Golden Glows: Finding Art In Fashion

I think fashion lost the art. It used to be so much more attached to art. But now…Zara… It’s all like ready-to-sell.

So said Fashion Week visitor Juliana Muñoz, as we hovered around the after-party for the Berlin Fashion Film Festival Award Show – an Oscars-like awards ceremony for fashion movies that took place this Thursday, as an off-event during Berlin’s official Fashion Week. The show handed out prizes to fashion films, including ads and concept videos released by fashion brands, in categories like Best Production Design, Best Editing and Best Fashion. The evening closed with a catwalk show featuring the high-concept designs of Charlie Le Mindu, the fashion designer to stars like Lady Gaga.

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Though enthusiasm for the art in the fashion industry was low, excitement for Le Mindu’s highly-conceptual work ran high. “Charlie’s work is supernatural. It comes from a deep reservoir of pain and humor. So it’s art,” said one observer, who would only be identified as Ghost.

A Catwalk Through Art History

With one eye trained on a fashion innovator, we take a look at his collection. Plumbing the depths of art history, BAPs asks: Where’s the art in Le Mindu’s fashion?

Happy gilded model, sad gilded Beuys. Photo: C. Phillips

This atomic bomb-y little number calls to mind a number of works, but first and foremost is Joseph Beuys’ "How To Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare," a performance piece where the artist painted his head in gold leaf and explained a series of pictures to a dead bunny. The only question now is: If this model is Beuys, who’s the bunny?

Hidden model evokes Max Ernst nightmare-painting. Photo: C. Phillips

This hidden-faced presumable-beauty conjures images of Max Ernst’s "The Robing of the Bride," which itself harkens back to the mythological story of “Leda and the Swan.” Creepy, entrancing, and somehow about the fact that you can never quite know anyone no matter how hard you try. Congratulations, Le Mindu, this will figure in my sex nightmares for years to come.

What is this, some kind of butt plug convention? Photo: C. Phillips

OK, not to get all Freudian here but: there’s no doubt that this looks distinctly like a… like a butt plug. Right? Paul McCarthy’s “Santa With Butt Plug” was shown at Art Basel in 2007, and was then recreated in miniature figurine versions distributed across the world. And it only took 6 years for the plug to show up, painted gold and sitting on someone’s head in Berlin!

Civilizations come and go, the mohawk never dies. Photo: C. Phillips

One part futuristic, another part trip-back-in-time-to-Sparta. We dig this hat for both its innovative and classical qualities. Still, we probably wouldn’t wish it on any but our very coolest friends, as it’s not really something your run-of-the-mill slug could pull off.

Model Ovo evokes Picasso. Photo: C. Phillips.

When we caught up with the model Ovo after the show, she was straightforward with her assessment: "I think that of all the models, my outfit was the best… I looked a bit like Bambi." Well, that. But also a bit like Picasso's sleek, minimal "Bull's Head." A stylish finish for the whole collection.

Well, Fashion, you've shown your face. Under all the layers of frivolity and commercialism, there's something art historical to you after all. BAPs will be back for more in the future.

Article by Christopher Shea