is timid and deliberate.

We are in a gilded suite at the historic Grand Hotel in Oslo, having double espressos and kale salads, about to shoot her wearing a portfolio of designers who are about to show at the upcoming Oslo Fashion Week. She says that this is the first fashion shoot she has ever done, and that despite starring as Noora Sætre in Norway’s record-breaking hit series Skam, she has hardly done any interviews, either.

“Things have changed so much since the show, since I’ve become…known,” she says. You can tell she is hesitant to say the word “famous.”

After all, fame is a strange thing in Norway. It’s not understood the way it is in America. Consider how many American celebrities there are, and how much American entertainment is exported globally. Then try to name one Norwegian celebrity. The country’s population is just over 5 million (a bit smaller than the state of Minnesota), and the majority of people live in remote towns and villages up and down the country’s coast, which is roughly the size of the United States’ eastern seaboard. So when an average of 1.2 million people tune in every to watch your show–that’s proportionally the same as Americans who watched the Friends series finale in 2004, except this is every week–it can feel any semblance of private life you once enjoyed has dissipated like wind through the fjords.

“It’s weird sometimes,” says Pettersen of how she navigates her newfound notoriety. “Like when people take pictures of me while I’m sleeping at the airport, or while I’m eating.” When you have 800,000 Instagram followers, you’re bound to attract a few weirdos. She smiles at me, laughs, and says, “But if that’s the kind of picture you want, I guess, here you go!”

Josefine Frida Pettersen Models the Best of Oslo Fashion Week

Mona Jensen started Tom Wood in 2013 as a collection of of chunky silver rings that were an instant hit. Over the last four years, she has slowly added ready-to-wear into the mix, with an emphasis on denim and statement outerwear, and as of this season, eyewear, as well. Tom Wood has quickly become a staple of Oslo’s fashion community, as well as a leader in developing Norway’s presence on the global stage. The brand can be found at some of the world’s leading specialty retailers including Dover Street Market, Barneys New York, The Line, Harrod’s and Isetan, and is favored by the likes of Helena Christensen, Caroline de Maigret and Jared Leto. “Norwegian designers have a slightly practical approach to design,” says Jensen. “Hand-picked materials and great craftsmanship support the idea of giving each single piece a long life. The design is focused on functional, timeless and relaxed silhouettes.”

Tom Wood sweater, brief, and socks. Photo by Nick Thompson, styled by Yael Quint. Visual Editor: Biel Parklee. Hair by Nikola Grozdic at Style Management, makeup by Linda Wickmann at Style Management. Special thanks to Grand Hotel Oslo.

After only two years at the Instituto Europeo di Design in Milan, Cathrine Hammel left school, grabbed her sketches, and hopped on plane to Hong Kong to find factories in order to start her own brand. “My idea was to create high-quality basis in knitwear and jersey for luxury and high-end stores,” she says. With nothing more than a small savings account and a steadfast goal, Hammel made her vision a reality. Today, her pared-back basics are among Oslo’s best offerings. “It was a long and bumpy road, but we are a solid company now, and I’m still the only owner. Fearlessness, determination and hard, hard work is crucial,” she says. “And some luck, of course.”

Cathrine Hammel dress. Tom Wood sweater, brief, and socks. Photo by Nick Thompson, styled by Yael Quint. Visual Editor: Biel Parklee. Hair by Nikola Grozdic at Style Management, makeup by Linda Wickmann at Style Management. Special thanks to Grand Hotel Oslo.

Tine Mollatt began her three decade long career working for fast-fashion retailers.“I was sick of the greediness,” she says of her decision to go off and start something of her own. “I wanted to create with truthfulness and consciousness in every part of the pipeline. byTiMo creates garments honestly and with integrity, bringing modern romance to timeless craftsmanship.” Every aspect of production–from fabric to factory–is vetted for its quality and corporate responsibility. The brand also recently started a social entrepreneurship program that employs women who have previously been victims of abuse or trafficking. As for the clothes themselves, there is a vintage mood to Mollatt’s collections that feels nostalgic without looking dated. Romantic styles are updated with precise tailoring and modern manufacture, and all colors and prints are developed exclusively in-house. The concept has certainly taken off–byTiMo is currently stocked in over 500 stores worldwide.

byTiMo gown. Tom Wood sweater, brief, and socks. Photo by Nick Thompson, styled by Yael Quint. Visual Editor: Biel Parklee. Hair by Nikola Grozdic at Style Management, makeup by Linda Wickmann at Style Management. Special thanks to Grand Hotel Oslo.

“Right now there are a lot of interesting things happening in Norway when it comes to design,” says Maria Skappel Holzweiler, founder of Holzweiler. “There is such a great tradition of handicraft here, and I believe that right now there is a change happening in how people think of our design… Classic doesn’t have to be boring.” Holzweiler started as a line of luxury cashmere, silk and wool scarves in 2012, before expanding into ready-to-wear in 2014. Each collection references different Norwegian artists and influencers, with Fall 2017 drawing inspiration from painter Edvard Munch’s work, including The Scream, and, coincidentally, Josefine Petterson’s character from SKAM. “Noora is one of my muses for this collection,” says Holzweiler. “She is strong, independent, has a great taste for fashion, and dares to be different.” The result of mixing a fictional teenager with Munch? Colorful coats and covetable knits that together are nothing short of scream-wothy.

