She lies in the grass, a dark silhouette with a bright pink flower in her hair, her bike next to her in a slightly less graceful position, soaking in the icelandic evening sun. It looks almost too perfect and peaceful, I don’t want to come closer and interrupt this idyll.
She is wearing a long black skirt designed and made by hers truly, which gives the already tall Elín endless legs, and I have a hard time keeping up with her while we walk through the streets of Reykjavík. It is mid-July, so the sun never sets in the world’s smallest metropole.
“So, I have this idea”, she says as soon as I have disrupted the evening snooze. “You’re going to love it!” – I already do. She proceeds telling me about all kinds of architectural details that she will work into her next masterpiece. It sounds like nothing I have ever seen before, but the way she describes it, I can already see Lady Gaga wearing it on the red carpet.
Like with all of her designs, Elín is aware of the many hours that will go into the piece. She is a fan of the finished project with a lot of small, perfect details, but the making of it can sometimes be a real pain. “I guess, it’s somewhat of a love-hate relationship. I have an idea, or maybe more of an already finished image in my head, then I only have to realise it. Even though I sometimes get angry with myself, like ‘why did I have to make it this complicated?!’ the result is always worth the hard work. Having such a clear image of the result keeps me going.”

Introducing the new voice in Icelandic fashion, Elín Atim, who is ready to take on the world.

Icelandic design is known for being clean, classic, and ‘inspired by the icelandic nature’.
How do you fit into this image as a designer?
“Fitting in has never been my thing, even if I wanted to. Just look at me! I am one of just a few coloured people in Iceland, I’m tall, I’m bound to stand out. At first, I was rather unhappy with constantly being on everyone’s radar, never being just one in the crowd. We’re trained to be more or less the same, homogeneity is so deeply rooted in our culture, that I even convinced myself that I was white, like everyone else. It took me some time to realise that standing out actually isn’t that bad after all. Instead of desperately fighting against being noticed, why not owning my place in the spotlight? And with fashion, I stand out beautifully!
They say icelandic design is so close to nature, yet it’s so monotonous – icelandic nature on the other hand is crazy. Everyone tries to look the same, but if you have a closer look at our nature, you’ll see how unpredictable it is. There are not a lot of countries that have this much variety on such a small surface. With this in mind, I sometimes get a little frustrated with icelandic fashion. I think it’s time to recognise all the inspirational sources we have in this country and embrace the spotlight that the world has put us in. There is so much potential. I have this vision, you know, that real icelandic design is going to be out of this world!”
She has the same look on her face, like when telling me about her latest idea for a design, and I know how hard she is going to work to finish just another of her masterpieces. The world is going to love it – I know that I already do.

October 1, 2017

Text and photos: Emily Reise