John Galliano Feature Photo

Day two of Paris fashion week and BDMOTP has an invite for the John Galliano showroom in the Marais. It’s not the type of invitation you simply ignore because this is the showroom of the man who needs no introduction, the bad-boy-boogie of fashion, he whose first name alone suffices to make a statement of swag, interest, and, aye, scandal – we can simply call him John (like Marc as in Jacobs, but not, for instance, like Calvin as in Klein). All know him and everybody knows about him – and even people outside the world of fashion have heard about Galliano as one of the foremost fashion designer icons of our day and age. But is perhaps our media-saturated celebrity culture catching up with us in that we like to fall in love with names and tags, rather than with a style, a trend, or a fashion? Let’s take a look in the showroom. Is there perhaps something very Galliano in here?

Galliano shatters and splatters

Galliano shatters and splatters

Paint – splattered loafers and black denim with a nice touch of orange rims. Nothing here really that would make us guess that this is a real Galliano – except the splatters and the shatters maybe. It has something distinctly Jackson Pollock however. Same passion, same style as Galliano? Maybe. Maybe it is the orange touch. Orange outré – meaning out of measure. Yes it is retro orange – like the faded color from a 1978 Volkswagen Beetle – très outré – very John, so very Galliano, Crayola Orange rims on the heels. Maybe. No clear signature however. Just a touch of a concept of a recognizable design in the make.

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Or how about this equally poisonous Pantone Orange ‘costume’? Here we do see a real agent-provocateur at work in the design but you have to look closely. Yuck, cigarette pipe pants which are too short. Now that really puts the capital U in the word ugly. Does anyone like to see my ugly socks maybe this summer? This has the feel of an early seventies retro beat party before the onset of wide-piped wing pants. One could imagine a pale and long-haired Brian Jones in it somewhere lost in the corner of a room of a flat, alone, stretched and laying long across a dirty couch, at an English rock band after party.  The forgotten man.  Ugly too that faux-zip-down-checkered col roulé.

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Blue, blue, electric blue 

Ah, so now we are talking. Here is a real Galliano. Very recognizable. Unforgettable. BDMOTP loves the rucksack and backpack made from the same material as this metallic club shirt in electric blue pictured above but then in rose gold (not pictured here but you surely get the drift). It’s worse than hideous. It’s monstrous. Scandalous. And deliciously pretentious. It’s the kind of item mom warned you about never to buy but for fear of provoking the neighbors into calling the police for unknown, unsubstantiated, and above all, anonymous reasons. A real monstrous Galliano. The invisible threads of the master provocateur worked deep into its pulsating veins. An instant hit for those who dare to wear it. It’s alive …

Well - known picture of the master agent - provocateur. Image credit: Reuters.

Well – known picture of the master agent – provocateur. Image credit: Reuters.

The master himself, of course, shines through absence from the small showroom as we visit and take a few pictures. And as fashion showrooms go during fashion week in Paris, this does not look like much, and it’s almost as if it was set up in a hurry or abandoned after an opening too soon, the designer having left quickly to go somewhere else more importantly, more darkly perhaps, and most probably more interestingly.

But we now know that in the veins of the collection on display lurks an unseen danger, a poisonous sting detrimental to those who are not immune, a daemon perhaps ready to explode.

Caveat Emptor.  Buyer beware.

Story by Sandro and photos by Mous except the last picture of Mr Galliano which is from Reuters.

Walter I

You think you’ve private lives
Think nothing of the kind
There is no true escape
I’m watching all the time

I’m made of metal
My circuits gleam
I am perpetual
I keep the country clean

I’m elected electric spy
I’m protected electric eye

(Judas Priest)

Belgian grand artists have a history of political activism (Magritte, Brel, and for a more recent example Stromae comes to mind) and thus the theme of Walter van Beirendonck’s latest mad grand collection is thus appropriately called the Electric Eye – a clear and unmistakable dig at the total global surveillance state of affairs through which we are currently living.

