MADE + Eckhaus Latta Threw An Epic Free Shopping Party In Berlin
It had been three whole years since I had last seen an Eckhaus Latta presentation/show/conceptual project/exercise in self-reflexive irony. Friday night, however, I got the chance soak my senses once again with a “curated experience” dubbed “EL International Fashion Week” courtesy of the design duo, notorious for occupying that nebulous space between art and fashion. Of course, this all went down in an old carpet factory in my adopted hometown of Berlin, to celebrate MADE’s first foray into Berlin Fashion Week. It was preceded by a dinner hosted by MADE and local designer Ottolinger, leading to an exchange program of sorts; the German label will be showing in New York at MADE Fashion Week for Spring and Fall 2017.
The party wasn’t an atypical Eckhaus Latta affair, in the sense that there were no human skin prints or sheathes of fuzz and silk modelled by an army post-apocalyptic desert folk or the art-glitterati of the Lower East Side. Given that Mike Eckhaus studied sculpture at the Rhode Island School of Art & Design and Zoe Latta studied textiles, I wasn’t totally disarmed when I trotted into the industrial space where the presentation took place, to find a very dense architectural web of vintage clothes, carefully strewn on lines from corner to corner with deft angular precision, blocking my path to the open bar. I’m promptly told that everything must go and guests are encouraged to take a piece of clothing with them. Obviously in Berlin, people came along armed with empty carrier bags to stock up.
While I’m somewhat disappointed I didn’t get to revel in the more conventional aesthetic eccentricities of Eckhaus Latta I’ve come to know and love (no frayed sea-foam bleached sere silk in sight), it was certainly an inclusive aesthetic experience that offered an understanding of Mike’s dimensionality as a former sculptor, and Zoe’s firm grip on patterns and surfaces. For example, an oversized mustard t-shirt distressed by age (almost resembling a burlap sack not totally alien to the EL visual oeuvre) is delicately anchored over a primrose silk slip dress. Suddenly, there’s a soft-sculptural presence to this whole messy visual arrangement of Goodwill’s greatest hits, and it demonstrates the same predilection of soft angles, layering and difficult materials that Eckhaus Latta have become known for over the years.
To be honest, I’m not sure if this was a site-specific project masquerading as an after-party or a booze-filled free shopping spree, but this sense of abstract ambiguity is perhaps precisely what you would expect from a brand that remains resolutely dismissive of definition. Winding your way through this web of curated vintage, with a Moscow Mule in hand, occasionally getting stuck in some glaucous green sportswear and all against the sonic backdrop of self-affirmed techno princess Sita Abellan’s DJ set (you might remember her from Rihanna’s majestic BBHMM video) was a pretty celestial experience, actually. When the night finally wound down, the clothes lines were left threadbare, and Eckhaus Latta had successfully staged yet another artistic intervention to challenge the manicured mainstream fashion industry.
Stay tuned to Milk for more indefinable fashion parties.
Photos shot by Peter Schwab