Pin It
Philipp Plein AW16
Philipp Plein AW16Photography Martina Ferrara

Why Philipp Plein put on a superhero spectacle

Backstage the designer explained the reason behind the Superman insignia bling and Batman sweatshirts

When you’ve been to a few Philipp Plein shows – giant, theatrical, louder-harder-faster-stronger statements that go down in a blaze of pyrotechnics sprinkled with things like monster trucks, BMX stunts and rappers on jet skis in a swimming pool – and you get backstage pre-show last night and spot Lucky Blue Smith in a slick suit embellished with Superman insignia bling and boys in Batman sweatshirts, you know you’re in for a superhero spectacle. 

Plein is a designer who’s all about letting the good times roll, and he’s not afraid to admit that. So what you’re kind of not expecting is for him to open the interview by saying he’s been thinking about superheroes this season for political reasons. “We live in a world where terrorists and terrorism are really affecting our daily lives. What happened in the last few months was terrifying and people are hoping that there’s someone coming who will rescue us.” 

“What happened in the last few months was terrifying and people are hoping that there’s someone coming who will rescue us” – Philipp Plein

The Swarovski was dialled down and in its place was a more tailoring-led, nearly all-black, serious direction. “Because the market and our customer are growing up and I’m growing up. I’m 37 now and I can’t walk around anymore like I’m 25,” Plein said. The billionaire superhero, with his fast cars, big houses and beautiful women, was also a no-brainer for Plein in terms of his customer and what he aspires to, he explained. 

His superhero gang came out carrying crocodile skateboards with light-up wheels after an opening act of a conductor surrounded by green laser beams and an orchestra playing Wagner alongside Lil Wayne. The latter left after a brief performance, mumbling something about being annoyed at the fact that the audience didn’t throw their hands in the air when he got on. It didn’t reflect badly on Plein – rather on Lil Wayne. Wayne may have thought we needed a lesson in show etiquette, but it felt more like he did. 

And Plein is doing plenty fine regardless. He came out of nowhere, overtaking major fashion houses at breakneck speed with dizzying revenue numbers. A self-made former furniture designer who branched into travel bags and then clothes, he’s tapped into a moment in fashion where the elitist is giving way to the popular, reflected by the heaving crowds outside hoping to get into the after party. “We are a new generation in this industry. You have the brands that have been around for fifty or a hundred years – traditional, big, difficult fashion houses – and I think every generation has to have its own style and voice. I don’t want to talk like my father.” So what would Plein’s superhero power be? “I would fly. I want to fly.”