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Garland Coo

German duo Garland Coo create fashion collections and develop art projects inspired by the dark atmospheres of the Black Forest.

Located in Germany’s south-west, the Black Forest was considered by the Romans as a gloomy and impenetrable place. As the centuries passed, the area preserved its beauty and mystery, but also turned into a popular tourist attraction with a stereotyped iconography made of cuckoo clocks and traditional costumes such as the “Schwarzwaldmädel”. Creative duo Garland Coo, comprising fashion designer Jasmin Isabel Eckerle and artist Marcel Singer, have tried to subvert the stereotypes linked with the Black Forest using the local traditions to develop fashion collections, art projects and avant-garde films. Moving from the dark atmospheres of the Black Forest and employing an almost monochromatic palette and shiny and matte fabrics, they created collections based on sharp minimalist tailoring, asymmetric shapes, slim cut silhouettes and bondage motifs. Elements of the natural landscape and of the traditional costume like the “Wollbollen”, the pompoms decorating the local straw hat or “Bollenhut”, are transformed into decorative elements that give a sort of tribal edge to the duo’s designs, turning the innocent-looking Black Forest maids into fearless amazons gifted with supernatural powers.

Dazed Digital: Where does the label’s name come from?
Jasmin Isabel Eckerle: That’s an interesting story: at a late hour I’ve often written like André Breton in a surrealistic way through the medium of écriture automatique and that’s how I found the words Garland and Coo, or maybe that’s how the two words found us!

DD: Can you tell us more about your latest collection?
Jasmin Isabel Eckerle: We started with a small collection of twenty pieces to which we constantly add further garments. Manufacturing plays an essential role in our work: we use hand-dyed silks, hand-printed fabrics and handmade accessories. Our main fabrics are silks, cotton-satins, velvet and leather. Among the decorative elements we use in our collections there are ribbons, pleated and folded motifs and Black Forest pompoms. Thanks to their cuts, the shapes and the fabrics employed give an illusion they somehow float on the body, like a cold winter night over the treetops of the Black Forest, while smooth velvet and silk call to mind the soft forest floor.

DD: Garland Coo have so far developed art, film and fashion projects: did you study art or fashion design and do you conceive the latter as just one aspect of Garland Coo’s universe?
Jasmin Isabel Eckerle: I studied fashion design in Stuttgart. There were never any alternatives for me since I’ve always felt I wanted to express myself in fashion. I am determined to create, that’s my passion. Marcel comes instead from a visual art background, but he also focused on history of art and cultural studies, and studied in Stuttgart, Tübingen and Hagen.
Marcel Singer: Fashion is per se something very superficial, since, after all, a garment is just a garment, even when you can find in it a deeper meaning. Garland Coo is a sort of profound over-encompassing concept, and, yes, I would say that fashion is just one side of it.

DD: What inspires you and influences your work?
Jasmin Isabel Eckerle: The clash between nature, our native landscape and civilisation and the juxtaposition between the trash culture from the 50s and 60s in this area and the overwhelming power of nature inspire us. The Black Forest is the essence of our cultural heritage and the main inspiration for our work, but it represents for us something that goes behind the most stereotyped images of cuckoo clocks and traditional “Schwarzwaldmädel” costumes. What inspires me personally is also that inner conflict between perfectionism and a strong will to design and the Dionysian source of creativity.
Marcel Singer: I guess the creative collaboration between Jasmin and I is the fundamental influence: we depend on each other through our artistic impulses. Working together is the basis and the essence of Garland Coo. Together we develop our strategies and directions but we also inspire and influence each other.

DD: Who are your favourite designers?
Jasmin Isabel Eckerle: There are many interesting contemporary designers around that I really like from Rick Owens to Rodarte and the late Alexander McQueen. Yet I also adore the old creators who brought a unique universe to life, from Paul Poiret to Elsa Schiaparelli and Christian Dior.

DD: What are you working on at present?
Jasmin Isabel Eckerle: At the moment we are working on creating a menswear collection and extending our line of accessories. We are also developing further projects focusing on art and film.
Marcel Singer: We are planning for example an exhibition in Berlin about cultural heritage and the Black Forest as a source of inspiration for art, photography and fashion. One day we would like to take this exhibition to further fashion events in Europe as well. Much is planned at the moment and we are sure something interesting will happen. In the meantime, you will be able to check out our collections at the beginning of Berlin Fashion Week at the Berlin-based boutique Butterflysoulfire.

Photographs: Marcel Singer, Achim Dickgiesser
Styling: Jasmin Isabel Eckerle
Hair and Make-up: Achim Dickgiesser
Models: Johanna, Alessandra

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