5 Designers Slaying The Androgynous Game at Berlin Alternative Fashion Week
Since 2014, Berlin Alternative Fashion Week has acted as an ultra-inclusive and celebratory platform for emerging designers with non-gender-conforming or genre-conforming work (and otherwise experimental, deviant or unexpected aesthetics). It’s a fashion week that defines itself by not really feeling like fashion week. Read: it’s a hell of a lot less see-and-be-seen vibes than your average FW experience. Instead, Berlin Alternative Fashion Week celebrates Berlin’s unique and growing fashion scene, which deftly intersects gender-fluid street style, BDSM-inspired everything, a DIY ethos, and a certain grunginess that’s authenticated by Berlin’s legitimate affordability for artists. The events also feature an international cast of emerging designers, so its reach goes beyond the ultra hip walls of Berlin: it’s an opportunity for experimental artists and designers from all over the world to convene and make a statement.
The latest BAFW went down last week, and featured 17 fashion shows and performances from Friday to Saturday. Needless to say, there was a diverse AF lineup of technically and conceptually mature work that drew from costume, sculpture, streetwear, and pop culture. This year included some particularly interesting and opinionated work that absolutely slayed the post-gender game. And when we say post-gender, we’re talking about looks that felt utopian in their other-worldly and totally non-binary presentation. Think visually productive and maybe even therapeutic collections that looked beyond or around the confines of gender in fashion. Hooked? Peep our five favorite designers below, and check the slideshow above for accompanying runway visuals.
Edya Jermacz is a Polish designer, and the face behind two lines: KLU and LOVEYOUTWO. The looks she sent down the runway at BAFW projected a gothic-genderqueer-steampunk identity that felt like 2017’s cast of Blade Runner. Post-apocalyptic shredded black synthetic plastics reimagined the relationship between clothing and a model’s body. Strategic exposure of skin intermingled with carnivalesque black masks: her looks successfully replaced questions of gender with sci-fi daydreams.
Freak Boutique London
Freak Boutique London is a customized leather label conceived by London-based illustrator Alice Dean. Her work is brilliant, funny, and bold, and features re-appropriated slurs that are patched, painted, and crafted onto badass leatherwear. “Sassy Bitch” and “Nancy Boy” are written on 80’s style motorcycle silhouettes. Barbie heads embellish the epaulets. Her models occupy a gender amorphous neon world of drag-inspired makeup and glamorous punked-out bubble-gum motifs. We really need one of these jackets.
OBECTRA is a Berlin-based unisex sportswear label that marries an Asian streetwear influence with a uniquely Berlin aesthetic (one that nods to the dark industrial corners of Berlin’s early AM nightlife). Leather, lace, and plastics work in silhouettes that feel like Supreme’s anarchist non-corporate cousin. Dare we say “dope” balaclavas are given a boost by slick harnesses and BDSM accessorizing. We finally found unisex athleisure done in a non-douchey, interesting way, and we’re stoked.
Maison Mason is Berlin-based designer, DJ, and illustrator Patrick Mason’s totally surreal and gender-bending label. For BAFW, he sent expressionistic and sculptural pieces down the runway that felt reminiscent of Craig Green, and also something totally new. A sense of 60’s modernism infused the collection with a delightfully old school futurism, which was totally compounded by models with nude stocking-covered faces who felt something-other-than-human. There was a lot of loose appendages: sleeves that almost skimmed the floor, oddball paneling, and hanging straps and ties. The result? An unearthly spectacle.
TZUJI London was launched in 2013 by designer Larry Tee, who also happens to be the DJ and producer who helped launch the career of American actor, model, and drag queen RuPaul. TZUJI is a loud, graphic-heavy sportswear line that foregrounds extravagance and club culture. Early 2000’s disco and club kid inspiration give his line a sense of rascally drag, post-gender playfulness and ironic self-indulgence. At BAFW, he displayed pop-art referential club wear that was ugly-pretty and exciting.
Images via Berlin Alternative Fashion Week
Stay tuned to Milk for more experimental fashion happenings.