A man's legs, clad in purple leggings, writhe in a circular motion atop a washing machine. A man in checkered sweats slides and wriggles across a linoleum floor, also checkered. A foursome of men, legs in the air, mimic the swirls of a dishwasher wearing only underwear and striped socks. And these same muscular men in torn fishnets and Lycra bodysuits lapdance on bar chairs in what could be described as Flashdance meets Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
Who are these men? They're dancers, and these moments are just a few of the homo-charged scenes in "Men In Tights," a short film and the fall men's collection from Bernhard Willhelm, which he screened last month in Paris and which he re-screened to a small audience at the Tribeca Grand during New York Fashion Week. The film—made in collaboration with Nick Knight—is at once funny, sweet, clever and sexy, and it put all those at the New York screening in the mood for the after-party at Arena, where In Flagranti pumped its salacious beats and rhymes, while mannish G. Rizo sang her husky heart out. Here, a quickie Q&A with Bernhard about his Men In Tights...
What's the concept of the film? It's about body, movement and gesture. It also plays with the isolation of body parts, performance and conceptual art—think ['60s artist] Mel Bochner. Damien Jalet did the choreography.
And the collection? The collection is a non-violent approach to dance and movement. The silhouette is based on academic dance; specifically, what dancers wear during rehearsals—layered but also skin-revealing. There are different color groups—gray, beige, blue and flash—with interesting elements, such as cutouts, cropping, draping and geometric zigzag patterns. There's also experimental stretch bodywear in Lycra and our new range of wild underwear and socks.
What’s your favorite memory from making on Men In Tights? The last scene of the film was the most fun: Robin on the chair with red balloons. We kept the scene blurry so that you imagine a woman playing with her hips and breasts—very sexual. At the end of the scene, the balloons explode and you see Robin clearly. We had such a laugh doing it!
Who were the models/dancers? Were you one of them? No, I wasn't. We used four dancers from London, all very different. Jason Beitel is Australian and he works with Kylie Minogue, Robin Dingemans has a more experimental dance background, Lee Bridgman is a young and elf-like dance student and Eric Underwood is from the Royal Ballet.
What else do you have going on these days? Right now I have to finish the new women's collection that will be presented on the 27th of February. After that, hopefully I can relax in the Swiss Alps.