Portrait of the artist as rebel

Portrait of the artist as rebel

A dark and ominous ‘electric eye’ (with arms & hands sternly folded) under a black thundercloud is set in the sky on our runway show invitations in poster format and this leitmotiv is finding its way woven and plastered on all Walter’s latest grand creations SS16. For those of you who have been following Walter you probably know that some of his work will sometimes remind of a movie set out of a latest and unexplained version of the famous tea party found in Alice in Wonderland. So the electric eye finds itself plastered unto skin-colored latex (on bare skin of course) and woven into the fabrics into jackets next to the faces of cute rabbits and wild flowers. Colorful and naïve an ominous lurking omen of super-surveillance invades our style – as we adopt and adapt its power which is trying to control us. Of course David Bowie sings melancholy songs coming from on high out of the ceiling backstage. Ziggy plays guitar, but wherever we go we carry the Electric Eye on our chest, either as a mark of control, or in reverse, perhaps as a token of liberation from the same as we incorporate the dark clouds of the mindset of our times into our style and in our personal fashion.

Walter is a rebel with a cause and clearly he was thinking when creating this, his latest Mad Hatter Tea Party of a collection because right after the show dozens of interview teams are trying to get a few words out of him on the podium of the complete gem of a theatre which is the Théâtre Du Châtelet in Paris. Were they asking him questions on the politics of style or on the style of politics? How shocking! How scandalous! How craven!

The Théâtre du Châtelet after the runway show

The Théâtre du Châtelet after the runway show

But none of this was really necessary.  Because Walter’s creations are of such an extraordinary serenity and beauty that they transcend all post-modern paranoia. They are colorful, inspiring, and eerily reminiscent of a forgotten human past in which things were simpler, kinder, and not as fast.  The millenary part of the new collection was simply astounding, especially the early medieval scarecrow hats – something out of Bosch or Brueghel – which transported the grateful attendees by at least half a millennium into the distant past.  No need to contemplate ‘electric eyes’ at that point.  And if that was precisely the idea of the collection then it succeeded wonderfully well.

Stephen Jones deserves a special citation in this context because he made all the hats for this beautiful and latest and mad and grand Walter van Beirendonck collection.

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Posted by Sandro and photos by Mous.

 

NOT a flight jacket for Steve McQueen or Tom Cruise

NOT a flight jacket for Steve McQueen or Tom Cruise

The most striking thing about the Y / Project show here on opening day in Paris was how well the ambiance and location matched with the models and the collection, and when we then read that Glenn Martens (who is designer for the French brand Y / Project) hometown is Bruges in Belgium we put two and two together, because the old city of Bruges is without a contest probably one of the darkest and most medieval cities that Europe still has to offer today – a left over hewn in old stones from the dark ages. Something out of Nosferatu.

And that brings up vampires, yes, because the models all were so splinter thin – if not all so pale and / or ghastly looking – that they could only have been chosen with this very purpose in mind – that is to create some type of post-modern zombie shock, like many popular TV shows would have it for us today (the White Walkers from Game of Thrones for instance), so as to make an un-deadly serious statement of intent in style or in fashion. And if this were indeed the concept or the idea, then Y / Project succeeded rather well.

The notorious Parisian rive droit rave & underground club ‘Le Gibus’, the location par excellence for the Y / Project SS 16 show

The notorious Parisian rive droit rave & underground club ‘Le Gibus’, the location par excellence for the Y / Project SS 16 show

For the location of the event was the notorious Parisian rive droit underground & rave club ‘Le Gibus’, seated deep inside that dark part of town which makes you feel that if you had to live there, that the sun would never shine. And so it was. The red-light underground, the low ceilings, the industrial 19th century steampunk setting outside, the black and dark-clad guests and visitors to the show, the limited lighting – gothic and dark elements all, conspiring to show something quite unique and beautiful – a very nice collection Y / Project SS16 worn by eerily thin shuffling models on a runway where the sun don’t shine (in case you are asking – no, they did not crawl).

