Maria Nilsdotter photographed in Astrid Lindgren’s apartment. Photo: Angelina Bergenwall; hair and makeup, Alexander Landmark / Courtesy Maria Nilsdotter Pippi Longstocking is celebrating her 75th birthday this year, but you’d never know it: That ragtag, pigtailed, freckle-faced Swede literally never ages. Nor does the appeal of the strongest girl in […]
Pippi Longstocking is celebrating her 75th birthday this year, but you’d never know it: That ragtag, pigtailed, freckle-faced Swede literally never ages. Nor does the appeal of the strongest girl in the world fade. “Pippi Longstocking was my girl,” Michelle Obama told the New York Times recently of the character created by Astrid Lindgren in 1945. “I loved her strength—not just her physical power, but the idea that she wouldn’t allow her voice to be diminished by anyone.”
At the behest of the Lindgren estate, the Swedish jeweler Maria Nilsdotter is expanding on Pippi’s legacy with a 20-piece collection in eco-silver that playfully builds on Longstocking iconography and messages.
It’s difficult to imagine a better candidate for this assignment—for reasons quite apart from the fact that Nilsdotter looks like she could have walked out of a fairy-tale illustration by the famous Swedish painter John Bauer. Fantasy and fiction have always informed Nilsdotter’s work. These qualities are not just aesthetic; the designer can trace her fascination with imaginary worlds back to her childhood. “My mom is from the north of Sweden,” she says, where “there are these magical woods. I was always hoping fairy-tale creatures, like trolls or dragons, would exist in those forests. It always stuck with me how imagination is a way of going into an open space.” When asked what her own most Pippi-like trait is, Nilsdotter replies, “Making my own way.” She discovered jewelry making by accident during an art course and fell in love with the craft because it gave her a place to channel her imagination and create little worlds as she did when she was small.
Nilsdotter has imagined Pippi at 75 as a rebel girl with a bit of a punky style (hence the safety-pin earrings). The pieces are designed to easily work into what you already own and complement Nilsdotter’s existing body of work, which combines fairy-tale magic with a sort of “everyday armor” functionality. “I think that even in these times when everything is so depressing and dark, it’s empowering to put [jewelry] on that has that connection to feelings,” she says. “Maybe it doesn’t have energy in itself, but when you charge it with your own emotions, it becomes powerful.” Just like Pippi.
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