22/4 is a quality German brand from Dusseldorf created by designer Stephanie Hahn with an interesting twist: It makes no distinction anymore between clothes for men and clothes for women. Whereas the designers of the past seemed to always look to men’s collections for inspiration for women, today the reverse is true in that more and more designers – like Stephanie Hahn – are looking at women’s collections to change the styles, fabrics, and designs for men. It surely makes for good spectacle because this way the men’s clothes achieve a natural form of elegance while maintaining the traditional sporty men-in-action look. Not a bad achievement at all even though the ‘skirts-for-men’ principle will take much getting used to for some – unless you are used to bagpipers in Scottish kilts parading in your local neighborhood of course.

Stephanie Hahn uses good quality fabrics and finishing and one of her signatures is the trench coat, to such an extent that some of her collections will take on an elegance retro kind of look for the simple reason that the trench first came into full swing many decades ago as the item in vogue for women as well as men and always as a pièce-avant-gardist ahead of the trends. A very masculine item thus adopted traditionally by women smoking cool and elongated cigarettes in cool black and white movies where the conversation is slow and where the love was still as wine. How to go wrong with such style despite the fact you like to integrate all colors and shapes into unisex items? You can’t. And that is precisely the secret of the 22/4 collection.

One French magazine calls this style concept described in the paragraph above ‘classique revisité’ – classic revisited – and we at BDMOTP couldn’t agree more because there is a difference between plain old ‘retro’ (retro sounding retro) and a modern sort of transgender urban chic which harks to the past but which fits right in with the signs of the times. Classic revisited. As in give that old Greta Garbo and Humphrey Bogart look a new and contemporary twist so that men look more feminine and the women more masculine. If you can see that, you will get the idea behind the new design classicism of the 22/4 collections.

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Posted by Sandro and photos by Mous.

 

Of course this show was always going to have class (in addition to serious style) and we were lucky to get invitations to show you the latest Wooyoungmi collection. As a matter of fact BDMOTP was invited backstage before the show (rather than after) which makes for some very interesting and entertaining observations. But we’ll keep that a secret even though we are giving you a glimpse, because the setting of the show was nothing less but the Intercontinental Hotel Paris’ Salle des Miroirs, one of those marvels of why Paris will remain the capital of fashion for the foreseeable future, because ambiance and entourage and decoration are not just something in fashion – they are everything.

Backstage Rehearsal

Backstage Rehearsal

Remarkably the gilded, crystal-chandeliered, and baroque anti–chambre was the perfect beginning for the models waiting for un voyage dans la lune – a voyage to the moon – because that was the theme of this precious show which was casted as a luxurious voyage to the moon in the age where it has actually become possible to do so. The excitement and emotion of actually travelling to the moon to live there for a new generation is the concept around which this show was based, and it must maybe not reckon as a coincidence that what is widely considered to be the world’s first real film (Le Voyage dans la Lune, by George Méliès) was released a mere 113 years ago in 1902 in France, when going to the moon to live there was still but sheer dreams and fantasy.

So smack in the middle of the grand hall of mirrors there is set a giant round lighted moon, a beautiful white moon, around which the well-dressed models turn and twist in intricate patterns but always in a circle, so as if to defy escape-velocity only to eventually involuntarily return back to earth. The choreography is capturing and beautiful and as classy as the collection and it is precisely for this reason that Wooyoungmi (Mme Woo and Katie Chung) has such an outstanding reputation. It’s class. The ambiance. The meaning and the design. The organization. The vêtements in the new collection SS16.  Un voyage dans la lune.

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Posted by Sandro and photos by Mous.

The RYNSHU look, drop silhouettes shades always included

Now, there is a few things you really need to know about this show. One: it’s damn good! Two: the designer’s signature is highly recognizable and highly entertaining every time you see his work again (last time there was a close encounter of the third kind). And three: he loves blacks, dark coatings, jacquards, and special dark lacquers on leather (kurozan aka the black diamond of leather).

The RYNSHU look, drop silhouettes shades always included

The RYNSHU look, drop silhouettes shades always included

And then there are those ubiquitous RYNSHU sunglasses in every show.  We see them a lot on many runways of course but RYNSHU maybe rare in that these shades in and off themselves may define the brand.  Oh so now you are curious?  So were we. They are called‘drop silhouette sunglasses’ and they were probably most famously worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

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But here is the twist. RYNSHU decided for his latest SS16 collection to add the following extra layer of color cool factor: Lavender, Egyptian blue, and lavish pink. Hot pink. Flash pink. Lily-rose pink. Some call it electric pink or fluorescent pink. For writing purposes BDMOTP will dub it Lady Gaga Pink because the lead model was wearing a pink wig (or perhaps that RYNSHU has very gifted hair stylists) which was clearly the standout item of the show. And in a long and obedient procession following the pink wig there followed rather marvelous and grand collection of creations with the grand contrasts of lavender, Egyptian blue, but mostly flash pink against the 23 different shades of black known on the spectrum. All the way from manga to hentai and back.

