Mr Baixiang Chen
Five days in the footsteps (and wardrobe) of the Copenhagen-based illustrator and photographer.
It’s not entirely surprising Mr Baixiang Chen is a fan of “people who are extremely good at more than one thing”. Because he’s one of them. Though he predominantly works as a branding and visual communications consultant, the Copenhagen-based creative also undertakes the occasional photography commission (“when I feel the project is interesting”) and moonlights as an illustrator, designing tattoos for friends “in exchange for favours”.
Where he finds the additional time to curate his impeccable wardrobe (which he admits is “very much biased to Japanese and Belgian design”), maintain the pristine décor of his central Copenhagen home and manage one of MR PORTER’s favourite feeds, @baixchen (25,500 followers and counting), is unclear. But somehow he does it, and with a remarkable rigour – his distinct, washed-out aesthetic is visible in everything to which he lends his eye. “Growing up, my idols were not pop stars or athletes, they were fine art photographers who worked with large-format cameras, such as Per Bak Jensen and Hiroshi Sugimoto,” he says. “Their pictures were very crisp and my photographic style naturally came from that.”
As is evident from the subjects that capture Mr Chen’s attention on his Instagram feed, he’s very much “an outdoors person”. His neighbourhood in Copenhagen, close to the city’s central park, King’s Garden, therefore suits him a great deal. “Being surrounded by parks, ponds and green spaces is very important to me,” he says. “Also, the city centre has a lot of history – the buildings are so aesthetically pleasing when walking around.” To prove this point, he took MR PORTER on a tour of his weekly haunts and the style choices he opts for in them.
In defiance of the generally accepted view that the first day of the week is its low point, Mr Chen often uses Monday as a day of rest. “I like to go out and do things on Sundays… when I finally get to spend time at home in Copenhagen, it’s definitely Mondays.” Keeping things casual here, he wears a striped cotton-cashmere top from A.P.C. with relaxed wool trousers and chunky ribbed socks from Japanese outfitter Beams Plus.
The University of Copenhagen Botanical Gardens have long been a source of inspiration for Mr Chen. “When I was learning to draw I would always draw flowers and trees, so I would come here to check how they looked in real life,” he says. Now taking a few snaps, Mr Chen keeps it simple in an all-black outfit worn with a cashmere-blend overcoat from Acne Studios. Headphones from Bang & Olufsen [Mr Chen also modelled in the Danish company’s recent H2 headphones campaign) and a playlist featuring Messrs Curtis Mayfield, Jacques Renault and Nas’ classic 1994 album, _Illmatic, _complete the picture.
For his walks around his home city, Mr Chen tends to wear light outerwear in technical fabrics. “This one, from Undercover, is a perfect example with a nylon body and a felt collar,” he says. “The Thom Browne boots are beautiful,” he adds, “the type of boots I wear with just about anything, from suits to jeans.” He’s pictured here just down the street from his home – a route he regularly takes on the way to the local bakery. “It’s a few blocks with townhouses that come in all colours,” he says. “You don’t often see this in Copenhagen any more.”
Atelier September on Copenhagen’s Gothersgade is one of Mr Chen’s most highly frequented meeting places. “It’s very beautifully done with wine shelving that covers the entire wall on one side and an open kitchen on the other,” he says. “I like the wabi-sabi [traditional Japanese] ceramics they serve their tea and coffee in.” While Mr Chen sips a cortado from one such piece, he wears a shaggy fleece bomber jacket from Sacai, one of Tokyo’s most coveted fashion exports.
Mr Chen is fond of the Ny Carlsberg Glyptoteket, a museum that houses many fine sculptures and paintings from the collection of Carlsberg heir Mr Carl Jacobsen. “I go there to visit my favourite impressionists,” he says, citing Degas’ ballerinas and still lifes by Cézanne as particular highlights. The key piece of his outfit is the duffle coat by Saint Laurent, something he describes as “a must-have in any wardrobe”.