Dystopia now, with surveillance-style aerial shots of abandoned industrial sites and car crash scenes blown up on bike short unitards. A whistle alarm sounded as models made their way down the ramps of a Copenhagen car park in genderless doomsday preppers chic: sheer hi-tech nylon drawstring coats, oversize sportswear-fuelled T-shirts with neon yellow performancewear zips and silver dresses referencing rescue blankets were layered in what seemed in parts like vaguely Middle Eastern silhouettes. Then the lights went out, cars were abandoned on the runway, ceiling water pipes burst and the space filled with smoke.
“It was important for me to show a sense of tension in the show,” Barrech noted backstage. “I wanted to show a slowed breakdown and that things are getting more and more out of control and chaotic.” The largely blond, tanned cast were made up as almost plasticised dolls and at one point appeared in rainwear with SOS written across the back and on sleeves. From a distance, you couldn’t see the 'O', which added to the grim, ominous atmosphere. “I was playing with this image of the Aryan and the superior race and that we’re all super clean and aesthetical but we’re also super critical, in that although we’ve never been this educated, we’ve also never been so judgmental of each other,” the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp graduate explained, adding that the collection served to underscore a “notion of uniformity.”
Ring the alarm:
“If you think about our world nowadays and our history and how it’s repeating itself in the most obvious and horrible manner, it is something to really take seriously,” Barrech said of his collection’s SOS call, and its references to rescue and survival wear as a way to prepare for darker days ahead. “I know this sounds very dramatic, but I find fashion a place where we need to talk about these things because fashion is a global language. We all speak it more and more. Less and less people read the news; less and less people are taking alarming news seriously. We need to start talking about these things and not just see them through a video screen. That’s something I want to do in my way.”
The soundtrack to Wali Mohammed Barrech SS15: