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Bernhard Willhelm’s Fashion Fiesta

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Chaos and confusion were the order of the day at Bernhard Willhelm’s Mexican-fiesta-themed presentation at Paris’ Kogan Gallery yesterday evening. But, according to the rambunctious German designer, who came dressed for the occasion in a sombrero and a coconut necklace, that was precisely the point. “The theme is ‘You’ll Never See What You Have Paid For,’ and then we went Mexican, but the collection is not Mexican,” said Willhelm. “It doesn’t really make sense, but that’s the only way to describe it.”

Models caused a stir on the street as they shimmied in front of the gallery window wearing cutout frocks printed with collaged human eyes, two-toned leggings, and retro trainers. Characteristic of Willhem’s conceptual perspective, the runway was an installation by New York-based artist Christian Holstad. Wrapping around the gallery, it featured totems made of discarded fashion magazines, hanging sculptures crafted from vegetables, fruit, and plastic wrap, and what appeared to be Styrofoam cakes spinning on old record players. The models, with their radioactive-pink lips and shredded-paper pigtails, effectively merged with the artwork: One girl smashed a cake against the window while showing off her tribal-print black and white tunic, while another incorporated a watermelon-topped umbrella into her strut.

Most of the designer’s playful street-cool looks were paired with metal MYKITA glasses with XXL cut into where the lenses should have been. “It means live large, even if you only have a little money,” explained the designer. Judging by the models’ lighthearted runway behavior, as well as the laughing, if not rowdy guests, Willhelm’s point was well taken. And perhaps, in these pressed times, his collection’s message makes sense after all.

Photo: Courtesy of Bernhard Willhelm

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