Yvonne Koné, Accessories Designer


"My father is from the Ivory Coast, and my mother is from here, Copenhagen. He moved to Paris because he was studying to become an engineer and his father sent him—he had five brothers and it was very important to my grandfather that they all got an education, but he never finished school. That was some of my motivation as well in university, that I wouldn’t quit even when things got hard. I studied fashion design in Copenhagen and I started designing clothes after I graduated, but I wasn't so interested in fashion. It changes too much. I'm much more interested in objects—accessories and shoes. They're more steady and slow and thoughtful. I really like that.

I’m quite happy to see my designs on the street in Copenhagen—young girls and 70 year-old women wearing the same things. I designed for a few bag companies before I started my own accessories line in 2011. Now I'm trying to open up my own shop [in the U.S.] It's funny—in high school I didn’t believe that I could be a designer. That was my secret dream, but now it's come true.

Growing up felt lonely sometimes because my mother didn’t have the same skin or hair texture as me. Just the other day my daughter and I passed this hairdresser here that I went to as a kid, where they sat me down to cut my hair and didn't know what to do. There was this white lady who was just brushing it with a metal comb! It hurt so much. Now there are Afro hairdressers here, but back then, there really weren't. I remember when there weren't so many women of color to look up to [in pop culture] either. Then Neneh Cherry came, the singer, and it was such a relief to see somebody who was cool with such curly hair. That was quite inspiring. Now you have Beyoncé, and she's the most beautiful woman in the world. [Laughs]

When I was 12 I went to go work with a hairdresser who straightened my hair chemically. I was with her for two years, and those were the only two years my hair was ever straight. Now I wear it natural. And for the past eight or so years, I've been using fewer and fewer products. I'm totally dependant on Less Is More Rose Serum, just a few drops on the top of my head. I use it on dry hair and shampoo every third day with Rudolph Care's Herbal Mint Shampoo. Sometimes I'll switch that out with the Kevin Murphy Plumping Wash, and I like the Plumping Rinse, too. If I brush it, I'll use a Mason Pearson that Cim Mahony gave me.

I've been dry brushing since I was a teenager. I love it! I do it a couple days a week, in the morning after I shower. You can feel the blood rushing and after that, your skin is so completely soft. Then I add oils—Lina Hanson and Rudolph Care make really good ones. And May Lindstrom, I love. I use her The Clean Dirt as a cleanser three times a week in the shower, too. I actually found all of these brands on the website No More Dirty Looks. I like products over fashion—I definitely buy more beauty products than clothes. [Laughs]

The first thing I do to my face in the morning is apply Dr. Alkaitis Organic Soothing Gel. I introduced it to my husband and I shouldn't have done it because I don’t like to share my products and then he just kept on using it. [Laughs] It’s a mix of serum and toner—it just relaxes your skin. Then I’ll use another American product which has been my favorite for three years... it's called Yuli Panacea Elixir. I don’t do it every day, but if my skin needs a little extra care, then I’ll use it.

The Problem Solver from May Lindstrom is my favorite face mask. I’m on number five in the past three years. I told my daughter about it and now we share—we each buy half and then it’s not such a big expense. That helps with dry skin, pimples, dull skin, everything. The name is right on the spot! And there's actually another mask I have been using for eight years from a Danish brand called Amazing Space. You can leave it on for eight to 10 minutes and then wash it off. I don’t do it very often—maybe once every second week.

I wear a little makeup every day, except on weekends. I like to use MAC Studio Face and Body Foundation in C7854—it’s not a natural product at all but I really love it. I also wear Bobbi Brown's Foundation Stick in Golden because it’s not very concentrated and I like to be able to use my hands to apply it. Then I’ll use a dear friend of mine Kjaer Weis' Blush in Previous and Lip Tint in Sensuous Plum because I don’t like lipstick that much. My mascara depends on my mood, and right now I'm into very fat lashes—Benefit They’re Real adds more length and I prefer that, but you can use it in ways so that it looks quite natural. For bronzer and highlight, Tromborg Baked Minerals Silk—and the Rudolph Açai Facial Mist is good for setting everything. The makeup style here is very natural, sometimes with a crazy colored lip or something. You probably see that a lot of the girls are very androgynous, very boy. You see a lot of girls wearing sneakers, and if they go out, they wear red lips.

My favorite fragrance brand is Mad Et Len—it’s French from the South of France. I think it's founded by a couple, and the store next to my shop sells them. They have these very earthy dark scents but not too strong, very discreet. They’re all eau de toilette so they aren’t that intense. I like to mix the scents—I love Paname, but my favorite one is called Patchouli Rose. That's the one where people stop me on the street to ask me what it is."

—as told to ITG

Yvonne Koné photographed by Tom Newton at her home in Copenhagen on August 12, 2016.