Kelly O

Watch a slideshow of the highlights of the show HERE.

Happening now at the Nordic Heritage Museum, the Nordic Fashion Biennale—Looking Back to Find Our Future—is a swirling wonderland of strange and brilliant things. Some exhibits are direct: garments, tidily arranged, resting in vast white rooms. Some are sneakier, incorporating the museum's permanent collections, such as the delightfully tacky Dream of America, which replicates an outdoor setting with boardwalk paths leading to a faux village of storefronts and homes and old-timey workshops. The intricate dioramas are loaded with antique tchotchkes and run-down mannequins doing stuff—their plaster souls embedded deep in their plaster bodies, unable to get out. Curator Hrafnhildur Arnardottir, aka Shoplifter, cleverly enmeshes the fashions into each scene—changing the meaning of both. (Her design, a collaboration with Edda Gudmundsdottir and Victoria Bartlett of VPL, is the leotard of matted hair showcased in the barbershop display.) Exploring these exhibitions imparts a distinct feeling—something invigorating and silly, and it slides around inside you. Joy, I guess you'd call it.

Hanging upstairs, like a group of flags, are the creations of Vik Prjonsdottir. This design collaborative carefully wriggles themes of Iceland's traditions into each of its works, but manages to keeps the tone fresh. The charmingly droopy Seal Pelt jumpsuit draws upon a traipsing legend—stocked with naked, crying ladies; naked, crying seals; lonely fisherman; and lonely wives flinging themselves into the sea.

The team's past projects include Twosome Blanket—a throw inset with dual hoods that references an old-world custom of sharing your bed with a complete stranger because it was considered polite. Black or White, another blanket, is patterned with alternating leaves and handprints—symbolizing the sacred mysteries of the universe and the glove of Michael Jackson, respectively.

All of it is pretty wild. Watch for: Eyeglow's delicate shapes, the fabrics printed with images of X-rays—bones blurred and hovering, in that same creepy blue as the light cast by television static that fills a dark room. Mundi Vondi's knitwear, with pixelated mosaic patterns inspired by retro video-game effects. Barbara í Gongini's splendidly bleak forms: knotted and jittery, with gross strands and crinkled skin like bats' wings. Knit dresses by Gudrun & Gudrun, with hems that swell into giant tumors. Rainwear by Raindear—gorgeous and ridiculous, embellished with plastic ruffles. And a selection of works by hot-shit Scandinavian designer Henrik Vibskov, who titled his past project Big Wet Shiny Boobies.

Attention, makers of fashion and workers of garmentry: Tell me what you're doing at marti@thestranger.com.