When Denise Shardlow, principle designer at ERNSTdottir is asked why she’s so passionate about coats, she describes how designing is akin to sculpting. She recounts all the possibilities of fabrics, silhouettes and embellishments. She talks about how wearing a fabulous coat on a dreary day can shift your mood. She tries to convince you that EVERYONE MUST have at least one coat in their favorite color!!!!
.... Then enthusiastically, partner in ERNSTdottir, Glenn Kohler, begins to tell his story...
"We were in London vacationing right before the Christmas Holiday.
Denise designed us both new coats just for the occasion.
So, here we were, totally lost trying to find Buckingham Palace. We kept going down the same streets, asking locals for help. Finally, we stumble upon the back entrance. We turn the corner to discover that the changing of the guards was about to take place. We were thrilled by the timing and walked towards the excitement. As we approached, the crowd began parting, clearing a path for us. At this point, we could no longer mingle in with the crowd, so we just smiled at each other as we kept walking and the tourists' cameras started flashing taking our photos. Once we were on the other side of the mall, I turned to Denise and said “wasn’t that the biggest rush you ever had.”
That pretty much sums up what it’s like to wear an ERNSTdottir coat.’
Photo by Richard Carey
Custom Coats of Distinction
"I can wear a jacket that most guys won't put on. But you make it in guys' sizes and suddenly, they're wearing them. I think styles should get back to getting people to wear things that look so good that they don't care"
Shardlow was always intrigued by Iceland, since as a child, she would hear her Grandfather, Ernest Sr., say "If you want proof the Vikings roamed the British Isles, just look at my two granddaughters." Several years ago, she had the opportunity to travel to the land of the Vikings. The trip started out auspiciously when they discovered that they had been upgraded to first class while boarding the plane.
After their first day roaming around the city of Reikevek, they were befriended by the internationally known Fiber Artist, Sigrun Shanko. She introduced them to the magical landscape and recommended must see destinations. Shardlow was fascinated by the Icelandic sense of design. As an Artisan herself, she appreciated the workmanship along with their ability to weave Icelandic folklore, heritage and geography into their Art. As a coat designer, she was especially struck by the fashions. The designers used their natural resources to construct garments that reminded her of the pied, mysterious beauty of the Icelandic landscape.
The walk to the city center from their hotel was through an enchanted park-like graveyard where they would read of all the “sons & dottirs” who were there before. Shardlow joked that she would be Denise Ernstdottir.
Fast forward several years: Shardlow was having a difficult time choosing a name for her Custom Coat line which caters to both men & women. During a frustrating brainstorming session, she flippantly said “If I was Icelandic, I’d be ERNSTdottir and that would be that!”
ERNSTdottir has an old world appeal, bridges the gender gap, while implying a classic yet nostalgic sense of design.