The Building Blocks of Swedish Style, According to Josephine Bornebusch
Josephine Bornebusch may fit the stereotypical Swedish mold—tall, blond, blue-eyed—but make no mistake; the Stockholm native is more than just a pretty face. The actress and comedian not only stars in NBC’s hit series Welcome to Sweden, which returned for its second season last night, but she is also a writer and producer for the show. Not to mention next month she’s adding director to her ever-expanding résumé! And while a multi-hyphenate in the entertainment industry, Bornebusch is proving she’s a pro in the fashion realm, too (lucky for us, she’s sharing the secret to effortless Swedish style). In our exclusive interview, we chat with Bornebusch about the brands she loves to shop, her obsession with summer sandals, and more.
Why do you think Welcome to Sweden works so well with American audiences?
Good question… I think maybe there is sort of a universal recognition factor in it. It’s not uncommon that we meet and fall in love with people from other places and cultures these days, and those clashes in how we see and live our lives holds something fundamentally recognizable about them.
Also, maybe because it's exotic with Swedes and their behavior. What seems really weird and fun for you guys is just reality for us. For you, this is a comedy series. For us, it's a documentary.
The show has had some great celebrity cameos, like Will Ferrell and Gene Simmons. Who else would you like to see make an appearance?
That hologram Tupac thing they ran at Coachella the other year would be pretty awesome. Supposing he’s not snooping around somewhere and would like to make his public comeback in our show, that would just be out-of-this-world awesome! Greg once said he wanted Obama for next season. Who knows—if Obama or Tupac can't make it, I will settle with George Clooney or Brad Pitt.
What are some common misconceptions of Swedish culture?
That we are all just super-sexually liberated and have zero problems. And love cheese and watches. The first one is just a misconception since we are so far away in the north and no one has actually been in Sweden to see for themselves. And the other is a classic mix-up, cheese and watches is Switzerland. We’re IKEA and Vikings.
You basically do it all on this show, as a writer, producer, actress, and comedian! Which part do you find is the most challenging?
It’s all challenging in different ways. Working with comedy is always hard, because the genre is so straightforward. If you watch a horror movie, you want that movie to be scary. If you watch a comedy, you want it to be funny. If people don’t think you’re funny, then in a way you’ve failed. That’s what it feels like sometimes. But I guess at the same time taste is personal, and you can’t please everyone. I’m really just trying to do my best, and I try to be true to what I think is funny myself.
Is there any part of the industry you’d like to explore next?
Directing. I’m directing my first project in Sweden next month. Fingers crossed it goes well, because I would love to explore that further.
Who are some of the people who have inspired you throughout your career?
There are many. In recent times, Lena Dunham, Sarah Silverman, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Kristen Wiig. I love women that conquer the industry on their own terms; that genuinely inspires me and gives me inspiration and confidence to keep pushing forward.
How would you describe your style?
Are you loyal to any Swedish brands?
I really like Filippa K. They really nail the Scandi-style fashion essentials. I also love Hunkydory, so qualitative and cool. Frame Denim is perhaps not Swedish per traditional standards, but at least parts of the founders are, and their jeans are just so great. And H&M, of course. I can always rely on finding something amazing whenever I visit one of their gazillion stores.
We talk a lot about the secrets to dressing like French women, but Swedes have an incredible fashion sense too! What would you say are the secrets to effortless Swedish style?
I guess “don’t overdo it” would be the proper answer. Quick tips: Go tonal, and preferably be very careful with color; in fact, stick with white, gray, black, and navy to be on the safe side. And keep it minimalistic at all times. That should be it.
What item in your wardrobe is currently on heavy rotation?
My new Marni cow-skin sandals, or flat sandals in general actually. I somehow managed to completely overdo it this summer and bought so many pairs. I’m having trouble finding time to wear them all.
If we could take a peek inside your handbag, what would we find?
What’s not in there? It’s like a black hole for semi-crap. I have a Céline trio bag that I’ve managed to fill with so much stuff that I would have to pay overweight charges for it if I tried to check it in at the airport.
What’s your fashion guilty pleasure?
Hats! I love hats and keep buying them, but I never really find the confidence to actually leave the house with a hat on my head.
What’s the best fashion advice you’ve received, and who gave it to you?
Buy expensive accessories. If you do, you can dress as casual as you want and still look chic. My husband gave me that advice (he works in fashion!).
Your skin is amazing! What’s your secret?
Use a lot of makeup when you’re on TV—and no makeup when you’re not!
Are there any traditional Swedish beauty recipes or rituals you love?
I guess sauna combined with cold baths is what I should answer here because it doesn’t get more Swedish than that (although in all honesty, it’s a Finnish ritual, but no one will know the difference). A more truthful answer would be tons of sleep! Not sure how Swedish that is, but I do genuinely love and believe in it.
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