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Pink carrot pants on black ankle boots with an Egyptian blue blouse

Thus the RYNSHU runway show strikes hard again, and leaves a lasting impression. In baseball metaphor, this is a hit and a run. Something you want to see again. Hey, something you may want to wear …

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Posted by Sandro and photos by Mous.

 

We are back at the Couvent des Cordeliers in Paris (Julius was the first show there) as it is a great location for a runway – the old medieval church setting is perfect – and this time to witness the Paris Men’s SS16 for Songzio, a designer from Korea.

If we would have to believe the press release it seemed things were promising to be mighty complex to the point of hallucination, but if you realize that most designer have so many ideas and things they all want to implement at the same time, you will find that this actually happens quite frequently when you read the runway show paperwork, namely, that the press release causes confusion rather than that it clears things up.  The advice then becomes: Don’t worry, sit tight, and just watch the show (and keep your handheld in your pocket).

No sweat here, because the new collection was beautiful as the earthy, brownish and greyish color cuts paraded through the gothic limelights up and down the smoky and mirrored runway, all models looking as if somehow they were casting for a forgotten episode from Game of Thrones, for the role of some cleric or the other, in other words, the medieval mind set and spirit very much captured live, from the first model to the very last.

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Posted by Sandro and photos by Mous.

No Editions 3

Blank name tag loose military fatigues

This is an interesting presentation by No Editions at the Maison de Métallos in Paris pretty deep unto the Rive Droit close to Belleville, but you really have to read between the lines before you understand the various concepts behind the showroom presentation.

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Blank name tag escapee prison garment in Japanese denim

For one No Editions is a brand that is used to its ‘logo and word (name) to express negation, dissent, denial, or refusal’ as our press paper reads, and key topics in the SS16 collection are the global pollution of oceans as well as global data retention. Designer activism if you will. We noticed a similar social activist topic earlier in the week with Walter van Beirendonck who named his show Electric Eye, and in London with Vivienne Westwood, but here at No Editions the devil is in the detail. We’ll explain it.

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For each of the models is wearing a doggy tag, a soldiers tag, but the tag is large and bland and blank and shiny and holds no name, so as to indicate the nameless state of people in the age of total internet surveillance and data retention and registration. Each tag is made of solid silver, gold, platinum and other alloy which is used by Silicon Valley to harness, conduct, and store all our personal data. We no longer have a name, but we have become superconducting materials ourselves in the form of just a pretty large and visible nameless gold tag, so that someone can hold all our information, somewhere in a data warehouse in some far off and well–cooled and unknown region of the globe.

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But that is not all there is to it, because interestingly where all individual identity has been erased, style and fashion makes up for this total recall at No Editions. For each individual item on display is actually completely unique, yet not couture. Each individual item exists in unique series of 60 to 90 different pieces, all adjusted, not individualized or personalized, but each one different than the next or the former, so that our individuality is no longer expressed through personality, but through our numbered prison wear and garment. A serial number has been assigned to us, by grace of our choice of style and fashion, and indeed, each item on display carries not only an individual serial number on the inside of the fabric, but actually a complete description of how the item was designed and made.

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All sandals for No Editions made by Xero Shoes

Wow, that’s heavy, but the French would say ‘touché’ because the No Editions designers have made a serious point. If prêt-à-porter was the beginning of democratization in fashion, perhaps this new design MO (modus operandi) of serializing our identities through unique style items in different series is the scope and vision of the future.

And this is precisely why any self-respecting person today needs a serious stylist. Not so that you can show character and personality- this is so passé, so very 20th century, – or even your own style, but so that you can fit well into the series in which you are currently playing and moving around. Let the identity wars begin.

Post by Sandro and photos by Mous.

BDMOTP did an article on Julius quite recently and were impressed at that time with his many shades of black, and his positive Zen philosophy of the different shades of darkness – and we were impressed with the dark goggles in the private collection and we determined it was like something out of the film the Matrix Reloaded –, so no surprise that the runway show of Julius SS16 turned out to be equally challenging and interesting.

Setting of the runway was a gothic looking revamped medieval church (yes, they exist in Paris) and waiting outside to get in it becomes clear that Julius has a rather arcane large following of ‘disciples’ of fashion lovers who like to go dressed in the typically recognizable Julius style and see the show. A select crowd thus and the venue was good.

