She built her own successful label, is editor of her own magazine and the proud mother of two. Rika is more than a brand. It’s more of a lifestyle that presents endless possibilities. This is Ulrika Lundgren’s never-ending story. (Read the interview below)
Photography Liselore Chevalier Words Pam van der Veen Styling Valerie van der Werff
It started with a handmade leather bag with stars. Simple, rugged, elegant and commercially, right on target. The first collection of stylist and designer Ulrika Lundgren (47) was sold out in no time. Her star bag, a classic by now, was spotted in the arms of today’s top models. After the bags came a small collection of ready to wear and before she knew it, she had her own fashion and accessory label: Rika by Ulrika Lundgren. In her own words: “It’s all about a simple way of wearing clothes. Functional and easygoing.”
Simplicity and effortless are the words that describe her brand best. In everything she does you can recognize her impeccable eye. As she describes it herself, “The devil is in the detail.” Small embroidery designs and distinctive buttons make ‘just’ a shirt, a piece of Rika. Add to that list of words feminine, clean and classic. Everything is very Scandinavian, just like the Swedish Ulrika herself. The label fits her personality and sense of style like a glove. It echoes her signature outfit: vintage Levi’s, Rika T-shirt, leather jacket and sneakers or black boots. And of course there’s her jewelry. “I love wearing pearls in my ears and around my neck. I like how timeless they are. My jewelry by Delfina Delettrez and my Tom Wood ring also mean a lot to me.”
“I love wearing pearls, I like how timeless they are”
Fifteen years ago she moved from Sweden to the Netherlands together with her husband and eldest son Felix (19). Her youngest, Luca (12) was born in Amsterdam. Ulrika opened Rika Boutique in the city’s hip shopping district the ‘9 straatjes’ and went on to launch Rika Magazine in 2010, a bi-annual international fashion magazine that complements her own sense of style. The magazine’s launch was held in Colette in Paris and is an ode to iconic women. “It’s for exciting women, women that aren’t afraid of the new. These could be models, but also artists or musicians. Women like Julianne Moore, Liv Tyler, Dree Hemingway. And Caroline de Maigret, muse of Karl Lagerfeld and owner of a record label.”
Rika is not a brand, but a never-ending story. Next to her label and her magazine, Ulrika also has a small hotel: two tasteful rooms on the Herengracht. Maison Rika is a boutique hotel for the new traveller, the traveller looking for a home away from home. A private chauffeur picks you up and brings you to the luxurious rooms, all black floors, off-white walls, and golden-yellow fabric – totally Rika. The hotel’s staff are completely at your disposal as are the custom-made bikes to help you explore the city. In the rooms are beauty products by the brand Stella Maris and popcorn, chocolate and beer all made in Amsterdam. “I like all things personal and subtle, basic, ethnic, organic.”
“She takes her son FELIX to fashion events and he takes her to a DJ night.”
Ulrika travels a lot, to Japan where she has a big following, to London where the magazine team is, to Paris for fashion week or to Milan for an exhibition of The Iron Girls, a portrait series of celebrities in Rika T-Shirts. But she also likes being at home with her husband, two boys, and the French bulldog Bella.
Work and family life blend naturally. She takes her son Felix to fashion events and he takes her to a gallery or a DJ night. “Felix is really close to me and we share a passion for music. So is his brother Luca. We love going out to concerts together.” Home is the three large rooms in a former school designed by architect Jen Alkema.
The mix of vintage and modern, the Paul Lelieveld furniture, the paintings of San Ming; the house breathes a crisp Scandinavian air. She surrounds herself with rare objects and pursues the details. There’s always Swedish radio playing, talk shows and in-depth interviews mixed in with pop, rock and house. Evidence of their Swedish roots is also to be seen in the kitchen; cinnamon rolls are currently
Luca’s favorite things to bake with his mother. She likes cooking, prefers Ottolenghi,
but doesn’t follow the recipes. “I cook like I work – intuitively. No thinking, just doing!”
Right now, Ulrika is busy with the next edition of her magazine, which is being photographed in Los Angeles under the Californian sun. She also has plans for expanding Maison Rika into a second European city. Maybe on Mallorca, where she goes once a year with her family. At least, that would be a dream location. She works hard and that is ok. It’s her Swedish spirit to do so, and she enjoys every single day.
Photographs Liselore Chevalier
Styling Valerie van der Werff
Words Pam van der Veen