LEJONHJÄRTA SISTERS – THE FUTURE IS NOW
Elizabeth and Victoria Lejonhjärta are leading the way to a more sustainable, more beautiful and more bad ass future, one Instagram post at a time.
The fashion revolution might not be televised, but it’s definitely live on Instagram. While traditional fashion media (and brands) has failed to represent the diversity of the female population, Instagram has become a platform for sharing inspiration that challenges fashion’s cultural norms.
”Instagram is changing fashion standards – it’s changing the imagery”, says Elizabeth Lejonhjärta. Together with her twin sister Victoria, their account @lejonhjerta has almost 50, 000 followers, people who are inspired by the sisters’ dreamy, futuristic images, sharp cheek bones and amazing locks (which they’ve grown since the age of three.)
And, inevitably, the fashion world discovered the twins from northern Sweden. They’re American Vogue darlings, they’ve starred in a campaign for hip shoe brand Eytys, and most recently they were featured in H&M’s campaign video for World Recycle Week, where M.I.A. is spreading the message about clothes recycling.
But a supporting role isn’t enough for the Lejonhjärta sisters, we decided. That’s why we let Danish photographer Philip Messmann portray Elizabeth and Victoria, styled in H&M clothes made from more sustainable materials like organic cotton, tencel and recycled denim. Back to nature – a theme that’s relatable to the Lejonhjärtas, to say the least.
ELIZABETH: ”When we were 18-19 years old, we decided to leave Stockholm and move back up north, out to the woods. We felt a need to go back to basics. We grew our own vegetables, went fishing, quit using makeup… It was sort of a cleanse. We only wore Grandpa’s old clothes. And we quit the internet. All our friends were really upset.”
VICTORIA: ”Yes, because we didn’t have any mobile phone coverage, and no smartphones. No one could reach us! We had to start over, be ourselves again.”
E: ”Even though we’re no longer living like that – today we’re obviously on Instagram, we have new clothes, we do these shoots – it’s nice to revisit that place, mentally.”
DOES IT SHOW SOMEHOW, IN THE WAY YOU DRESS?
E: ”I don’t know, our style is quite simple. Sometimes I feel fashion is more about survival…”
V: ”It’s true – we’ve always been drawn to some sort of apocalyptic style. We love sci-fi references. I think it goes hand in hand with nature.”
E: ”Sometimes when we’re far north, it’s like we’re in a sci-fi film. You have to be a little bit of a bad ass. People think it’s romantic, nature, but it’s kind of tough.”
YOUR MOTHER IS SAMI-SWEDISH, HAILING FROM SÁPMI, AND YOUR FATHER IS WEST AFRICAN – DO YOU FACE DOUBLE EXOTICISM?
E: ”Definitely. People seem to think it’s two extremes coming together. I understand [Afro-Sami heritage] is different, but for it to be impossible, to think it’s something… uncivilized? We have written a lot about our heritage, it feels good to talk about it on our own terms.”
V: ”As a minority you always have to deal with stereotypes, it’s like there’s some sort of predetermined identity you have to wear. That’s why it’s so important to be able to redefine yourself.”
E: ”Exactly, it’s about subject versus object. Like our Instagram for example, where we take pictures of ourselves – it’s so important for us to choose how we portray ourselves.”
SO HOW DO YOU WANT TO PORTRAY YOURSELVES?
V: ”Like a couple of bad asses!”
E: ”Some people don’t get the superhero references in our posts. People are like ‘you never smile in pictures’, but we’re like – ‘well, have you seen Batman smile?!”
TELL ME ABOUT YOUR NAME, LEJONHJÄRTA. IT MEANS ”LIONHEART” IN ENGLISH.
V: ”The entire family took that name, it’s like a symbol. We had been going through a rough time and needed something strong.”
E: ”It feels good, it’s about our identity.”
V: ”I really don’t know what to say about that, it’s all been said… It’s an honour to have your name on someone’s body. Especially his – he is such a cool, genius, kind and awesome person.”
E: ”Yes, it’s just a super nice thing. Some magazines wrote that we got him drunk, because we made a joke about it on Instagram. But we’re being sarcastic on Instagram all the time! He is a smart human being, he wouldn’t stumble into a tattoo shop drunk.”
WHO ARE YOUR STYLE ICONS?
E. ”Our mother. Her style was something else – everyone in our town Luleå knew who she was. They still do! Dad too. We grew up around people who don’t care too much about what other people think.”
V: ”We were encouraged to always think about what we want, not wanting things just because someone else has them. We went to thrift stores, made our own clothes… People thought we were really weird. But we always had each other to confirm that we actually looked cool.”
E: ”Our childhood was pretty out there, when I think about it now.”
V: ”Yeah, when you’re a kid you think everything is normal.”
E: ”But now I am like ‘woah, people were really mean to us’. Some stuff was pretty extreme. I’ve told our mother certain things now, as an adult, and she’s like ‘why didn’t you tell me?’ But it was normal to us back then.”
V: ”Racism was normal.”
E: ”Yes, there was no debate, no discussion about racism.”
DO YOU THINK IT HAS CHANGED?
E: ”I really hope so. The discussion is still behind, but at the same time there is a new awareness. Kids in our home town are super cool, nowadays.”
V: “Yeah, I see some kids in high school and they are really cool. It makes me happy.”
TOP 3 INSTAGRAM
”Her feed is like an art show.”
”He draws all our favourite superheroes, like Sailor Moon, but as black women. He’s releasing a comic book – I wish we’d had a comic book like that when we were kids!”
”She has an amazing eye for detail. She is magical.”
TOP 4 HAIR PRODUCTS
1. Shea butter
2. Coconut oil
3. Jojoba oil
4. Avocado oil
TOP 3 CONSCIOUS TIPS
1. Go vegetarian
2. Redesign your old clothes
3. Walk more
TOP 3 FASHION INSPO
1. Our mother
“She never throws anything away, she re-uses clothes or buys them second hand.”
2. The Matrix
”The Matrix is our fashion bible, seriously. Leather jackets and sporty sunglasses – YES”
3. Kanye West
”When we were 16-17 years old, we kind of needed that Kanye attitude to survive.”
ELIZABETH AND VICTORIA LEJONHJÄRTA
LOCATION: Luleå, Sweden
SPEND THEIR TIME: Always writing, sometimes modelling
Philip Messmann photographed Elizabeth and Victoria Lejonhjärta in Stockholm. Emelie Johansson styled them in H&M pieces made from more sustainable materials. Ignacio Alonso (represented by Linkdetails) did their makeup, and Philip Fohlin (also Linkdetails) did their hair.