All Good

The problem with organic skincare products is knowing whether they’re organic or not – so popular is the concept of using artificial additive-free products on our face and body that many brands claim organic status regardless of whether they are certified. Gaining trust and finding a reputable brand that actually practises what it preaches is not always easy, as Brigitte Geisser, Retreatment brand developer at Byron Bay’s beautiful Gaia Retreat & Spa, found out.

“We get approached a lot by skincare groups to stock products in the spa,” says Geisser. “But I didn’t want to work with chemicals, as that doesn’t suit the Gaia ethos. I wanted to work with natural products, but high-quality ones … I wanted integrity and heart, and I couldn’t find what I wanted on the market.”

It was from this necessity that the idea to develop and launch an organic skincare brand for the resort was born.

“In my 20 years of experience, I’ve never worked with chemical skincare products,” says Geisser. “I knew what was involved in launching a line of products – it can be tricky to make certified organic. It’s hard to predict the consistency of colour, smell and texture. A lot of people put it in the ‘too hard’ basket. But Gregg Cave [one of Gaia’s founders and the retreat’s director and general manager] wanted the best, so we went about finding a certified organic manufacturer.”

Geisser and her team ended up using a manufacturer in the Byron area. “They specialise in small batches, which is important because of the short shelf life of organic products. We really wanted to work hand-in-hand with the biochemists and help come up with the recipes and ideas. We wanted something that was pure but also quality and active – it had to work and have anti-ageing properties.”

The line, known as Retreatment, launched in September 2014, two years after the idea was first inked. In addition to looking local for production, Geisser and her team wanted to use antipodean ingredients whenever possible. “We have superfoods all around us here in Australia,” she says. “We incorporated Australian native extracts and essences from plants and herbs such as lilly pilly, Kakadu plum, banksia, Australian sandalwood and white cyprus. They are all high in antioxidants and vitamins C, A, E and D that visually restore and regenerate the skin … There’s a lot of goodness in there to boost skin health and healing.” The products are also infused with locally sourced macadamia and avocado oils.

While the 13 face and body Retreatment products, which are also vegan, are mostly exclusive to Gaia, Geisser has been approached by other people and companies interested in using them – it’s currently stocked in one new spa, operated by a repeat Gaia guest.

“There’s loads more in the pipeline,” says Geisser. “We’re constantly improving products as well – we look at changing the scent and active ingredients. We really want guests to have a personal connection and feel the goodness.”

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Dream Team

If you take a walk through central Copenhagen, down Strøget or a hip shopping street like Strædet, you will notice a surprising number of jewellery stores as well as jewellery displays in fashion shops alongside tables of bags and other accessories. Denmark has a proud jewellery tradition spanning decades and boasts some big names, such as Georg Jensen. But like the fashion business, new talent is making waves.

“Jewellery used to be something that women longed for as a present, but today they buy it themselves,” says fashion publisher Malene Malling. She believes what is going on with jewellery is perhaps the most interesting part of the Copenhagen design story.

“There is so much to choose from right now,” she says. “I think part of the explanation is our democratic approach to life, that the designers simply create jewellery they would like to wear themselves. And right now we are lucky to have a lot of talent.” At the exclusive end of the scale, Georg Jensen, which has been making iconic silver and gold jewellery since the brand was founded more than 100 years ago, continues to introduce new modern and sculptural collections. Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen is another label that never ceases to create luxury jewellery for every woman, whether she likes her accessories modern or feminine.

Ole Lynggaard Copenhagen was one of three nominees for Jewellery Brand of the Year at the 2015 Elle Style Awards. The prize ended up going to Danish-Israeli Orit Elhanati for her unique “Scandinavia meets the Middle East” aesthetic, but designer Charlotte Lynggaard took home the prize for Style Icon of the Year. The title was awarded not just for her jewellery but for her “extremely sound and perfect blend of the pure Nordic and adventurous Asian to a timeless modern style”.

Other jewellery brands strive to offer affordable luxury, echoing back again to that Danish-industry adage “fashion for all”. Decades ago, Dyrberg/Kern was one of the first jewellery brands to move the coveted accessories out of the look-but-don’t-touch shops to inside fashion stores. Considering the pure aesthetics of Danish fashion, jewellery can often make a big difference in expressing one’s personality, so it’s important prices aren’t out of reach.

Trendsetting jewellery brands to watch range from Sophie Bille Brahe, who, according to Malling, is an inspiration to many designers; to punk-influenced Maria Black; and Katrine Kristensen, whose playful earrings are worn by such fashion icons as Lady Gaga. The saying Danish fashion is for everyone might not be strictly true, but the design scene is certainly not minimalistic anymore – it’s bursting at the seams.

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