It probably goes without saying that I, sadly, have never hung out backstage during a famous rock band's arena tour, but going to meet designer Philipp Plein before his fall 2015 show in Milan is exactly what I'd imagine that would be like.
Waiting in a curtained-off room fashioned with plush couches, an antipasto spread so magnificent it could only be Italian, a big-screen TV and sexy mood lighting, Plein was pretty amped up about the event he'd planned. This didn't shock me, considering the man had a fully functioning roller coaster built in the center of the show space, and Azealia Banks waiting in the wings — actually, in another curtained-off area adjacent to his — for a surprise performance on the runway.
Despite his visible excitement, Plein's tagline for the season, "there will be no miracles here," was kind of a bummer. "Today we live in the world of Internet; what happens is that people stop dreaming, and that kills the miracle — this is very sad, but it's true," he hurriedly explained. "When we don’t know something, we Google it. In the past, when you didn’t know something, you’d make it up in your head. Your dreams get destroyed. You don’t imagine anymore, you Google. I’m trying the opposite — I’m trying to fuck your mind tonight, and take your mind on a trip."
Plein knows he isn't reinventing the wheel, here — this was apparent in his streetwear-inspired collection that heavily relied on the "athleisure" trend that's been ubiquitous for the better part of a year — but that's never been his goal. He's hoping to bring the fun back to the luxury market, especially during Fashion Month, when his audience has seen "the same shit every day" (referring to shows with the same models and core trends) over the last two weeks. "Fashion is about having fun; it's a multi-billion dollar business for many brands, of course, but on the other side, it's supposed to be fun," he said. "We’re not only selling clothes, we’re selling emotions and dreams. Nowadays, anyone can design something and sell it — you can only create an image. This is what we’re doing."
On giant LED signs and in neon lights around the stadium-like set, the designer's hashtag for the season, #PleinsWarriors, was on prominent display. When asked why he considers his girl a "warrior," he said it stemmed from his initial inspiration for fall, which was Africa. "I saw leopard prints and zebra prints, but I don’t want to look like Roberto Cavalli — I have to be me," he explained. "Then I saw all of these warrior tribes in Africa, how they do body painting in black and white. When I was looking for music, we saw Beyoncé’s video for "Run the World" — they were warriors under a bridge, in Brooklyn or something. Warriors today live in the streets, and this is also where you create the fashion, it’s born on the street."
Models walked the runway in looks I very well could envision them wearing on their off-duty days: Football jerseys, sports bras and jogging pants — though Plein's versions are made from mink or python — that they could pair with sneakers or flat booties. The designer calls it "luxury street style" with a touch of sexiness, designed for the woman of today. Despite the skyrocketing popularity of athletic wear, I'm not sure who's spending thousands of dollars on a sporty fur jersey, but the scale of Plein's spectacle on Wednesday night suggests he must have plenty of customers out there somewhere, right?
With the flashing lights, booming soundtrack of sing-along hits like "My Sharona" and "Blitzkreig Bop" and the aforementioned roller coaster — which models actually rode once their looks had come down the runway — it was nearly impossible to keep focused on the collection, but considering Plein's primary objective was to let the audience have a little fun, we don't think that's a bad thing. And as for Plein's goal of fucking our minds? Well, it worked.