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MFW Exclusive: Philipp Plein SS14 Show & Interview

Our intrepid fashion reporter Camille Adomakoh has been living it up at Milan Fashion Week and managed to get a bit of time post-show with MFW legend, Philipp Plein…

Of all the shows during Milan Fashion Week, this was the talk of the town! Initially because white rap sensation Iggy Azalea was to perform and later the discovery on the day of the show that Philipp would present an all-black female model cast led by Supermodel Liya Kibede. His timing could not have been better or more poignant, coinciding with the huge Balance Diversity campaign headed by Bethann Hardison, Iman and Naomi Campbell to get black models back on the catwalks…

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The excitement was at crescendo level and so were the huge crowds at the show. Even though Philipp Plein is not one of the big design houses of Milan, you’d never fathom it from his following and his designs. Once inside, the setting was like a giant mirrored emporium, heaving with fashion bodies. Iggy Azalea’s show warm up totally rocked the crowd, and she did it with great energy on the catwalk with dancers that weren’t a source of ridicule or props a la Miley Cyrus. She’s a wonderful addition to hip-hop culture and kicked off a great start to the evening.

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As Iggy left the stage, a wall of graphics appeared that read ‘I SAW GOD! OMG! SHE IS BLACK!’ I first thought I must be misreading it until it came up a few times and I realized I wasn’t seeing things! Then supermodel Liya Kibede walked out in all her splendour, followed by Alek Wek clad in truly stunning designs. The setting, the clothing, the environment had me, had everyone transfixed. It was pretty awesome. And when the Deng sisters came out I was like ‘this is major!’ These sisters have broken new barriers of what black beauty is with their uber black skin and near-shaven heads – their beauty is outstanding up close! Watching this show was pure enjoyment as he also used curvy girls. When one model came out in one of the couture pieces she had a booty that didn’t lie! Made me feel good to see, being a curvy woman in a skinny fashion world. This womenswear collection had some hip-hop, a lot of glamour and a fine sprinkling of couture and was a pleasure to see.

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Show over, and I head backstage for my interview with the man himself Philipp Plein but diverted when I saw one of the kings of fashion in the front row – Andre Leon Talley.  I had to speak to him, shake his hand and get the obligatory ‘stan’ picture. Feeling overwhelmed and intimidated by meeting ALT didn’t help the fact that I was about to meet Philipp Plein who had just made such a statement without saying a word, I knew this was a man of great character and intelligence before we even met. So no pressure then!

Once backstage I found the usual array of PR and security, and sadly no Iggy or supermodels in sight. After waiting a short time, Philipp approached and shook my hand with a smile. And I thought ‘thank god he’s human!’

Camille Adomakoh: What was your inspiration and mindset for this wonderful all black model SS14 show?
Philipp Plein: A few things first: I’m not a politician I am only a small designer – not a huge iconic brand. We are an upcoming brand who are very happy to make a statement. Tonight it was ‘I Saw God. OMG! She is black!’; the inspiration came from the press and all the rumblings about the (black model) issue. I’m not Coca-Cola in that I’m not everybody’s taste, therefore I can do what I want. I like to transport positive messages; fashion is a global product and business. And there shouldn’t be borders, not only in fashion: this should carry through to business life, private life and daily life. You can go to Hong Kong or Johannesburg and find the same labels, brands and eat the same food if you want. Everything is global. We have to remember we are living together.

CA: I totally agree…
PP: I grew up in Europe when things were different. Now we are the EU, with different people, different heritages. My younger sister has grown up not knowing of any real borders in Europe.

CA: This is what you’ve shown tonight – that there are no borders.
PP: Exactly. There are always naysayers but I do what I want to do and this is what I wanted.

CA: I love the collection and I’m not just saying that – I’m keeping it real here!
PP: Thankyou! I like to design clothes that people wear. My five couture pieces have a little irony – a cool and edgy feel. Because who can fucking spend €27,000 fucking euros on a dress?!

CA: Haha, exactly! And you used a curvy girl for a couture piece and she rocked it. I felt proud being one myself.
PP: The models were so proud and happy, such good energy backstage.
[at this point, his PR signalled that he had to wrap up - I could have spoken with him for ages! Such an interesting man…]
PP: People always ask me what the secret is to great fashion: Fashion gives you the chance to express yourself, the freedom. I say dress the way you feel comfortable. That’s the only secret – everything else is bullshit.

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As he walked away to talk to a Chinese TV crew, I thought ‘what a cool, unaffected, talented visionary’. He might not be as big as the main design houses in Milan, but you feel like he is and that he will be for sure; for all the right reasons.

- Camille Adomakoh | Karma-Style
@karma_style



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