Beckmans '23: Out of the Bird's Nest
So here’s the ”skinny” (pun intended) on the Beckmans grad ‘23 fashion runway. I really like Beckmans as a design school (I’ve been guest teaching/tutoring at another discipline at said school: FORM) and I actively make a point since a few years of keeping track of what emerges in fashion from there; not necessarily to “cover it” at all times but for inspiration in my work as a curator in art and to spot possible overlaps. I have yet to curate that exhibition where fashion gets her due but continously toy with the idea. Can remember seeing breakout fashion designer Jade Cropper in an early runway in connection to the fashion program’s annual "Material" course which is where experiments traversing closer towards the realm of textile art tend to happen, and intuitively going; she’ll go far. Clearly my references are not always going to be precisely “on the money”; I’m in contemporary art after all, but if I see an allusion to Castelbajac coming down a runway; I’ll connect in a split second and as such my bank of references from a past and former self are probably more calibrated than some posturig influencers who might be deemed pundits. The runway show is an annual highlight; I feel very energized by it but this time felt a bit subdued in many ways. It didn’t really quite “pop” which comes primarily down to production (casting, music etc.) but also some of the collections that didn’t succeed in making an arresting impression in the brief, but normally adequate scope, of a few minutes. Some looks are amazing of course, some tailoring too. It wouldn’t be Beckmans if there was not a fair share of awe-inspiring moments, but this year it felt as though they were fewer and weren’t quite on par in numbers with the most recent years. My mind screamed out; Zendaya (!) in “Malcolm & Marie” at one point and thought sprung to martial arts films in the intersection of Ang Lee and Wong Kar Wai and I was replacing a model of Isabelle Sjöman's set with Michelle Yeoh. And that’s that swell and always a signifier of the show living a bit beyond itself when you’re making efforts dressing the designs on “real” people outside the room, based on an image of them in your mind.
There was a light jolt midway through the show when one of the models dropped to the floor, Naomi at Vivienne Westwood ’93-style and gracefully got herself back up again with a demure smile. Messing with you, that’s an old reference for falling on the runway; the zeitgeist today is models falling and angrily throwing away their shoes in rebellion against the entrapment of poorly considered shoe fittings. Maybe this show could have benefitted from such stint, or stunt?
The actual theatrical stunt that did happen was hilariously good and perfectly executed and served a spoof on fashion. Julia Weström sent down her only male model as a Halston type figure lining up the girls on a row pulling down these linen-appearing dressing coats from their shoulders, from a Handmaid’s Tale disposition to contemporary day. The look on the male model; a sleek black pyjama-type ensemble with a golden ribbon loosely hanging as a necktie, paired with wellington/riding boots was also something to water the eye with.
One of the few menswear designers in the exhibition was impressive but could also see which past alumni from the recent three years (Erik Olsson) they were possibly very unintentionally referencing.
In terms of visual alignments with our local art realm, at one point thought of artist Sara-Vide Ericson and another of Ingela Ihrman (who just opened the summer solo at the Carl Eldh Studio Museum so perhaps having her active in mind helped that instant whiff). Emily Gullbo bringing various volumes of bird feather into her designs, from initially mere vertical shoulder stick decorations to gradually blowing into a full fan of feathers, peacock tail-style over the shoulder, with a full feather skirt, completing the birdwoman transformation, was both beautiful and genuinely felt bold to me. Clearly was the one who went the most on a lim. That’s where Sara-Vide Ericson’s colour palettes and motifs started coming into view. Isn’t this something she’d wear today in one of her paintings camouflaging with the woods in Värmland or wherever? If you saw it, you might have thought it too. Either way, thoroughly was mesmerized by some of her looks.
Johanna Stannow’s collection “Shit hits the fan” was just that; “the shit” in that very good sense of it and once it was out, it was all over the place (still in a great way). Down comes two models conjoined siametically by the mutual carry of the straps of a large-size bag between them. From there follows a few seamless mergers of sleeves and bags as accessory in an effortless and nifty playful way that mostly goes unparalleled in the show, and a fine balance to some of the more blatantly canonical, dare I say it, Galliano moments?
But sportswear is really what elevated everything this one time. Tim Maksimovic was referencing “Americana” with exciting plays on the sports field; intersecting in one look alone both athlete and supporter, with a merger of marching band attires and the quintessential American fixture of the baseball jacket. He was definitely sending Castelbajac down the runway. The showstopper of the entire show was a look of a hybrid of baseball cap and balaclava covering the face of a model with the holes around the face transforming the look towards lucha libre (Team C-print is all for lucha libre; ref: our latest magazine issue cover). On the body of the model a flowy windbreaker suit. When they inevitably reboot the 90's now cult film "Mask" starring Jim Carry, and are looking for the fashion in the film to follow suite, this guy far out here up in the Nordics should be a contender to wrangle the task. Excellent stuff!
P.S Apologies for the poorer quality of images. Grad show season; "shit" needs to hit the fan fast.