Body as Monument – Rebekka Ruétz 2014 A/W collection – MBFW Berlin

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Rebekka Ruétz’s 2014 A/W collection breathes new life into the myth surrounding Old Hollywood style icons Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo. Rather than directly referring to them by name—a point that may or may not be intentional on Ruétz’s part, but would most likely sit well with the glamorous yet notoriously private Dietrich and Garbo—Ruétz draws inspiration from the architectural tradition of art deco in order to recreate the distinct masculine-inspired style of dress favored by Dietrich and Garbo.

Ruétz builds out her collection of long-sleeve blazers, high-collared blouses, trousers and overcoats using bold lines and symmetry, both of which are expressive techniques intrinsic to the art deco tradition. Each line is reinforced by deep shades of black, navy and brown, occasionally accented by gold and white.

The geometric quality of these designs generates a powerful image of the female body, likening her to a monument. Leather cutout vests layered over evening dresses (pictured below) give rise to patterns that bear a striking resemblance to the tower of the Chrysler building—an art deco style skyscraper that has been a prominent component of the New York City skyline since the early 20th century. The decadent beading detail on the vest brings to mind Garbo’s onscreen portrayal of Mata Hari, an exotic dancer who was executed by a firing squad after being accused of spying for the Germans during World War I. Adhering to the body-as-monument paradigm, Garbo’s resurrection of Mata Hari is, at once, a celebration of the latter’s legacy, yet also an acknowledgement of the female body’s fragility when placed at the mercy of patriarchy. Similarly, Ruetz’s vest encapsulates the fragility and strength that characterizes the true condition of the female body.

*Please be advised that the photo at the top of this article was taken by me during the show.

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Mame, No Need to be Ashamed – Lena Hoschek 2014 A/W Collection – MBFW Berlin

The air was thick.

Considering that Mercedes-Benz and IMG put on fashion shows around the world year-round, you would think that they would know how to prevent the temperature of a room from skyrocketing as it gets filled up.

via Scene

Rita Hayworth’s famous performance of “Put the Blame on Mame” in the
1946 film noir ‘Gilda’ (via Scene)

In retrospect, however, the heat was actually a fitting welcome to Lena Hoschek’s celebration of noir and pin-up culture in her 2014 A/W collection. Hoschek’s trademark sweetheart necklines, form-fitting pencil skirts and dresses are design elements that actually date back to the 1940s and 1950s. Loosely curled hair and the incorporation of evening gloves into the collection call back to Rita Hayworth as the femme fatale Gilda. Archival footage, projected against the back wall of the runway, depicting women in various states of undress, functions as a dynamic pin-up backdrop for the entirety of the show. All in all, Hoschek engineered the perfect playground for women who get turned on by vintage.

Despite Hoschek’s transparent emulation of specific noir and pin-up conventions, classifying her collection as pastiche would be a mistake. In fact, she has no problem reworking noir and pin-up so that it fits her aesthetic philosophy. The first look that she puts on the runway—a nude sequin dress with a scoop neck and gathered skirt—appears in stark contrast to the aesthetic conventions she has just set up with the video backdrop. True, the dress is stunning, but at the beginning of the show, it appears out of place. However, as the show progresses and Hoschek adds in yet another trademark—her cheerful floral patterns, of course—it becomes clear that Hoschek is attempting to remove the taboo from noir and pinup so that her fans can feel comfortable with embracing their darker fantasies.

In addition to the nude sequin dress at the beginning of the show, other stand out pieces include: a sheer black polka dot dress layered over a full coverage bra, high-waisted briefs and garters; high-waisted floral patterned crop pants paired with a bright red bustier and cardigan; two negligee inspired cocktail dresses, one black and the other fashioned out of a floral pattern; and finally a gray dress and a champagne evening gown, both of which are adorned by trails of translucent leaves.

The scope of this collection and the overall vision of the label seems to indicate a strong crossover potential to the United States. Whether or not Hoschek is interested in making such a move remains to be seen. Unlike specialty retailers such as Betty Page Clothing and ModCloth, Hoschek has the credentials to capture the interest of a much larger portion of the high-end market. Fingers crossed.

Clean. Bold. Loose. – IVANMAN 2014 A/W Collection – MBFW Berlin

Ivan Mandzukic seems to have struck a fine balance between austerity and casualness with his latest collection.

The 2014 A/W IVANMAN collection is mostly comprised of loose-fitting overcoats, blazers, sweatshirts and high waisted trousers. Not only are these loose-fitting garments synonymous with casual attire, but they also reinforce Mandzukic’s minimalist design philosophy: clean, bold lines. Many of these lines have been built into the design of each garment. Still others, however, are developing in real time–as loose-fitting garments readjust with the slightest touch, creating a new fold in one place just as another disappears.

Mandzukic’s reverence for form sets him apart from his contemporaries. Fashion has a tendency to not only hold the past in high regard, but also try to recreate it. Precedent, however, doesn’t seem to bother Mandzukic: as demonstrated by the use of turtlenecks and striped collar pieces in this collection, so as to accentuate the structure and length of each model’s neck. A bizarre, yet admirable flourish. Admirable because it has us wondering what will come next. Not just for Mandzukic and IVANMAN, but rather for fashion as a whole.

* All photographs were taken by me, Shipra Harbola Gupta.