Last weekend, the German fashion brand, Hugo Boss, took their sister label HUGO on a trip back home to Berlin. At the heart of the HUGO label is a brazen sense of youth and self-expression — these are words that one might easily find in Berlin's cultural history books.
Case in point was the techno subculture which flourished after the fall of the Berlin wall. A sense of liberation shot through the country, and youths took their unregulated raves to abandoned sites — one of them was an industrial electric motor parts production space built in 1910 called Motorwerk. Pioneer German techno DJs such as WestBam, Sven Vaäth and Marusha reportedly spun there.
Head of HUGO menswear, Bart de Backer, paid homage to this bygone breath of youthful energy. He titled his collection "Mixmasters," possibly a literal call to the proficiency of DJs, and likewise, the insouciant mix of dress codes within the subculture.
In Backer's collection, there was a piece for everyone on the streets — a loose-fitted suit, a long-line windbreaker, a pair of slim jeans, an industrial workwear for the girls, a pale pink parka for the men, graphic-printed shirts and pants for the visually eloquent, a bare grey dress for the woman who is simple and clear, a simple sweatshirt for the easy-going man, and a decorative floral-printed sheer dress for the punk girl. Every style was accounted for.
Backer's hand was light in his designs. His clothes did not shadow the personalities who donned them. Every look had its own disposition and temperament. It was as if he designed these 54 looks with 54 different people firmly embedded in his mind.
The notion of individuality is at the heart of a fashion designer's role — how does one design a collection which can be worn by men and women from all corners of the globe, pandering to different social etiquettes and codes? It was for this reason that the designer of designers, the late Monsieur Christian Dior penned in his autobiography, "In every country there are thin women and fat women, dark women and fair women, women of discreet taste, and others whose taste is more flamboyant... The world is wonderfully full of beautiful women whose shapes and tastes offer an inexhaustible diversity. My collection must cater individually for each one of them.”
Surely the conversation of inclusion and diversity could not be more apt in a divided society of today — also perhaps why the purveyors of cultural zeitgeists, the fashion designers like Backer, are looking back into bygone subcultures that encouraged solidarity.
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