in love and war with designer melitta baumeister and photographer paul jung

She’s his yin, he’s her yang but their union is far from Zen. Melitta baumeister is the gnarly German redefining all the fashion rules and turning them black and white. Paul Jung is the photographer who isn’t interested in photography; instead he’s all...

by i-D Team
13 January 2015, 1:50am

Photography Paul Jung

How did you two find each other?
Paul Jung: At her graduation exhibition, I was completely stopped in my tracks. I just knew that whoever was responsible for this, understands. Even when we disagree with each other, we know deep down, that the other person is actually right. I often fight for the sake of entertainment, and not because I disagree.

There has been a saturation of 'art' influence on the runway but your collaboration seems to be the antithesis to this, instead of art transcending into fashion you both are transcending fashion into art.
Paul: This is a particularly important distinction which must be made, between those who are 'inspired' and those who 'perspire' constantly. Of course, in a way, nothing is new, we can acknowledge that. However, today, with the ease and the amount of content that is presented to us every second, it is important to distinguish between recycling and creation. The work which we do is a result of daily work, which isn't very different from a farmer, or construction worker, in the sense it's about constantly solving problems and building on the ideas and thoughts from yesterday.

Talk us through the SS 15 collection…
Melitta: The collection is a play with light and shadow, glossy and matte, movement, shape and time.

How do you two work best with each other?
Paul: What we found works best is similar to that of the collaboration between Issey Miyake and Irving Penn, where Mr Miyake would send Mr Penn the new collection, and it would be photographed. There wasn't much of a 'brief', there weren't useless factors that would hinder the creative process of either party. They both simply trusted each other to know what would work best through intuition and respect for each other's visions.

Who are your heroes in the creative industry?
Paul: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Andy Warhol, Werner Herzog, Klaus Kinski, Michael Haneke, Dalí.

Melitta: Those who have a strong voice, who dare, who have their eyes open, who question.

What would you say is an obsession of yours?
Melitta: I'm afraid of the word and the idea of obsession, especially that it is used very much at the moment. I'm quite curious about transformations in a macro scale.

Paul: Floatation tanks, and a new uniform.

What do you surround yourself with?
Melitta: Plain surfaces, I surround myself with nothingness. The less the better: room to think, space to create. I think everyone should have an empty space to go to, to be able to leave your belongings behind and to have sort of a white page to clear your mind.

Paul: The house is in constant disarray from the work that is happening, though fortunately it's all monochromatic chaos.

If your SS 15 collection was a sound what would it be?
Melitta: Paperthin by Frank Bretschneider, sounds that describe more a space rather than being an emotion.

In-between art, what do you nourish yourself with?
Melitta: Anything that my mum cooks, and the Japanese kitchen. The arrangement and orchestration of a meal in Japan is a visual treat.

Paul: Japanese jelly and desserts.

What is your favourite part about working with each other?
Melitta: We remind each other to stay true to what our vision is, it is easy to get influenced by reactions that people have, or what others think is right or wrong to do. Though nobody can actually know what the right or wrong way is and you can hardly force yourself to do something that you don't trust yourself in. Paul makes sure that I can stand fully behind my work and the other way around.

Paul: The ability to scream at each other, and be totally ok with it and to know that we're honest, without having to worry about feelings so much. To know that there is a good level of trust in each other saves a lot of time.

As artists what is something you do that heightens your creativity?
Melitta: Meditating, cleaning and having your tools ready.

Paul: Sleeping, meditating, working out on the gymnastic rings.

What did you dream last night?
Melitta: A woman I spoke to was wearing a wig, which fell off, though underneath she had the exact same hair as the wig anyways.

Paul: Falling out of the plane with no parachute, landing in a blue lagoon, full of inflatable airplanes without wings.

Melitta, describe the feeling you get when you see someone wearing your designs?
It feels like a multiplication and mutation of one's attitude.

Paul, how did growing up in Australia influence your art?
The silence and emptiness of Australia is still a big part in me.

Melitta, what's your impression of Australia?
It's a land of the new, with almost no real stereotypes in the social consciousness. I think it's a very exciting time to be defining what is Australian in the world, without the weight of the past on their shoulders.

Both your mediums express great restraint - rather than the choices you have said yes to, what have you said no to that has significantly defined your work?
Melitta: I say no by default. Then it's a continuous argument back and forth until we reach a maybe.

Paul: I like yes - even if it's a no. In general though I say no to referencing and nostalgia. 


Text Olivia Drake
Photography Paul Jung
Model Lydia Hunt
Make-up Misha Shahzada
Hair Jeanie Syfu