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SEASON 2, EPISODE 3
The swan in the room
(with Techno Prayer)

If you didn’t know who Björk was before this podcast, there was probably one thing you did know about her: her swan dress. And while that dress does capture the audacity of Björk's style, it also obscures the sheer variety of her looks.

That’s something that Federico Protto brings to light through his Instagram. He runs a Björk fashion archive project called @techno_prayer on Instagram. He's also an accomplished designer who helped design a dress for Björk.

Here we'll talk about five looks from the Bjork fashion archives. Federico will explain what they look like, who designed them, and why they matter. 

And don’t worry… we will address the swan in the room.

 
 

TRANSCRIPT

Savannah: If you didn’t know who Bjork was before this podcast, there was probably one thing you did know about her: her swan dress.

The dress she wore to the Academy Awards is so iconic, that it became a pop culture symbol all on its own. It’s been parodied on The Simpsons, Hannah Montana, and most recently iCarly. Ellen Degeneres wore an imitation of it in 2001 when she hosted The Emmys.

[Emmys clip]

And while that dress does capture the audacity of Bjork’s style, it also obscures the sheer variety of Bjork’s looks. 

That’s something that Federico Protto brings to light through his Instagram.

Federico: My name is Federico Proto. My artist name is Federico Luz. And I run Techno Prayer on Instagram, which is a Bjork fashion archive project. It's linked to my work as artistic researcher here in Brussels, where I live and work where I try to investigate around fashion and sound 

 

Savannah: Federico is an accomplished designer who explores the connections between fashion and sound — the perfect combination for a subject like Bjork. In fact, while working for the Icelandic designer Hildur Yeoman, he actually helped design a dress for Bjork.

Federico: It was quite unexpected because I was supposed to leave already Iceland to return to University. And then my boss called me while I was having five days off and doing, like, a hitchhike trip in the vest yards. And the connection of the phones are very, like, bad when you're in remote places in Iceland. And I could just hear, like, SOS I need your help. Bjork... dress... concert. And I was like, ahh freaking out in the middle of nowhere, not able to run back to Reykjavik to start working on


So once I was back, I prolonged my stay for two more weeks. And then we started designing the dresses. And when we went to the fittings, I was like, I felt like a statue. You know, I was just like, this is so surreal. I was really expecting that. I mean, I have seen Bjork on the streets in Reykjavik several times because it's a small city and people are just out and about


But that meant something totally else to, you know, really need your idol. But I think I hope I was very professional because I was just the designers assistant. So I was not, like, pushing myself to the foreground or telling any stories. I was trying to do my job and do my job well. And I hope I hope it went well. She wore one of the dresses, one of Helder's designs for the Royal Albert Hall concert in 2016. It's kind of like this glow in the dark, kind of jellyfish ish


And I went to the show also, and it was just, like, heart stopping moment to also see the his work, kind of which I contributed to on stage. That was great.

Savannah: In this episode, we’re going to talk about five looks from the Bjork fashion archives. Federico will explain what they look like, who designed them, and why they matter. To help you follow along, I’ll include a link in the show notes with the looks we’re discussing.

 

And don’t worry… we will address the swan in the room. 

Federico discovered Bjork when he was a teenager growing up near Munich, Germany. While rifling through the music collection at a public library, he discovered an album cover that intrigued him. Medulla.

 

Federico: And so I think from the beginning there was something very visual about Bjork's work. Which was very impressive to me... So I totally dived into plunged into the whole archive of music. And I got really obsessed because for me, it was like, never heard before. And I felt kind of represented in my maybe weirdness or difference. So for time I became older, I decided to do fashion design as a main thing. And this kind of love for Bjork's looks and choices and eccentricity were always kind of a driving force for my work also.

Savannah: I asked Federico to choose five of his favorite Bjork looks, but with a few caveats. I didn’t want to talk about the obvious ones like the outfits she wore on album covers. Okay, except the swan dress but that one had to be confronted.