It thus attests to and proves that good fashion design, even in the darkest places, can still create things of such sartorial beauty, that no matter how ghastly the environment or the setting is, that we are still drawn to beautiful creations in the way moths are drawn to the lamp outside in the evening, or flowers to the light of day. And for this we have to thank Glenn Martens creating for Y / Project. Because he made a wearable and versatile collection of surprising beauty given the dark inspirations taken (the press release speaks of ‘gothic architecture’ and ‘medieval structure’).

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Posted by Sandro and photos by Mous.

After a January visit (when we saw the beautiful 80’s retro collection) we are back at the Carven showroom in the pittoresque Parisian district of St Germain – des – Prés, on the rue de l’Abbaye, this time on the opening day of Fashion Week SS16 Paris Homme and we are practically the first visitors to walk into the door in the morning in what promises to be a very busy day for everyone, which happens to be our luck for who else is there but Barnabé Hardy in person (see his picture flanked by two models in our slide show below), the designer for Carven pour Homme, who takes five minutes to chat to us about the new collections. La chance!

The very bright and stylish showroom of Carven on St Germain

The very bright and stylish showroom of Carven on St Germain

The Carven style is very recognizable for those who aim to know and can be described as both urban (the French ‘urbain’ has a much better sound to it) as well as elegant, which is no small feat at all which you realize when, as a traveling fashion writer for BDMOTP, you have witness only too frequently a lot of trash on the runways under the cloak of the cool-and-important-sounding catch word ‘urban’ (Diesel, G-Star Raw, Phillipp Plein etc. ad nauseam come to mind (even Lagerfeld sometimes is on this end of the spectrum all-be-it in a more luxurious fashion).

So let’s, from now on, distinguish the French URBAIN from the English URBAN in that the former style can actually be elegant, and the latter just as plain vulgar, like as in ripped jeans, colored sneakers, too tight T – shirts, and baseball caps put backwards or sideways – you know the drill. No folks, this stuff from Carven is both Urban and Elegant AT THE SAME TIME. So let’s qualify it as Urbain – Chic, if that linguistic twist would not offend too many Anglo sensibilities.

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Ambiance is everything

I mean look at those incredible shoes. Are they not the perfect example of urbain-chic?

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Barnabé explained about the urban concept behind the collections and we asked if there was a retro element in it, but instead we heard that urban patterns can be found both in the materials used (the relièfs) as well in distinguished patterns of blocks, stripes, spirals and other inter-laced motifs. The designer spoke of ‘light’ affecting his choice of colors and in addition to the choice of colors indeed the whole Carven showroom is very light and open, and of small detailed signatures in each item for the new collection (Hermès is good at this too), some of it so small and refined that it could not be captured by the lens of our photographer.

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As showrooms go, this is one marvel you should not miss

Unfortunately our brief but interesting interview with the designer had to come to an end as the showroom started to seriously crowd with people and our last question was to ask Barnabé about the style of the clever and stylish shirt he was wearing (colored twirls and curls on a white shirt in relièf). Was this a good example of urbain – chic perhaps?

And this is where we had to resort to English and not French. Because the answer was simply ‘swag’, that one ubiquitous word in English fashion language that everybody always wants to use but for lack of ideas nobody knows how or when or why. Well here it was then, the style of the interlaced colorful twirls and curls on the shirt of Barnabé Hardy as the household example of what is ‘swag’ defined.  And it also defines Carven.  For Carven, in addition to urbain – chic, has some real serious swag.

I mean look at those shoes.

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Post by Sandro and photos by Mous.

 

We’re giving you another sneak preview and this time it is Julius, the concept collection winter 15/16 of Tatsuko Horikawa from Japan, which we are pleasantly surprised to find at one of Paris’ fashion agencies during fashion open day – a spring event in Paris to come and see the latest collections and the latest designers, usually in the beginning of April. BDMOTP is allowed to bring our own model and our photographer for a quick-shoot.  And we are lucky to give you just a few pictures here which came out nicely, because this is a very special collection, one which clearly on the runway would look like dynamite, but when you are able to approach it in person it immediately grasps and seizes you because of its strong and gripping conceptual dark design.

