It is around ten o’clock on a balmy Norwegian night and Viktoria Winge is wearing a worn-in pair of jeans and a flowery chiffon top peeking out from a cardigan, surprisingly chunky for this warm evening. Her fringe is short and looks as if she cut it with the kitchen scissors. Winge doesn’t smile as much as she grins like a wolf cub, and laughs her signature laugh. Over the past 15 years, we have worked together several times while I have watched her rise to fame on screen. Now we both live in Nesodden, a quaint peninsula across from Oslo. A popular destination with creatives, organic farmers and spiritual seekers alike, Winge grew up here, sandwiched between the ocean and the woods. No matter how far she goes, she always seems to return to the red cottage across from her parents’ villa. We browse through her wardrobe, full of sequins, vintage uniform jackets, silk slips and kimonos – laying them all out on her Winnie the Pooh duvet cover in anticipation of the shoot I am styling with her. The furniture and terrace is strewn with stuffed animals that just starred in a music video for her band, Moviestar. Her house is decorated with memorabilia, iron candlesticks, a wooden signpost that reads “Ducks only!!” and a framed picture of James Dean. She cracks open a beer and brews me a cup of ginger tea.
I first met Winge in 2001, when I had just started working as fas-hion director of a Norwegian youth magazine and booked her as the model of one of my first fashion stories. On the day of the shoot, she effortlessly slipped into a pair of sequin hot pants and a pink lace bra, revealing her fuzzy legs and armpits. But her body hair is not a statement, rather a natural part of who she is. “I just think it’s beautiful and more comfortable. After all, we have body hair for a reason,” she simply states. She slips into ‘model mode’ at the blink of an eye, a true professional. While this is all about her, Winge was never the ‘blank canvas’ kind of model anyway. Somehow it seems that, even as a model, she was always herself.
She has been working in the studio with her bandmates all week, recording their first record, and seems tired. “I can take a lot of socialising, but it drains me. I have to withdraw to charge. I think part of it is about coming from a theatre family: You are taught to behave a certain way. Taught that success equals being extrovert”, she confides. “I have this theory that time actually runs faster as you age. Most people say it’s due to our perspective of time, that we feel that time is running faster, but I’m wondering if it actually does! Obviously I’m not a scientist, but I think I might have been in a former life. I have so many theories I never get to try out.”
Winge was born in Oslo, but her family moved to Nesodden when she was three. The grand house with peach marble flooring throughout, walls covered with her grandfather’s artworks and a long, weathered wooden table facing the ocean is the perfect setting for the bohemian parties Winge and her siblings attended. As a five-year-old, she decided to become an artist like her grandfather, Sigurd Winge, who died just before she was born. Some of his artworks still adorn the walls of the National Gallery in Oslo. “When my grandfather passed away, my dad inherited all of his art. So, in a way, I grew up in Sigurd Winge’s unofficial museum”, she says. When Winge was 10, she painted and studied freehand and life drawing. “My aspirations when I was younger were very pretentious. I never wanted to do anything else.”
“All the other kids lived in Blåbærstien,” she says, referencing the suburbs nearby. “I wished we could move, because I was so lonely down here. I had many friends, but most of them lived far away. And so I ended up walking a lot.”
Walking was one of her favourite things about modelling: “One of the things I enjoyed the most, which I think many models hate, was going to castings. I loved walking around town, finding inspiration in the streets and arriving at the different destinations. It was an adventure,” she reminisces. She was scouted in Paris, where she moved as a 16 year-old to study French. “One day, sitting by the Seine, I had an epiphany: I was way too social to become a painter”, she laughs.