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The Fashion Issue 2010

Today’s Viking

And now, just for the sake of historical accuracy in light of the preceding photo story, which is accurate in lots of ways but not so accurate in some key ways, we present an interview with a real, a seriously really real, Viking

Björn M. Buttler Jakobsen, the Viking king.

Fun fact: Björn means “bear” in Swedish.

the preceding photo story

Vice: Hello, Björn M. Buttler Jakobsen, king of Foteviken’s Viking village.

Björn Jakobsen:

And you live just like they did during the Viking era?

Would you mind if I ask you a couple of Viking-fashion-related questions?

How accurate is the image we have of Vikings compared with what they actually looked like?


Then why do we have this idea that they wore metal helmets with horns?

Twilight of the Gods

So the most famous imagery we have today of Vikings is actually just the fantasy of some Romantic 19th-century costume designer?

OK, please tell me how your regular old Eddie Lunchpail sort of Viking dressed.

Good plan. What did Viking shoes look like?

How do you know?

Ouch. What did their underwear look like?

Like those harem pants that are so popular today?

So they looked all mismatched?

How did women dress?

Did the Vikings initiate that fashion?

How did this fertility obsession manifest itself? I read somewhere that Viking women carried penis amulets.


What did they do on Blot night?

They drank human blood?

King Jakobsen inaugurating the yearly reenactment of the Battle of Foteviken, in which they honor the fallen soldiers of the famous Viking battle that took place near their village’s shore on June 4, 1134.

Photo courtesy of the Museum of Foteviken

You know what? Let’s completely change the subject to something cute and fluffy, like, say, lambs, aka yarn! Could Vikings knit?


Did they have tailors or even designers?

Didn’t women weaving also have some kind of mythical meaning? I’ve read that since the Valkyries and Norns of Norse belief decided men’s destinies in battle by either weaving or cutting their life thread, the women would weave while their men were away killing and plundering.

How should one dress in order to look like a powerful Viking man, like yourself?



How about red dye?

Yikes. Pee and lice, that’s some fancy fabric. From where did the specific decorative Viking style originate?


So their fashion was influenced by foreign cultures, seeing how they ravaged and pillaged—I mean traded—everywhere?

How about hygiene? They’re often depicted as giant dirty savages.

Did they heat them too?

Right. Was there ever a Viking who was famous for his appearance?

Any final words on Viking clothing?

Thanks, Viking King! See you in Valhalla!