Bernhard Willhelm Womenswear A/W10

Willhelm was fixated by lube and turning Japanese this season.

Fashion Show
Photography by Benoit Soualle

It was a scrum to get into the Bernhard Willhelm presentation held at the Palais de Bourse but once in, we were faced with a pleasing cacophony of a presentation that asserted what we love about Bernhard Willhelm. From last season's experimentation with Japanese fabrications and techniques, Willhelm took his theme one step further by interpreting his vision of Japan through the collection. This wasn't a cultural homage but a mix up where the whole point is to be in lost in translation. Kimono fabrics, shapes and Japanese calligraphy were in the mix but thrown in with Willhelm's way of cutting and other pop culture references. We didn't know what to make of the models fanning, pouring slime from a watering can, lifing weights made out of protein shake mixes and stabbing the wall in mock-anger but we're perfectly ok not delving too deep into analysis of Willhelm's imaginings.

Dazed Digital: What made you decide to do a presentation this season?
Bernhard Willhelm: This time, it was about my friends. This installation is done by Christophe Hamaide. he's part of an artist group called Assume Vivid Astro Focus.
I wanted to have a bit of interaction between objects, models and some slime. I call it lube. The theme of the show is trans, a kind of twilight. When you put over lube over something, the object changes as the lube is dripping down and I think it can be quite beautiful. You could see it as a sexual thing, a more disgusting thing but it can be quite beautiful. The clothes we do -  we always take things that are considered ugly and then try and make it into something beautiful.

DD: The collection of course wasn't about lube, so what were you exploring?
Bernhard Willhelm: I wanted to do something based on kimono fabrics, kimono cuts and Japanese calligraphy and we used many Japanese girls. I think our biggest fanclub is in Japan. For me, Japan is the most exotic place because I don't understand a word. This is for me very exotic - something I don't know.
It goes back vice versa. Like the 60s never looked so good as it did in Japan. They got all these rockabilly looks and when it went to Japan, they probably found it very exotic. They probably didn't know a thing about rock n'roll culture but they took it and made it their own so that's what I'm trying to do with Japanese culture.
There was a lot of kimono shapes we used, but cut in my way of cutting. For the fabrics, some of it is Japanese silks or cottons. We used tie dye. So I tried to adapt Japanese culture and techniques into the collection and make it into something absurd and ridiculous.

DD: What's the significance of what the models are doing in the presentation?
Bernhard Willhelm: I wanted this interaction between these surreal objects and models. I'll leave it open to people how they want to interpret it. It's good to give models something to do rather than having them walk up and down a catwalk.

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