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So what is behind this foreboding sartorial marvel?

Terracotta Warriors of the Kingdom of the New Rising Sun

Terracotta Warriors of the Kingdom of the New Rising Sun

The Julius collections exist since 2001 in Japan and since 2006 also outside Japan, and were first appropriately launched in a modern art gallery in Tokyo – as this is no club nor lounge wear – but concept and design wear. Trying it on at the fashion agency BDMOTP popped the question as to in which town or city or which location one would be able to find someone wearing Julius. How about during Pink Floyd retro perspective concert titled ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ somewhere in an industrial park in London’s West End?

It so turns out that Tatsuko in his creations is obsessed with shades of black. Scarab. Crow. Ink. Jet. Charcoal. Asphalt. Basalt. And all the other shades of black visible in the collection Tatsuko sees as representing the spiritual colors of the Zen tradition of spirituality while equating the darkness with the feelings of a deep and unknown grief. He calls his creations both metallic and industrial and they are meant to go paired with an ambient sound or noise which would awaken in us the pilgrim – a man who must yet still chose which road he is about to take. A curious and foreboding lifestyle concept of the avant-garde of our times.

Julius 3

 

Of course this being Paris, France, all this darkness translates seamlessly and perfectly into the French tradition of noire and existentialism. Legions of books have been written about it and it is nice to be able to see such dark ideas being entered and introduced in actual form and shape as a lifestyle concept and design on the runways and in the showrooms around the planet. Indeed the Julius collection would surely qualify under the omen and nomen of dark, brooding, and existentialist. Let’s say as a lifestyle concept of something out of an ominous gnostic nightmare – something like the Wachowski brothers Matrix Reloaded, where different shades of darkness and black are necessary to portray the insidiousness of life’s brooding and often meaningless destiny – night shades not optional.

“Mr Anderson, we need to talk …”

Matrix together

Everyone’s favorite avant-garde existentialist nightmare: the Matrix Reloaded

Everyone’s favorite avant-garde existentialist nightmare: the Matrix Reloaded

Photos by Mous (except of course the pic of Neo next to Olivier), modeling by Olivier & post by Sandro.

Yes, star commander, what are your orders?

Yes, star commander, what are your orders?

BDMOTP was lucky enough to do a private quick-shoot bringing both the model and the photographer to the agency for Little Shilpa AW 15/16 in Paris and we caught the best of her extraordinary headgear collection in 15 minutes time.

Shilpa Chavan is a well-known hat – and headwear designer whose credits include working with major brands and being featured in major magazines, as well as working for national beauty pageants. She mostly designs for women and women like Lady Gaga, Cheryl Crow, and Nicki Minaj, as well as other female celebrities have worn and donned her awesome creations with pride, but today BDMOTP is honored to be able to you the following Primeur – that now men too with pride can wear fantastic creations from the grand old art of millinery and that certainly not all headwear for men will forever be limited to just boring classic caps, gills & cokes, or trilbys and fedoras.

For this is Shilpa Chavan pour Homme!

'No quarter given, for now, but allow me to reflect’

‘No quarter given, for now, but allow me to reflect’

The motto for this Little Shilpa headgear collection is Feral Nation with the concept and the idea being that wearing extraordinary headgear allows one to tap into your inner feral and wild side and indeed when we tried on the different gem-like pieces so much is becoming clear: That there is nothing just like an incredible piece of headwear or headgear that can change a man into what his destiny would have wanted him to be in the first place – a star commander, a bird-man, or perhaps an emperor of a realm since long forgotten, or yet to be discovered.

Tap in-to, your inner cockatoo

Tap in-to, your inner cockatoo

Whereas the headgear and wear is the feature and signature of the collection, the apparel comes along with it and has the overtones of military camouflage, military green, hunting green, and gold so as to give a fierce, subdued but determined look when people and the public will inevitably give you that look & stare as when they intensely try to assess your intentions or your social status. But this is grand of course, for who am I, if not but a man, if I cannot be sauvage, and wild or feral in my vain ambitions. L’etat, c’est moi, and it is good to be the king after all, and in my Kingdom sauvage, there shall be no venality allowed.

