Shopping in other countries is hard when you live in New York City. Many times, I've come back from a trip with an item I thought was something I could only get overseas, and soon thereafter I find it in a store on 5th avenue.
So, when I went to Norway, I was determined to find clothing that was unique to the land of the midnight sun.
Armed with suggestions from a posh guidebook, I set off for the shopping district of Oslo. Although Secret Society had a well-edited selection of clothing from Alexander Wang to Martin Margiela, when I inquired about Norwegian designers, the girl working there only had a few scarves in stock. Disappointed, I continued on to Bogstadveien Street.
While Norway's Scandinavian neighbor, Sweden, was widely represented in the little boutiques with brands like Acne and Tiger, true Norwegian brands were illusive. I began to think that maybe in a country with a population of less than 5 million (NYC has 8 million), there just weren't that many fashion designers around . . .
Coming up empty-handed in Olso, I left a few days later for the seaport town of Bergen, just in time for their national holiday on May 17th. On the morning of the 17th, my boyfriend and I walked out the door of our hotel, and came face to face with thousands of people dressed in the most beautiful costumes. My boyfriend turned to me and pointed out that I might have something to blog about after all.
The traditional Norwegian costume is called a bunad. They are covered with elaborate embroidery and ribbon and worn with beautiful silver brooches and other shiny jewelry. The various versions of the costume indicate what region the wearer is from.
This is some of the jewelry that I saw in a shop window.
This is one of the purses up-close. The women wear them on their belts. Look at the beautiful details!
Seeing thousands of Norwegians, men, women, and children, all in traditional dress, was thrilling. And the pride and excitement over getting dressed in these fantastic garments was apparent. It was something you could never see in New York City . . . or anywhere but Norway, for that matter.