So proved the show itself and no surprise then that rather than zen, this show boasted several other spiritual forms of heritage ranging from magic to cabbalistic, to shaman.  But it is this latter qualification (shamanism) that BDMOTP would chose for you if we had to explain to it because the entire show was decidedly tribal in its forms and connotations.

Body paint. Ritual walks. Ritual sounds. Ritual dress and wear. Long dress and gown in tribal and dark colors but also in white. Lots of browns and shades of earthy brown. Sturdy and earthy materials. No garlands worn but tree trunks. Hey, why not wearing a tree trunk! As long as it fits.

All of this was beautifully choreographed on something which was not exactly music but more a deep cacophony of tribal sound. Think of a giant metallic post-modern didgeridoo playing and moving, waxing and waning with sounds all emanating in one great crescendo.  And then a deep tribal silence. The silence of the wilderness.

Special tribal mention is reserved for the piece of clothing which we shall dub ‘the tent’ – a giant walking human wing in ritual patterns of black and white.  It may sound crazy but this magic and ritual dress kind of fit and carried the whole show. We were witnessing some alien form of tribal initiation. The gods and the spirits must be appeased. Or to speak with the Julius press release:

In the desert, like wind, they wander. Dry sand, weathered stone, rotten flower.

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Posted by Sandro and photos by Mous.

This is a hybrid form of style / fashion performance and concept art where Andrea Crews is trying to break the boundaries between several things in the age of social media where everything gets instantaneously swapped, blended, shared – all at the same time.

Andrea Crews 1

The setting of the IMMORTAL show (a reference to martial arts and its sport club logo obsessions) is a sports school (in our case the racket ball courts) where behind glass walls style and fashion performance art – the flyer calls it ‘living paintings’ – are taking place. And each difference ‘style performance’ is supposed to indicate a different form of style (and hence identity) blending, the idea behind it being that in the age of social media identities no longer really exists, but that identity has the power to bend, blend and shapeshift across several spectrums at the same time.

Trans-culturalism

Trans-culturalism

The style-concept-art in the first racketball court – according to the press release – is meant to describe what Andrea Crews calls ‘trans-culturalism’  by presenting to us a group of black asians. The idea may be here that the oriental dojo sports school logo styles and fashion for men can break cultural barriers and that identities can thus merge, blend, or shift.

Trans-estheticism

Trans-estheticism

In court number two we witness young men and women laying on the floor as dead under the logo sign IMMORTAL as a contradiction in terms. There is an element of transgenderism here in that – by their style – it is difficult to distinguish the men from the women but reading the press release it becomes clear that what we are dealing here with nothing less than models selected on social media for this event because they all have the same ‘singular beauty’.

You see, on the internet and in the virtual world, EVERYONE is pretty – as everyone can as if by whim and want always manipulate their selfies in the latest photoshop or instagram application. Beauty is blending and shifting all the time and has nothing to do with whether you are male or female, black or white, or old or young anymore. Beauty is for everyone and in a virtual utopia it has become the great equalizer, the mother of all democracy. And thus style is starting to bend and shape towards technology, and no longer to our gender, our culture, or our beliefs and values.

Transtylism

Transtylism?

To put a stamp on this conceptual style-morphism the press release freely admits that indeed the show and presentation is trying to break free from what it calls ‘classical codes’ of style and fashion. But you really have to wonder about to where such type of deliberate iconoclasm will eventually lead. Should all culture, gender, and other forms of identity always be subject to continuous change of shape, blending, and sharing – or plagiarism and copying perhaps?  It’s the world of personal style for copy and paste.

And thus in court number three we actually get to admire some real different styles. And they are cool. They have a sporty look and pattern to them but by now we are seriously wondering if the idea here is that all style gets blended always so that it can be swapped and shared immediately. Such ‘transtylism’ would not be out of order for Andrea Crews we think.

Blending cultures and styles

Blending cultures and styles

The moral of this men’s fashion story may be that we all better only do our fashion shopping online. For this way we can never buy the wrong thing – and this way noone can ever challenge our gender, our beauty, our identity, or our pride. You see it’s very safe to always be your own avatar. And thus life in 2015 has become like something out of SimCity while we are slowly creating and constructing a virtual world which is perfect and according to all our specifications.  Our style is not just only for sale – as if it were luxury, but actually has become swappable, tradable, instantly changeable, sharable, and of course expendable – which allows identities to fudge, blend, bend, shapeshift, and mill around in ever stranger ways.  The global derivatives market of personal indentity is not far off in the future.  And it is a market which Andrea Crews has begun to tap into.

The first style bender

The first style bender

Posted by Sandro and photos by Mous.

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.

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