Headgear sauvage for men

Headgear sauvage for men

Thus this grand collection fantastic by Shilpa Chavan for headgear sauvage will bring out the very best and very worst in both a brave as well as a reckless men who would be king or commander (or bird).

We have learned from ‘littleshilpa’ that there is a difference between hat-making and millinery in that not all headgear or headwear is limited to hat-making. And that headgear can change a man. Even in feral ways. But for men we like to call it sauvage.

Come to think of it, perhaps sunglasses are out-modeled and outdated these days. Who really needs sunglasses to hide yourself when you can have people publicly worship and fear your wildest dreams or ambitions? A feeling perhaps once exclusively known to women, now, thanks to Shilpa Chavan, also available to men.

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La retour de l’Empereur

Photos by Mous

Modeling by Olivier

Posted by Sandro

ModeaParis: Y/Project FW 2015 offered an interesting collection on the very first day of Paris fashion week, but only the BDMOTP photographer was able to make it, undersigned staff writer on a different assignment. We were nevertheless able to obtain the press release from the show and it appears that the menswear designer for the brand is currently (since 2013) Glenn Martens, from Belgium, who is also known for having worked with H & M, and notably with Jean-Paul Gaultier on G2 (menswear Gaultier 2).  Martens’ signature is the use of new tech materials which are graphically tailored and cut into forms and shapes of structural, almost architectural, elegance.

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When you look at the images below you will be able to clearly distinguish the look, feel, and style that makes the Y/Project collection Martens’ own. First look at the materials used and you will notice advanced and unconventional things like vinyl and synthetics woven into structures. This is the first thing to look at because it gives a feel for what the designer is trying to say about the age in which we live.  Secondly look carefully at the different types of cuts and you notice that many of the pants and trousers are baggy, the shirts and jackets traditional, and some of the coats rather retro, which reinforces the collection’s impression of rather post-modern and contemporary, especially in the light of blending the male and female form which we so often see today on the runways.  Except the coats and their retro cut, all of this could have been worn by women today. Then move on to the colors, and you notice that the entire collection stays on the winter-ish spectrum, with hues of blue, grey, and beige except for the one blatantly colored space odyssey red creation which is most certainly put in there to emphasize the modest colors of the rest.

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The crowd almost seems to blend in on the background, they look like a Seattle Washington Sunday afternoon Starbucks crowd sheltering from the cold outside, but taking style points from the latest and greatest collection. If there is one to be made it is perhaps that Martens succeeded into making the casual look very fashionable and interesting: It’s clearly that contrasting mix of synthetic materials cut into the more traditional shapes that makes for this outstanding look, and the colors and patterns are just a bit off accordingly. Wickedly there is one picture with a cobalt blue trench coat on vinyl black pants and black platform shoes while the model is sporting a red choker – he seems to match the denim blue of the bearded guy sitting on the right watching him who sports a blue denim baseball hat with a red cap. Your style Y/Project à la Martens has come full circle at your local Starbucks.

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Posted by Sandro Joo and photos by Franz Kennedy.

The Espace Pierre Cardin, the venue for the Songzio show, is just opposite the Elysée Palace – the French white house, and the US Embassy happens to be on the corner of the street. It’s Friday Day IV of Paris Fashion Week and BDMOTP is invited at the Songzio runway show where we are kindly mentioned in the press release as ‘prominent fashion bloggers’. But unbeknownst to us the president of the Fédération Française de la Couture is also watching the show – and that is a very important person during FW in Paris. Not a good moment then for a mishap to take place during the show when a divided runway in the form of a shape of the letter ‘U’ leads to much confusion on the part of the models because the light fixture above the runway is not placed directly overhead. The painful result is models wobbling and drifting across the second leg of the ‘U’ while they approach a second battery of photographers sitting and waiting at the end.  But the photographers cannot get the models straight in their lenses because the light fixture is on the side. OMG! Some of the photographers start calling out loud throughout the show for the models to ‘move over’ – they are professionals after all and earn their living this way. And surely Vogue is not paying for halfway shots. So it’s a bloody mess. Not something monsieur le président would have wanted to see no doubt. And not something he will forget.

