3 posts tagged "Bernhard Willhelm"
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.
Camper, the Majorcan footwear company, is known for its casual kicks, but the label also keeps a bead on the weird-is-wonderful market. With its bottom line attended to by sensible shoes, the company is free to indulge its taste for artful oddity with the collaborative Together line. Not that they’ve stinted on the trappings for the project. Together’s collaborators have included the industrial designers Jaime Hayon and Hella Jongerius and German fashion designer Bernhard Willhelm, now in his fourth season with the brand. Willhelm, fresh from a show on Friday where he dressed models in Japanese shibori-pattern sheaths and surf-punk graphic tees to weirdly Dada effect, kept the beach bum vibe strong for Camper. His multicolored, hiking boot-inspired trainer with an open “wave” sole gave even Camper’s ingenious, Barcelona-based design department pause (they eventually figured it out). Perhaps in celebration of that accomplishment, the brand threw Willhelm a party last night at its Faubourg Saint-Honoré shop. “I wanted a pair of shoes to make you feel like you’re standing on a wave,” Willhelm explained of his design. “I suppose my favorite place to be is somewhere between good taste and bad. And I’m sick of slick high heels, now. I prefer funny feet.”
If there’s one thing that you can count on during Paris fashion week, it’s that the Bernhard Willhelm show will be a spectacle. Not because, like Jean Paul Gaultier, he has a troupe of ballet dancers as an opening act, or because, like Giambattista Valli, he has a myriad of celebrities in attendance, but simply because of the sheer absurdity of the characters both on and off the catwalk. A confused superhero (Superman outfit, Spider-Man mask), a robot, and a Germanic-looking Smurf were just a few highlights from the audience at Thursday’s show. Luckily, Wilhelm had permeated his Spring ’09 collection with enough eccentricity to compete: He showed clay jewelry modeled on his favorite German delicacies. Oversize pretzel brooch or a wurst necklace, anyone?