When Danish designer Christian Juul Nielsen left the likes of Dior, Nina Ricci and Oscar de la Renta, it was in search of new beginnings. For him, that meant creating something entirely new for the modern woman in his independent label Aknvas.

Aknvas, pronounced “ah-canvas,” is a brand where the sharp tailoring and fabrication of menswear weave seamlessly into the femininity of womenswear. Case in point: a burnt orange trouser featuring the perfect pleat.

Hard-working women are the muse behind his desk-to-dinner design philosophy, which is one of the reasons we were so eager to chat with the NY-based designer. Read on to hear the latest from Nielsen.


Describe your brand in 5 words or less.

Effortless, chic, comfortable, modern and powerful.

What’s the inspiration behind this collection?

Spending time with real women. I wanted to create a brand for my friends—working women wanting to look powerful.

What are your must-rent pieces from the collection and why?

The Angelina Blouse. It’s a statement piece and a must-rent, ideally with the Christian Trousers. In my opinion, pants are the most difficult thing to create for women, that’s why I like designing them. The Gwyneth Dress is just a really cool city dress—easy to wear in whatever situation.

Give us your bio in one sentence.

Danish/French couture-trained designer currently living in New York.

How do you get into the creative zone?

I look at what I have to get done that day, and then I look at my research and take myself into the mood I need creatively, whether I am working on a press piece or an easy-fit work pant.

Any latest reads, podcasts or shows that are inspiring you?

I am currently reading Just Kids by Patti Smith. It’s about her friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe, and I’m very drawn into it. I have to say I thought The Politician was a fun and entertaining show—kinda obsessed with Gwyneth Paltrow’s role.

Favorite part of your day?

About 10:20am when I’ve had my practical meetings and have done my emails, and I can start being creative.

When the day’s over, how do you unwind?

Gym and wine.

First fashion memory:

My mum took me to a bridal fashion show. I still have photos (kinda tragic).

Biggest fashion regret:

I used to wear pajamas to work.

Current fashion crush:

Indya Moore in Pose.

Personal fashion icon:

Lego, I try to look like one. If you pull off the wig, you will get what I mean.

The most memorable person you’ve dressed?

Jennifer Lawrence when she tripped getting her Oscar.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I eat so much licorice. I don’t stop till the bag is empty.

What’s your most treasured piece of clothing?

Currently a pair of oversized Stefano Pilati pants for YSL that I bought about 10 years ago.