But the Songzio’s 15/16 FW collection is refreshing wind of dark but winter-ish air. The show is themed an ‘autumn evening’ but because the creator’s main signature is working with many shades of black (yes, not all shades on the fourth spectrum are shades of grey) the mood comes across as winter rather than fall. No colors here except for on the leather textile prints which appear with leaves or branches, or even with lumps of earth. These do remind of autumn somehow because the colors are beige, raisin, and sierra brown, yet the models wearing these flashback printed leather textiles look like retro superhero assistants out of a forgotten and unknown early sixties TV show – before the age of color so that you just have to imagine the paint into it. Beige, sierra, raisin, and even poison green – in textile patterns of pebbles, checkers, leaves, and twigs. That’s a whole lot for one winter afternoon.

And if that were perhaps all, this story would be finished soon, but this is where Songzio actually takes off and reaches into the unknown because now why NOT both have and wear cigarette pants if you are taking the dangerous route of retro superhero assistants you’d probably ask?  And that is a good question. For cigarette pants – yes those ugly slender & tight double-pipe trousers still popular at the time of the first James Bond – were actually the most remarkable item BDMOTP noticed in the show.  Especially when they are plastered with ugly patterns and feature in an even a more meaningless color. Yuck – camel, orange raisin, and that metallic poison green on scarab in ugly checkers worn as what appears to be a skirt, jeez – it’s bloody brilliant, yes, and one single good look makes up bigtime for all the mishap at the show.

But we are not so sure that monsieur le président will see it that way. He may have a more traditional view of things. But we love it.  This is what we came for.

The remainder of the show was actually very stylish and traditional both in cut & tailoring and was all done exquisitely in those many shades of black – the Songzio signature. It featured wonderfully cut coats, jackets, and suits for men in metallic, jet, scarab, ink, oil, ebony, crow, raven, charcoal, and yes, even in obsidian. But that’s another story. For another day another show. For suffice to say that mishap or no mishap that what we came for was the privilege of witnessing those orange California Raisins leather textile printed cigarette pants. Featured at the Espace Pierre Cardin on a cold and gloomy Friday in the middle of Paris Fashion Week.

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Posted by Sandro Joo and photos by Franz Kennedy.

Often when reading a fashion press release before watching a show or presentation you get away with the feeling that the designer has no clue, or does not know precisely or exactly what is going to be presented in the first case – because there is a grand mélange of colors, materials, ideas, concepts, cuts, and designs that is being brought to the table and spelled out, and it is then up to the fashion critic to make sense of it all, to put it all together in your mind, and to give it direction once things have crystallized on the runway. And so fashion writers go looking for the latest signature, the latest trend, the latest sign, clues, cues, keys, or patterns – analyzing all until a general concept and idea in the clothing line or in the collection are found – and until the press release finally makes sense.

Surprise, surprise then that the Fabio Quaranta W 16 collection we visited in Paris was themed as hodgepodge and a porridge (hey that works almost every time), but that what we actually found was something moving and traditional which seemed to be tightly stuck  to conservative sartorial wisdom, featuring traditional wardrobes of rural peoples (allez les montagnards à Paris), with classic tailoring as proof of conventional values woven into a folk aesthetic of clothes ready for yesteryear and ready for the ages: But with the sullen & perverse post-modern twist that the collection was entirely genderless, androgynous, and made for both women as well as men.

Now of course a pleated skirt is for women one would say, but aye today a real man is supposed to be able to wear the kilts as well.  We suppose! A cassock or a tailcoat should be something for a devout man of stature you say, but does it look good on a woman? Are we really supposed to notice the difference of who is a woman and who is a man? Did not YSL start this shocking trend many years ago when first women were dressed in suits?

