Fredrik Ahlin - Creative Director

Sunday, February 2, 2014

3 Short films –

Marks & – Winter 2013

Directors: Fredrik Ahlin and Eric Frideen / Creative Direction: Fredrik Ahlin / Photography: Eric Frideen / Production: Spring Creative

M&S, Marks & Spencer, Party Wear

The Event – His View

M&S, Marks & Spencer, Party Wear

The Event – Her View

M&S, Marks & Spencer, Party Wear

The Secret

The return of the Thin White Duke…

After almost 10 years he finally makes his grand return. Our world has NOT been the same without you… – Welcome back DAVID BOWIE!

David Bowie has played a big part in my life, as I have written here before. It’s very possibly I wouldn’t have been where I am today or done what I have done, if I hadn’t crossed paths with him. So, it was with great pleasure I received the news this morning. A long and rather uncertain wait was finally over.

The first sign was a Tweet a few years back, supposedly from Bowie – in Berlin working on new material. We all suspected it was a joke, but secretly we hoped it was true… Many of us were wondering if he would ever release music again. Then last year there was of course the leaked album “Toy”. A mesmerizing mosaic of what once was. It was like a postcard from a very old and dear friend, saying that I am still here. I remember thinking at the time that it was a masterstroke, paving the way for a come back if he should choose. Still, a new album seamed almost too much to hope for…

But, this morning, out of the blue, Bowie returned with a quietly beautiful and promising new single called ”Where Are We Now” as well as announcing a new album, “The Next Day”, due to be released in March.

Why today? It is his 66th birthday and somehow we ended up being given a gift. A bit odd and not the usual flow and direction of birthday presents – but, I am happy!

Happy Birthday David Bowie – I am glad you are back. You have been dearly missed!

David Bowie and and a young me – Stockholm 1987.

6 years as Executive Creative Director at Hotel Chocolat

- HOW do you sum up 6 years of living and breathing a brand like HOTEL CHOCOLAT?

A little over three months ago I left Hotel Chocolat to join Travelzoo, the online travel and leisure publisher, as their global Creative Director. It was a very tough decision to make, but after six years I was ready for a new challenge and I left, as Angus Thirlwell very kindly put it, with a strong sense of well done.

How do I sum up the amazing journey that Hotel Chocolat has been for me? When I first stepped in through the doors of Mint House, the HQ of Hotel Chocolat, almost six years ago it was in some ways a very different and in some ways a very familiar place. The company had only three stores.It had just gone through a not entirely successful rebranding from Chocexpress, and more importantly, it was virtually unknown. I remember constantly having to explain what Hotel Chocolat was. It’s not a hotel, you can’t book rooms, the name is a metaphor and we sell chocolates…

“Today hardly anyone ever asks ”what is Hotel Chocolat?” there is actually a Hotel now, a working cocoa estate, several restaurants and over 70 stores…”

Today hardly anyone ever asks the question “what is Hotel Chocolat?” there is actually a Hotel now, a working cocoa estate, several restaurants and over 70 stores. The brand has grown far outside our borders and is recognized as Britain’s most advocated British brand.

Many things have changed as Hotel Chocolat has grown, but one thing has remained at the heart, and I hope and think it always will. The risk taking, innovative and daring mentality that originally attracted me to Hotel Chocolat. This mentality is in my mind, what made it all possible and that mentality stems from the people behind the brand. Thank you all for this journey, it has sometimes been bumpy, most of the time amazing, but what a ride it has been!  Thank you especially Angus for inviting me along. I wish you all the best of luck, and I will follow Hotel Chocolat’s future success from a distance, but with great interest and a sense of pride.

This film represents just a small portion of my work for Hotel Chocolat, during my period as Executive Creative Director for the British Cocoa Grower and Chocolatier between 2006 and 2012. But, these are some of my most adored memories and loved projects.

Hotel Chocolat:

Marketingweek 3 Jan 2012

Hotel Chocolat is voted “MOST ADVOCATED” British brand in the UK, in new Marketingweek report.

Haircare brand Kerastase is the “most advocated” brand in the UK, according to a report. Of the 10 “most advocated” brands in the UK, only Hotel Chocolat is British, in fourth place scoring 59%.

The authors of the report, Bain & Company, say that advocates – family, partners, friends and experts – are the “single-most important” influence on the brand a shopper buys in the alcohol, fashion, skincare and makeup categories.

The report adds that “winning” consumer products brands must keep shoppers and consumers at the “heart” of everything they do and make their brands distinctive and relevant to shopper needs and “occasions”, such as at point of sale where consumers may be tempted to buy rival brands.



Hotel Chocolat:

Hotel Chocolat’s Halloween Collection 2011:

Thoughts on inspiration, beauty and skulls
– and, a meeting of minds…

I have had the fortune to work with some of the world’s most chic magazines and brands. My aim is, and always has been, to create beauty. The inspirations for my designs and objects come from everything and almost anything. But, although the sources changes, some inspirations remain the same, as I have come to realise over the years – I am very precise about what I like, it just happens to be very eclectic.

