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Introducing...Ebba von Sydow

Published: 19 Feb 2007 17:40 GMT+01:00
Updated: 19 Feb 2007 17:40 GMT+01:00

She's an It Girl, a class warrior, and Sweden's style queen. In this week's Introducing... Paul O'Mahony takes a look at Sweden's fount of fabulousness, Ebba von Sydow

Who is she and why is she famous?

Ebba von Sydow is the 26 year old editor-in-chief of Vecko-Revyn, a fortnightly fashion and lifestyle magazine for young women. And the media magnate from Gothenburg already has tons of experience under her Miu Miu belt.

How has she managed to come so far so quickly?

Because she is a dervish, a whirlwind, an unstoppable girl-wind. And she's a von Sydow.

Who are they?

The von Sydow family has roots in Sweden stretching back to the beginning of the eighteenth century. One branch gave us actor Max von Sydow, for example, who has played roles as diverse as Jesus Christ and Satan. The family has also generated plenty of eminent politicians, including Ebba's great grandfather, former prime minister Oscar von Sydow.

Good genes then?

Yes, she really loves her fashion and is a particular expert on jeans.

No, I meant... Oh, never mind.

But before fashion came music. At school she played the guitar, wrote a fanzine, interviewed local guitar bands, deejayed on college radio when she was just 16 and was generally her dynamic self.

So what made her switch allegiances from plectrums to necklines?

A one-year spell at journalism school in Boston introduced her to the bejewelled world of bling-bling. While working a few hours a week at a radio station in the city, she bore witness to the growth of a new pop culture. In the worlds of R. Kelly, J Lo and P. Diddy, music and fashion began to merge like never before. Quality streetwear became the new chic. Suddenly glamour had become affordable

Who was buying?

There was a whole new generation of It girls, listening to R'n'B and hip hop, partying all the time and always in desperate need of new Jimmy Choos. Sassy new magazines began popping up to advise girls on the dos and don'ts of the new fashion. With tongue-in-cheek precision, they catalogued the devastating effects of a misplaced seam on an otherwise satisfactory night out. Ebba von Sydow, former wearer of second-hand cardigans, quickly underwent a baptism of bling.

Sounds like she blinged 'til she blung.

Oh yes. The experience was a revelation for the disc-spinning girl they called the 'Sweet Swede'. She returned to the mother ship positively brimming with new impressions. And pretty soon she got her big break.

How so?

Expressen, one of the main tabloids, spotted her freelance work for a music magazine and invited her to an interview. She was given a part-time job at the same time as she was studying law and choosing set lists for national radio.

Gracious. Doesn't the woman sleep?

Absolutely not. Anyway, after a while a fresh opening appeared at Expressen. They were looking for somebody to revive the flagging fortunes of their Friday entertainment supplement. Though still a bottom feeder on the journalistic food chain, von Sydow knew she was right for the job and hustled for a three month trial.

And how did it go?

It couldn't have gone better. In no time at all she became Sweden's single most influential style icon. By the time she left to take on a new challenge, the newspaper's Friday sales had tripled and Ebba von Sydow was the woman a nation turned to when it needed a new pair of jeans or a party frock.

Jeepers. What's her secret?

A combination of knowing her readers and extremely hard work. She has impressed her peers by always being first in and last out of the office. But despite her labours, von Sydow's noble heritage has exposed her to charges of unearned privilege.

That can't be much fun.

No. But she invited trouble on one occasion. Feeling that traditional class divisions had lost their relevance, she told a radio interviewer that she should perhaps be considered working class since she devoted at least 60 hours a week to her job.

How amusing. I can just imagine her slogan: Working class - because I'm worth it.

Yes, or Gucci by gaslight. Anyway, she hit a trapped nerve in certain quarters and Marita Ulvskog, the Social Democrats' party secretary, decided to wage class warfare on the latte-loving glamour queen. She said that anybody who had a shipping agent for a father and a doctor for a mother could never call themselves working class.

Didn't Ulvskog have anything better to worry about, being a top politician and all?

Evidently not. Anyway, Ebba survived her brush with the political class and was soon back power-walking, handbag-shopping and extolling the stylish virtues of Chloë Sevigny and Scarlett Johansson.

Good to see order restored. Being such a guru, has she ever taken the time to write a book that weaves together the disparate threads of her journalistic output in an easily digestible style guide?

Funny you should ask. Just last year she released a book in which she did just that.

And how was it received?

Adored by the initiated, reviled by the sceptical. One female author described her book as an advertisement for neo-Victorianism.

Why, was she calling for the wearing of corsets and burkinis?

Not at all. Von Sydow detests vulgarity in all its forms, which is why she recommends that her readers avoid drinking to excess, wearing bright red lipstick or skirts that run parallel to the base of the posterior.

Isn't she moralising a bit?

Well, her response was that micro skirts and see-through tops were as unattractive in the early 19th century as they are in the 21st. And smart girls know that copious pints of Guinness just don't mix with pink high-heeled Lulu Guinness shoes.

So Guinness isn't good for you but Lulu Guinness shoes are?

Precisely.

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