We have written about the brand by Of and With Studios named Ætt before, when they were responsible for a collection of beautiful leather bags crafted from the last batch of leathers ever tanned on the Norwegian Osterøy Island. Last month they launched another highly fascinating project – as always routinely looking at history for inspiration. And few historical stories are more heroic and impressive than that of a group of young Norwegian men during the critical stages of World War II. In February 1943 a small group of Norwegian commandos were responsible for halting production of Hitler’s attempt to create an atomic bomb. Without any casualties, the team managed to destroy the entire inventory of heavy water produced during the German occupation. The operation, titled Operation Gunnerside was later evaluated by Special Operations Executive as the most successful act of sabotage in all of World War II. Inspired by this heroic operation and to honor the 70-year anniversary of the liberation of Norway, Ætt created the Operation Heim collection – a very limited series of the British WWII era windproof smocks, the jacket which was issued to the dedicated brave men of the resistance; commandos and SOE agents who fought alongside local resistance.
On the night of February 16th 1943, six Norwegian commandos were dropped by parachute at the Hardanger plateau. Their goal; to sabotage the heavy water plant at Vemork, Rjukan, and halt the production of a crucial component to Hitler’s planned nuclear bomb; the heavy water. Together with another group of commandos hiding in a mountain hideaway, they made the final preparations for their assault, which then took place on the night of 27/28 February 1943.
The collection of smocks is limited to 8 different colorways and fabrics are carefully selected for their history, quality and weatherproof nature; Ventile, a fabric with a history that stretches back to the late 1930s and the beginnings of WWII, as British researchers worked hard to develop a protective fabric that could become the perfect mix of comfortability and warmth – or more specifically, to reduce the casualties of pilots dropping into cold waters, most who would die from exposure. Ventile would become the solution, lowering the death rate by 80%. The collection also utilizes another fabric commonly used by the military for protective gear and shelter in the first half of the 20th century. The fabric is 100% cotton, densely woven to become windproof and water-repellent.
In conjunction with the release of the collection, an inspirational exhibition was created, which takes place on the main street of Oslo, Karl Johan, inside the newly refurbished Paleet department store. Featured is Ætt’s beautiful collection of smocks together with a series of pencil-drawn artworks, a framed silk screen print, a white parachute and commissioned concrete and steel sculptures by artist Mads John Thomseth.
The exhibition is open until the middle of March at Paleet on Karl Johansgate 31, Oslo. See here for more information.
For more information and to order Ætt’s Operation Heim collection online see here.