Fredrik Ahlin, London 2011

A conversation, during Vogue’s Fashion Night Out last month, made me think even further about the importance of inspiration and what fuels Creative Directors, and through them their brands. I was out for cocktails with Agent Provocateur’s lovely Creative Director Sarah Shotton. Amongst a lot of gossip we touched on the subject of inspiration and what has shaped us, and we realised that we share a lot common references. We would both love to live at Studio 54 back in the 70’s, dressed by Saint Yves or Halston (preferably both…), listen to Bowie and of course Sisters of Mercy…  all this is of course is not so strange given that I like Agent Provocateur, but
still …

As I mentioned before, I always strive to make things beautiful, even if they on the surface are different, or even scary. For Hotel Chocolat’s Halloween Collection 2011, I wanted to do something special, something very, very chic. I wanted to create a chocolate skull decorated with edible 24 carat gold.

” – I WANTED to do something special, someting very, VERY CHIC. I wanted to create a chocolate skull decorated with edible 24 carat gold. I wanted it to be precious. And, more importantly, I wanted it to be glamorous and unlike anything else previously done with chocolate! “

The Limited Edition Headonism Chocolate Skullis a life-sized skull finished with precious, 24-carat edible gold and cast in extravagantly smooth 40% milk chocolate and award-winning 70% dark. Presented in a tailor-made midnight black box for the ultimate horror-chic showpiece! Headonism has been created as a Limited Edition of 150, and as such is only available in selected stores and online.

Hotel chocolat:

Hotel Chocolat’s Summer Collection 2011:

- much like a bag or the colour of your nails…

It’s been in the shops for quite a while now, but it still makes me very proud to see it on the shelves in Hotel Chocolat. For this years summer range I drove inspiration from Art Nouveau and Art Deco. I wanted a classical, yet colourful feel that evoked the glamour of past times, as well as complimenting the zeitgeist in fashion.

– I GUESS, in a way, that I always want to create the PERFECT ACCESSORY with my work for Hotel Chocolat. The boxes, or what ever they may be, should be an extension of the person bearing it – a statement – much like a handbag or the colour of your nails.

Hotel chocolat: /

New York, May 2011. Not the last week on Earth…

A SAVAGE BEAUTY, 4 Hotels, 5 Nights and the END of THE WORLD that didn’t happen…

At the end of May I went to New York. The main reason was to gather inspiration and of course to catch up with Mark (@MHVogue) and Kristoffer, two dear old friends of mine. It was, as always lovely, I had a fabulous time and the city of New York always gives me new angles and sends me of in new directions. Mark told me for example about how people in the US currently are very fond of the expression “super, super nice!” and I guess it pretty much sums up the trip…

Inspiration is something that is much needed, especially if you, like me, are busy working on the trends and the creative direction of 2012. More specifically Christmas 2012… I stayed at four Hotels during this five days trip. It was by choice, not out of necessity. There is something special about hotels, the nicer one’s at least, and I find a lot of the inspiration for my work at Hotel Chocolat through just experiencing different hotels.

I love the opportunities that staying at a hotel brings, the opportunity to meet people and for people spotting. All the effort that goes in to the experience fascinates me. I started of at On Rivington, not that great in all honesty. The rooms are nice, but that is really it, and the restaurant was closed. It just felt a bit worn down. The second night I stayed at ACE hotel, wish was absolutely lovely. Amazing service and amazing food by lovely people (As it should be, they do have a star in Guide Michelin…) Outside ACE I spotted a tall, skinny and very pretty blond woman in very, very high heels, looking at me and giving me a very sweet smile. It wasn’t until afterwards that I realised who she was – Gwyneth Paltrow – it’s a small world…

The third night I spent at W hotels Times Sq. It was quite interesting, but maybe not my cup of tea. So, I was very happy to move to Soho House for the last two nights. Soho House is as always amazing and it feels like coming home in many ways…

Savage Beauty at The Metropolitan New York

The main event during my stay in NY was the Alexander McQueen Exhibition, Savage Beauty at the Metropolitan Museum. It is an amazing testimony to the creative genius of Lee McQueen and the heritage that he left behind after his death. The exhibition is a must see if you are in NY. Lee once tried to explain and, I guess, defend his aesthetics with the following words:

“– People find my things sometimes aggressive. But I don’t see it as aggressive. I see it as romantic, dealing with a dark side of personality.”

Oh, yes… I almost forgot. The big news on CNN and in the US during that week was that the world was about to end. As we all know it didn’t, and it transpired that the cults prophet had done a slight miscalculation – the end of the world is apparently to be expected in 2012. I will however continue to work on Christmas 2012 in the meantime…

Soho House New York

Metropolitan Museum:
Ace Hotel:
Soho House New York: