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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Paris Men's Week: Bernhard Willhelm

Conceptualism gets a rough ride, and deservedly so, but this show-installation hybrid was a real piece of theater. As people—including Willhelm's former tutor, Walter Van Beirendonck—were seated, no one seemed to know if the show had begun or not. Why? Because the models were being dressed in full view, amid the baroque magnificence of Paris' old Bourse. When the show finally began in earnest it became clear we were looking at a kind of mad artist's studio and the models were his works of art, slowly transforming into something more and more extreme. Some grew a giant Brothers Grimm-like dreadlock, others had lampshades or buckets on their heads, and all were given crazy prints and folksy patterns.

But strip away the heavy, clowny accessorizing and the main pieces were clean and sharp enough to work in the real world. Silhouettes and cuts were slim variations on tracksuits and pajamas. Willhelm is still meditating on ways to bare flesh, with increasing success. He himself looks hot, not silly, in his little shorts.

The show ended as it began, with the impression of chaos. Art and weirdness that resist the authority of menswear, with its rules about luxe and snobbery, are Willhelm's humanistic approach. The free-thinker is back.

—Daryoush Haj-Najafi

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Class Conscious

The fashion master class at Vienna's University of Applied Arts is in for a dramatic change with the exit of visiting professors Raf Simons and Véronique Branquinho. After nine years of Antwerp purism, Bernhard Willhelm has just been confirmed as Véronique's successor in the fall, making the university's 2009 runway show last week all the more sentimental.

Without a doubt the next darling of Vienna's fashion scene is Tbilisi-born George Beshanizhvili, who presented his second consecutive Devendra Banhart-inspired collection, earning him a spot in London's Graduate Fashion Week...

photos courtesy George Bezhanishvili

Though only in her second year, Aya Nonogaki is definitely one to watch, if surreal, Schiaparelli-style humor is your thing...

Aya Nonogaki, photos Shoji Fujii

Dimitrije Gojkovic made a convincing case for unisex minimalism, even if we've seen a lot of that lately. It'll be interesting to see what happens under Bernhard Willhelm's guidance...

Dimitrije Gojkovic, photos Shoji Fujii

Leave it to graduate Franziska Fürpass to create the only sophisticated ladylike look, incredible though it may seem...

Franziska Fürpass, photos Michael Dürr

Another graduate, Astrid Deigner sent out a high-waisted mafioso look with comically large hats. Dick Tracy says hello...

Astrid Deigner, photos Michael Dürr

—Daniel Kalt for Austrianfashion.net

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Vienna Calling, and Catwalking

It seems like there are more Fashion Weeks around the world than there are weeks in the year. And why not? Who wouldn't want a slice of the glamour cake? Or strudel, in the case of Vienna's 9 festival, where ten days of fall collections, award ceremonies and gallery shows just wrapped. These are our runway picks...

The show-stopper of the week—even with its impossible-to-pronounce Icelandic title—came from Vienna's best-known talent, menswear designer Ute Ploier. Intelligent, sharply tailored and perfectly sophisticated, it was the logical apogee of an evolution that started in 2003, when she won the Hyères festival.

Ute Ploier, photos Shoji Fujii

Queen of jersey and the brain behind Awareness & Consciousness, Christiane Gruber nevers stops reworking the free-floating silhouette of her refined yet simple jumpsuits and tunics, often hand-dyed. Her current collection earned her a one-year sponsorship.

Christiane Gruber, photos Bettina Komenda

Young and petite, Ali Zedwitz already spent a year at Jil Sander in Milan when she graduated from university with a collection reminiscent of Gareth Pugh, which earned her a scholarship to spend a year abroad—preferably in Japan, we hear. Konichiwa!

Ali Zedwitz, photos Gregor Titze

Peter Holzinger is the creative mastermind behind Superated. With its nicely cut jackets and sexy pants, his fall collection, "Frightening & tempting," was certainly the second rather than the first. What's more, with the dotted long johns, Peter seems to be getting ready for Bernhard Willhelm, who's reported to replace Véronique Branquinho as a visiting fashion professor at Vienna's University of Applied Arts in the fall.

Superated, photos Klaus Vyhnalek

In a way, Thomas Kirchgrabner for Liska is Vienna's Peter Dundas for Révillon. His reinvention of fur was witty (is that a tartan pattern in the fur?), although we weren't crazy for the lacy leather cutouts dangling at the bottom of some of the dresses.

Liska, photos Andreas Tischler & Juergen Hammerschmid

Whoever thinks the cheeky pick 'n' mix style is exclusive to Berlin is proved wrong by Christina Berger's decidedly trashy take on fashion, for which she received a generous award provided by the City of Vienna.

Christina Berger, photos Sonny Vandevelde

You'll either love or hate House of the Very Island's slouchy men's silhouette, if you can call it a silhouette, but you have to respect anyone going green these days.

House of the Very Island's, photos Klaus Vyhnalek

—Daniel Kalt, in collaboration with Austrianfashion.net

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hooked: Bernhard Willhem x MYKITA

Titillated by the thrill and pageantry (and perhaps the spandex), Bernhard Willhelm whipped up an ode to winter sports for his latest men's collection—specifically, the 1976 Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria. The nod to sport during the disco decade might also explain Bernhard’s less than utilitarian take on the gear, which, needless to say, doesn’t follow IOC regulations, much less keep the frost from nibbling at your medals.

Still, as you're speeding down the slopes in a neon leotard and a face full of make-up, as Bernhard showed for fall, rest assured at least one thing will be protected: your vision. In collaboration with the techno-chic wizardry of MYKITA, Bernhard has produced a limited series of monochrome, mirrored aviators with ultra-lightweight sheet-metal frames. Sleek and aerodynamic, these are the jetsetting alternative to clunky goggles. Available in three athletic-y hues, they’re sure to give you that swinger's edge while deflecting snow-glare and harmful UV rays.

—Franklin Melendez

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Backstage Beauty

...at Paris Fashion Week. Photos by Sonny Vandevelde...

Jean Paul Gaultier

Sonia Rykiel

Viktor & Rolf

Bernhard Willhelm

Jeremy Scott

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Never Too Old for Macaroons

Pamela Anderson, the busty 42-year-old femme fatale, pranced around Vivienne Westwood's catwalk in a tutu, proving that the notion of over-the-hill is over-the-hill. There's also been a runway revival of sorts for a couple of veteran models. Erin Wasson may have RVCA, but she also walked for Balmain, and mother of two Liya Kebede opened for Balenciaga. And let's not forget those Louis Vuitton ads with Madonna. Oh, cougars.

Otherwise, Bernhard Willhelm's collection was one part greatest hits, one part more of the same. If you haven't picked up a piecey Willhelm tartan plaid dress yet, don't worry, there are plenty more to come for fall. There were also gold, life-size banana barrettes and sheer multi-colored hoods topping an array of dip-dyed tunics and argyle knits.

Like many Paris designers, Romeo Gigli spun the idea of menswear for his first collection for Io Ipse Idem: angular shoulders on blazers, impeccable men's suiting and beautifully tailored coats, many with a swing to them that the models accentuated in their dance-like presentation. We came, we saw, we coveted. And the towers of macaroons, strawberries and kumquats were a nice touch.

—Bee-Shyuan Chang

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hint Tip: Freudenthal & Verhagen

In cheerier art news, Dutch photographers Carmen Freudenthal and Elle Verhagen, best known for their winky work with Bernhard Willhelm, will close out Milan Fashion Week on March 3, when they launch a retrospective at Dopo Lavoro gallery...

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Bernhard Willhelm at Berlin Fashion Week

By Thomas Pieper...

Berlin Fashion Week—with its five-day marathon of shows, parties, after-parties and after-after-parties—is now over. The consensus? That it sparkled less than its previous four seasons. Nevertheless, here are two highlights.

The one show everyone was looking forward to also caused the biggest surprise. While waiting outside Postbahnhof club for Bernhard Willhelm's collection, a rumor spread through the crowd that it wouldn't be a regular runway show. Indeed Willhelm decided to hold one of his large-scale tableaux vivants. With the 1976 Innsbruck Winter Olympics as the inspiration, his fall 2009 men's collection was both fashion-forward and nostalgic. Models hammed it up inside a miniature Eiffel Tower, a giant dinosaur skeleton and other sculptures, as Bernhard himself posed and gave interviews. His first show in Berlin was the ultimate winter wonderland.

Bernhard Willhelm

The young duo of Alexandra Fischer-Roehler and Johanna Kühl, better known as Kaviar Gauche, also came up with a surprise. Their models were all but naked, wearing only flesh-colored underwear and extra-long hair extensions. After all, why distract from the cult accessory label's signature shell-shaped bags and long-fringed necklaces?

Kaviar Gauche

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Your First Look: Bernhard Willhelm at Berlin Fashion Week

Photos by Sonny Vandevelde...

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Nose Candy

Other than the venom-green walls of the elevator, color was scarce among the fashion set that gathered at the New Museum for the launch of Six Scents. Otherwise, with the olfactory collaboration between Seven New York, perfume factory Symrise and designers Gareth Pugh, Bernhard Willhelm, Preen, Jeremy Scott, Cosmic Wonder and Alexandre Herchcovitch wafting through the space, it might have been sensory overdose.

Let's just state for the record that the fragrances smell great. For his own take, I tracked down Seven's Joseph Quartana, who curated the designer list. Mostly he seemed relieved to have finally finished the store's first foray into the esoteric world of molecules, calling the project a "cherry-popper." Okay, and how has the response to the eaux de toilette been so far? The early winners are Preen and Gareth Pugh, who happened to be hosting the soiree, so I asked him what his favorite smell in the world was and if it had inspired his creation. His response was touchingly disarming: "Yes, that would be the smell of my boyfriend Carson's hair." Aww.

I then caught up with my old friend and downtown habitué Sophia Lamar, looking fantastic in an aubergine frock and shredded shoes of her own creation (now that's a positive recessionist measure). I asked her if she had a signature scent. Of course she does; she's forever been wearing Alexandra de Markoff perfume oil, which she mixes with Cacharel Pour Homme—you know, for that androgynous touch.

—Suleman Anaya

As Four's Gabi & Joseph Quartana

Gareth Pugh & Carson

The MisShapes

photos Eddie Newton/Stylesightings.com

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Friday, November 7, 2008

Hint Tip: Six Scents

The New Museum has it going on. Hot on the heels of their Elizabeth Peyton opening reception, where Marc Jacobs couldn't keep his hands off new squeeze Lorenzo Martone (and who can blame him?), comes the launch of Six Scents. We know you pored over our latest Beauty Duty, but just in case, Six Scents is the perfume collaboration between the scent masters at Symrise and six designers chosen by Seven New York. For the first in the annual partnership, the designers are Bernhard Willhelm, Alexandre Herchcovitch, Cosmic Wonder, Jeremy Scott, Preen and Gareth Pugh, who has hosting duties for the night...

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

For the Nail Files

Following its perfumed nail polish with Bernhard Willhelm a couple of months ago, presumed to be a world's first, Uslu Airlines has just come out with three new colors, inspired by the designer's fall '08 collection, available at Colette...

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Backstage beauty at Bernhard Willhelm...

Photos by Sonny Vandevelde

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Johannes Thumfart reports from Paris...

Bernhard Willhelm's fall collection was all about vegetables on sticks, fairy-tale skirts, crazy plaids, hyper-hippie bandanas and other surreal surprises—after all, he did work with Björk on her tour outfits last year. And instead of a catwalk, which he never uses, Willhelm created a stage-like setting with stairs on wheels, bags of ready-to-use clay and potted trees around which models performed a bizarre fertility ritual. It's no secret that Willhelm, with his many influences, is one of the few designers who informs tomorrow's fashion today, so this fall we look forward to wearing crime-scene hoodies and batik shirts over folkloric patterns—even if we're going to mix it with his police uniforms from the year before. Willhelm's genius will hold it all together.

photos by Rachel de Joode

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

This is the invitation to a screening of Bernhard Willhelm's "Men In Tights" short film, co-produced by Nick Knight, to present his fall men's collection. It was shown first at Paris men's week and now in New York on Feburary 1 at the Tribeca Grand. (By invitation only.) We're told to expect stockings, beards and, um, woodsy animals.

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