Holzweiler coat and sweater. Tom Wood sweater, brief, and socks. Photo by Nick Thompson, styled by Yael Quint. Visual Editor: Biel Parklee. Hair by Nikola Grozdic at Style Management, makeup by Linda Wickmann at Style Management. Special thanks to Grand Hotel Oslo.

Sometimes being away from the major fashion capitals can lead to creative freedom. Such was the case for Christina Ledang, founder of the brand C.L.E.A.N. (a name drawn from her own initials). “I think the international fashion world is still very unfamiliar with Norwegian fashion,” she explains. “Therefore there aren’t so many expectations as to what Norwegian designers are supposed to make.” Case in point? C.L.E.A.N.’s debut collection in 2011 was made entirely out of latex, and became an overnight sensation with Norway’s magazines and bloggers. Since then, Ledang has expanded her brand into more wearable signatures, like branded tees and belts that recall the days of logo-mania. “There is a very broad spectrum of designers here,” she says. “And we are all in the process of shaping what Norwegian fashion looks like. It’s a very exciting time. We are not bound by the minimalistic aesthetic that is the connotation of Scandinavian fashion, therefore we are free to do what we want.”

Christina Ledang shirt, coat, and belt. Tom Wood sweater, brief, and socks. Photo by Nick Thompson, styled by Yael Quint. Visual Editor: Biel Parklee. Hair by Nikola Grozdic at Style Management, makeup by Linda Wickmann at Style Management. Special thanks to Grand Hotel Oslo.
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Skam has been all-consuming in Scandinavia, and is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. It’s a teenage web and television drama tackling issues like sex, coming out, drinking and mental health, placing it firmly in the pantheon of such shows as Skins, Degrassi, and Gossip Girl.

But in addition to weekly episodes, Skam keeps its audience hooked by tapping into this generation’s all-consuming obsession with social media. Multi-platform media are shared in real-time: Noora’s texts to her boyfriend on a Tuesday night are shared as screenshots on the show’s website on a Tuesday night; a scene at school on a Thursday morning is posted on a Thursday morning; and characters post to their “real” social media accounts throughout the week. Because of the show’s unique format, Pettersen’s portrayal of Noora–known for her outspoken nature and unwillingess to compromise her feminist values–goes way beyond just forming a highly likable character. She feels like your best friend.

Part of being friends with someone, as Pettersen has come to find out, is taking cues from their style. Women across Norway have started copycatting Noora’s signature look: a platinum bob and crimson lip. Back to the Friends analogy, it’s not unlike “The Rachel” haircut phenomenon. “It’s weird. Now when I walk around Oslo, and I see people from behind, I find myself thinking, ‘Am I crazy?’ Everyone started copying Noora’s style.”

The irony is that Pettersen is not a big fan of the look herself. “They first cut my hair when I was cast, and I was saying, ‘I hate this! It is so ugly!’ … And now when I get my hair cut I always try to say, ‘Oh, they’re making Noora grow it out,’ so they leave it long. But there’s no lying when I come to set…I hate to crush the fans but it’s the truth.”

But beyond the covetable style, Pettersen’s character allows the actress to delve into heavy topics that make Skam just as important when it comes to addressing social issue. In Season Two, Noora’s arc includes an alleged sexual assault and the difficult decision to eventually report it to the police. “After that episode,” says Pettersen, “I got so many messages on Instagram from fans that said, ‘I was raped three years ago and today I told my parents, because of your character.’ That touches me. It makes me very happy to know that people don’t see it as just a show. It actually touches people and helps girls feel stronger.”

Scandanavian Street Style: See the Best Looks from Oslo Fashion Fall 2016

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Off-screen Pettersen’s ease and sense of reality sets her apart from so many others her age who achieve such a level of fame. “I have such good friends and family, and spend time with the same people as I did before, so not much has changed in that regard,” she says. “I don’t want people to think I know any better than them. I’m only twenty, like everyone else who watches the show. I have insecurities and flaws, too… And I’m much goofier than my character.”

In many ways, Pettersen still acts like a regular twenty-year-old, with habits and hobbies just like the rest of us. We catch her singing Lady Gaga songs to herself in between takes on set. She keeps a list on her phone of her favorite places to find a good margarita. And she also admits to writing down, at least once every day, a conversation she overhears in public. “Sometimes you’re in a dressing room and you hear girlfriends in the next stalls and they are having a lovely conversation. You think about it for two minutes, it makes an impression, but then you forget it forever. I think it’s beautiful to write it down — then you can look at it a year later and you remember that whole day.”

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