The voice on the phone is one of the most recognisable voices in the world. “It’s Greta, I’m downstairs.”
This is the voice that has admonished political leaders around the world, and chastised CEOs of global companies. This is the voice that has told the adult world they have failed the youth. This is the voice that has called for action on the climate crisis at talks at the UN, and a voice that has been sampled hundreds of times by musicians around the world.
Opening the door at my Stockholm apartment I see a group of five teenage girls do a double take as they pass Greta. They giggle, turn back and pull out their phones with squeals of delight. I hold the door open as Greta stands patiently, smiling, as one by one, they get their selfies with the girl who has become the voice of a generation.
Greta has cycled here. She turns up, with no chaperone, no family member or minder, just her backpack on her back.
Greta Thunberg, who turned 18 earlier this year, is as fresh faced as we had seen in the various documentaries and news items about her. Her long braided hair, which she occasionally fiddles with during the afternoon, rests over her shoulder. She wears a striped cotton shirt, creased and frayed, that looks like it has been through the wash a thousand times. Her baggy leopard-print leggings show their age. Greta points out the patchwork stitching – a very rough repair job that she did herself, she explains.
“The last time I bought something new was three years ago and it was second-hand. I just borrow things from people I know.”
As the early summer sunshine streams in through the window, Greta sits at my kitchen table with a nonchalant composure and confidence that belies her youth.
Greta and I are joined by Iris and Mattias Alexandrov Klum, who photographed her for the cover of this first issue of Vogue Scandinavia, via a Zoom call from their home in Spain.
The multimedia artists use sound, photography and film to explore the idea of living in harmony with nature.
“From the beginning, I had a passion for nature and gradually as we gained references, it changed me,” says Mattias, who spent the best part of four decades travelling the world, documenting our changing environment and the impact of man on fragile ecosystems. “I tried to visualise the beauty of nature but I saw the anthropogenic changes – the horrendous situation we have entered into – my work became more balanced and I started to become more inclined to show the juxtaposed worlds.”