Bjorn Nasett –  the Fashionfarmboy

by Elizabeth Vogt / photo by John Ruebartsch

Did you look in the mirror before leaving  home today? Was the person reflected their content… or troubled? The packaging–yes, clothing, may play a role. How we dress ourselves has much to do with how and who we are.  This is the realm of Bjorn Nasett, who knows fashion as a source  of discovery, wellness and expression.

Bjorn, Fashion Farmboy, teaches, consults, and resells select vintage clothing. He also does hair, wardrobe, and makeup on film sets. Nasett writes, blogs, is the Goodwill fashion expert, and helped establish the Third Ward Goodwill Retique. He’s in demand for these his skills and as well as his refreshingly open views, which make fashion seem both fundamental and fun.  We can learn from him.

Bjorn grew up in Rockdale, Wisconsin, fourth generation of a Norwegian farming family. His father, steeped in rural quiet, grew tobacco and wheat. His German-heritage mother instilled a creative sense in him,  to “see possibility in everything.” Ever recycling and repurposing,  she demonstrated that there’s no need to buy everything. “I didn’t understand that we were poor,” Nasett says today.

Young  Bjorn loved the circus and its spangly, bright attire and began sneaking to the sewing machine to try to create such.  Fingers pierced, seams astray–his challenges were great and obvious his mother. Not angry, she taught him to sew. As young Bjorn designed, danced, and decorated his room, his parents accepted him. The Nasetts were practical, not liberal–believing in hard work.  After all, it’s not expedient to intervene in the lives or ways of others.   Bjorn exudes this brand of applied wisdom, perhaps the most important farm harvest of all.

His hard-working family members demonstrated  the adaptations and demands of rural life:  building, customizing, inventing.  “Who says that fulfillment isn’t in that simple farm life?” Bjorn asks. Yet for him, horizons beyond the Koshkonong Creek were calling.

First in Madison,  then Milwaukee, Nasett has rolled up his farm-boy sleeves and become a fashion oracle whose worldview sees humanity through its timeline of textiles and trappings.   Teaching the Mount Mary ‘Fashion Boot Camp’, Bjorn stresses the critical role of history: fashion is reactive to the world and all that is happening in it.  Corsets disappeared in the 1920’s, post suffragrette, with figure-draping  ‘liberated’ women’s clothing.  Depression-era ruffles and diaphanous materials stirred fantasies to help forget woes. WWII  Women worked while men fought overseas; a masculinization of fashion emerged.  Jump forward to the hip 1970s, when flowing, hand-made, androgynous styles rebelled again established gender and moral roles.
Designers dress the Zeitgeist, reacting to and bolstering the character of each era. “Designers don’t sell trends,”  Bjorn maintains, “People do.”  So, we make choices. “Fashion isn’t about a price tag; it’s how you feel about yourself,” Bjorn says knowingly. “Wear what makes you happy!”

In addition to his work, collections,  and palliative pet care (ancient, endearing dogs!), Bjorn will soon have a sewing room in his 19th-century Riverwest home.  He’ll be making his own things!  Watch for these in addition to his racks at Lela, Shoo Store (State Street in Madison), and that happy person in the mirror! The way you dress is, after all,  packaging for who you are.

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