As of course in rural and traditional cultures these reflections above are a much settled point and a question which would never be raised, here in the Fabio Quaranta collection W 2016 this was the very theme that caused the press release to talk about ‘porridge’ – meaning the mixing of the sexes in the concept and design of the collection.

Think the traditional wear of the Amish, the Mennonites, old Huguenots, Waldensians, and other very orthodox and often strict religious groups and cultures, but then refashioned and refurbished so that both men and women can all wear the same thing. Think it in traditional wool, in alpaca, velvet, and aye, of course, that heavy woven farmers cloth – which almost looks like rope or sackcloth, but here to be seen in grand assembly and on show and on display being worn by boys who could be girls and girls who could be boys: A grand provocation of course, and a contrast and an opposition of what are traditional values with what some have come to expect to be a modern cosmopolitan life (as a direct result of this show all men can now start braiding their hair on both sides in the traditional and authentic Asterix & Obelix, the Gaulois style, but BDMOTP recommends that you keep a moustache).

So as confusing as the press release was, these are the wholesome trends and signatures for this collection: Genderless, traditional, folkloric, and conventional – with conservative colors (loads of brown) and materials matching the values of the rural peoples and communities of yore. Not all so hodgepodge and porridge (except for the colors maybe) as expected.  A serene type of traditional beauty follows this very worthwhile collection, and BDMOTP hopes that Fabio Quaranta W 16 will take off on city streets where it once left off: On the mountains, in the hills, and in old and forgotten villages…

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Posted by Sandro Joo and photos by Franz Kennedy.

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After 22/4 on Day I of Paris FW 15, this was BDMOTP’s second day coming to the Palais de Tokyo in the 16th arrondissement of Paris on Day II, a venue where several fashion shows are being held. It serves as a great location with plenty of different type of space for runways inside, and is set high up on the hill above the river with the Eiffel Tower serving as a backdrop on the other side of the bridge. Great venue, great location, as the Boris Bidjan Saberi runway show was being held squarely on the mezzanine of the building – a space nothing fancy – but something very professional which we could tell by the light fixtures. Had the ghost of Yves Saint Laurent, the man, shown up in noir et blanc and with some inconspicuous nerd glasses, in other words, no one would have really looked surprised.

The show was good and short, but left a strong image and a strong memory, for here we witnessed the Pilgrim’s Progress, as in some life of the path of the Buddha with young men going EAST looking for James Hilton’s Lost Horizon in search for some latter day Shangri-La walking alone in stealth and solemn procession of orange & carmine (the colors of the Buddha), black & grey, and in camel & beige – but with the tints and hues of what can only be the Sands of Samarkand, because the Silk Road is endless and leads continuously EAST, so that your menswear better resembles an old & rugged Persian carpet, while you carry your sleeping mat upon your back. Could it serve as a flying carpet maybe?  Or so we wondered.

Franz Kennedy P1080085

Mongolian winter hats, trapper-strapping boots, and Middle Kingdom parkas which Marco Polo might have donned when meeting Kubla Khan after several thousand miles of lonely desert road – did cross our imagination momentarily when gazing at the runway, but when looking closely we noticed rubber gloves – in black, orange, and beige – as well as various kitchen aprons worn, the meaning of this latter day urban version of a lonely pilgrim’s journey to the EAST became more clear:

For man(kind) is not lost but we are on a never-ending urban journey ready to lay our heads wherever we may, wherever we can, in order to one day meet at the Middle Kingdom of our cosmopolitan dreams.  For this end we fix our gaze at the horizon with face-paint in black or orange on our stern (sic), and we carry sleeping mats and rubber gloves and aprons and oriental shoulder sacs – with some fruits or nuts inside – so as not to be exposed to the elements on our rigorous and endless journey – our ears and neck well protected by camel & pony shorn Mongolian hats – while we ride the metro, the subway, or a dirty Greyhound bus.

It actually all makes sense with this beautiful collection created by Boris Bidjan Saberi if you think about it, when in the end perhaps you get to meet the great Kubla Kahn.

‘In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree …’

(Coleridge)

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Posted by Sandro Joo and photos by Franz Kennedy.

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