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Alexandra Bondi de Antoni

Bernhard Willhelm's proteges show off

The students of Belgian fashion's clown prince graduate with collections as free as him

On Thursday, the fashion show of the University of Applied Arts took place in Vienna. Four years ago Berhard Willhelm took over as the head of the fashion department following names like Vivienne Westwood, Raf Simons and more recently Veronique Branquinho. This year Bernhard Willhelm and his class of around 50 students will present their collections, whereby an international jury of experts in the fields of fashion and art choose the best creations. Among others this year’s jury consists of Frances Corner, Professor and Head of London College of Fashion, Susanna Lau, Founder of Style Bubble, A magazine curated by founder Dan Thawley and designer Henrik Vibskov as well as A shaed view on fashion’s Diane Pernet. This is a preview of this year’s 8 graduates - Markus Binder & Emil Beindl, Anna Sophie Berger, Stella Achenbach, Liwen Lin, Zarah Brandl, Taro Ohmae and Martha Foremniak.

Dazed Digital: What’s your collection about?

MARKUS BINDER & EMIL BEINDL: ‘Demelrave’ is about Amanda, Kimberly, Michael. Outwardly, It’s bold and simple as well as belligerent. It causes to rock the awareness through the moments of intimacy. Martha, Marcy, Jessica and Kevin … what are those kids names now? Are they still here waiting and wanting? Will it be breakfast or drinks with a straw? Homesick eyes, techno is still not a lullaby.

STELLA ACHENBACH: Originally I started by recreating my own coming of age story and translating it into 4 mini collections within a full one. My collection ‘jam jars & next-door houses’ is about femininity and growing into a role you desire for yourself as a woman in todays society.

LIWEN LIN: My collection ‚Corbetti’s Kleider’ takes beetles as motive my thought on fashion, technology and future to make an impact. Corbetti is a beetle from Thailand, which belongs to the family of buprestidae. All outfits are looking like some different motions of Corbetti. The digitally modified patterns and contrast-y colours make these dresses. They reflect my aesthetic perception  in modern times.

ANNA SOPHIE BERGER: I would describe my collection ‚Fashion is fast’ as a formal analysis and illustration of trend, an exploration of form as a phenomenon of time. A certain shape and a distinct contrasting other shape for example convex and concave are juxtaposed with each other to show on the one hand the banality of mathematical change that at the same time has an immense formal as well as visual impact and is deciding over a garments being in or out of time, therefore in and out of fashion.

ZARAH BRANDL: Nothing like the smell of tits and popcorn in the morning is hyper-hyper magic. A prankster-ish combat and a freewheeling vortex of wild imagination.

TARO OHMAE: Commune, Hippie, Flower, Death. 

MARTHA FOREMNIAK: Minimal. Geometric. Transparent.

DD: What are your plans after graduation?

After the show we going to present our collection in the shop S/GHT, Vienna. We need a little time to organise it ourselves, a bit of time for family and friends and for sure time to tap the full potential of all opportunities like fashionfestivals, submissions and advancements.

STELLA ACHENBACH: I would like to gain more experience in the fields of couture and lingerie and take on a suitable internship. Also I would like to learn more about high-tech fibre fabrics after visiting Jakob Schlaepfer for some of the fabrics used in my Diploma Collection.

ROSHI PORKAR: Hopefully a good internship or a job soon. Either way I’m not planning to stay in Vienna much longer.

ANNA SOPHIE BERGER: I am working on a book like magazine with friends of mine called ohneohne. It’s my next big project after the collection. I am hoping to exhibit my collection in a complete new setting in autumn in London and I am working on various new artistic projects and exhibitions.

ZARAH BRANDL: Fashion as fuck.

TARO OHMAE: I will continue working on my label Bradaric Ohmae, which I started a while ago together with my partner Tanja Bradaric.

MARTHA FOREMNIAK: An Internship in Paris, London, NYC, … or even a smaller fashion-city. I think I’m ready to leave Vienna for a little while.

DD: You studied under Veronique Branquinho and Berhardt Willhelm, what changed and how did those two influence your work?

Veronique was always really busy with the mood and story during the design process.
Compared to Bernhard, who has no fear to get in touch with the clothes and loves to play with fabrics, volumes and shapes.
Soon we had learned that for guidance in our personal development and for the process of creating a collection you can't only rely on just one person. Luckily we were supported not only by Berhardt and Veronique but the whole team of the fashion department.

STELLA ACHENBACH: Veronique helped me to find my working flow, I still remember the time she got us “the working circle”, so that we would be more on time with our projects. Also she helped me developing my first collection at Angewandte, which let me discover my first aim in fashion: Feminine excellence. Bernhard on the other hand helped me to experience fashion. He always asked us to try things out on ourselves and was very supportive also on more experimental ideas! As for his influence on my work, I have to say, that he helped me to realize that I actually would like to work on undergarment or lingerie inspired fashion in the future.

ROSHI PORKAR: They were both great mentors to me. I can’t say if their styles influenced me much. I was quite young and stubborn when I started and I think Véronique Branquinho helped me mature a little - she was very tough.

LIWEN LIN: I feel lucky to study under Veronique Branquinho and Bernhard Willhelm. From Veronique you learn how to care for other people, from Bernhard you learn how to make yourself happy. For me they are both important.  It´s like a process, you have to try to know the people and yourself well and stay true.

ANNA SOPHIE BERGER: When I studied with Veronique I was very young and still quite inhibited. With Bernhard I learned to express what I wanted, to define my place and approach to fashion that is strongly linked and actually located within art. He helped me to stay with my concepts and execute them strictly to a point of satisfaction.

ZARAH BRANDL: Bernhard is a very passionate and energetic professor and he invests a lot of time to get the best out of every student. With him the atmosphere in the class became much friendlier, more open and less competitive.

TARO OHMAE: With Veronique I learned how to structure collections in very precise way and define what I like. With Bernhardt I learned to experiment and make more spontaneous decisions with discipline.

MARTHA FOREMNIAK: Veronique was more concept oriented, while Bernhard’s approach leaned towards spontaneity and intuitive decision making. I incorporate both methods in my design approach.

DD: How did your perception towards fashion change during your studies?

We love it and we hate it. 
And most of the time we are really busy with it. And this didn't and won't change.

STELLA ACHENBACH: During my studies I started realizing that fashion is not just something you wear, it is also supposed to support and even protect you. For me fashion now could also be called armor and it starts with what you wear underneath the obvious. 

ROSHI PORKAR: I took a year off in between studies and moved to New York where I assisted a stylist. It completely changed my approach towards creating a collection. Designing to me has become more of an editing process. You take the things you like and try to put them into a new context.

ANNA SOPHIE BERGER: My perception towards fashion was created only through my studies. what I know right now is that there are many aspects of fashion industry that I strongly oppose if not despise. I consider myself a visual artist and I am not interested in following a system that will not give me the liberty to define my own time frames. If I work on a collection, like with any other media, I want to work with this collection as long as I find it necessary. That is why often I end up showing and positioning my work in an art context, as I see a bigger chance to engage my audience in a reflection of my concepts and ideas that i find immensely important for my work.

ZARAH BRANDL: It got more defined and I learned that its greatest power for me is the ability to modify and distort established orders.

TARO OHMAE: It made me understand that with fashion you play one of the most creative games, but with very strict rules.

MARTHA FOREMNIAK: It’s always great to follow your own vision but never forget to communicate with the end consumer.

Text and Photography by Alexandra Bondi de Antoni
Styling Isabelle von Spreckelsen
Hair & Make Up Patrick Glatthaar
Models Kirsten / Wiener Models & Flora