The Swiss born-and-based designer collaborates with drama collective (LA)HORDE and music makers Herse in a celebration of family and treasured memories.
For his autumn/winter 16 collection Larger Than Life, Julian Zigerli offers an intimate insight into the designer's life. Inspired by nostalgia for early family memories from his childhood in the late 80s and early 90s, it's a hazy mix of long-outgrown clothes, family photographs and favourite cartoon characters. These memories were brought to life by dramatics group (LA)HORDE and performed live at the aptly named The Family space in collaboration with Mode Suisse. Far from a blink-and-you'll-miss-it catwalk experience, they collaborated on a three hour long performance that invited the audience deep inside their world. With a soundtrack specially designed by the duo Herse, this exclusive video reduces the experience into a hypnotic five minutes and fifty five seconds.
What brought you all together? What was the catalyst for this collaboration?
Julian: I basically stumbled across some of (LA)HORDE's work on the internet. It was a huge crowd dancing jumpstyle in a dark room. I instinctively loved the intensity and freshness of the performance. It gave me goosebumps. Since we are living in a tiny world it turned out we both had friends in common and I got hooked with the idea of working together with (LA)HORDE for what manifested into our Larger Than Life performance in Paris.
(LA)HORDE: We knew Julian's work through his collaboration with Golgotha and loved what he did with Katarina Grosse. We were very touched to be approached by a such talented designer to stage his show. And his past collections and collaborations made us feel very comfortable working for the first time on a fashion project.
How important was it to break beyond the confines of the normal blink-and-you'll-miss-it catwalk show that we're all accustomed to?
Julian: I like to break boundaries with my work and try to explore what's beyond the usual. It's not the first time I've made a different kind of presentation - we once performed a theatre play in Berlin for example. But having such an inspiring collective like (LA)HORDE on board really helped to translate the essence of the collection in a moving way.
(LA)HORDE: Whatever the project, we try to tell a story or create a situation. The fashion show becomes very interesting to play with the traditional expectations to bring a new experience.
How did the chosen show formant evolve? What were its early influences and inspirations?
Julian: It was very much a meeting of ideas from both sides. The initial inspiration was to work with the theme of the collection; family, love, life, and a nostalgia of my childhood.
(LA)HORDE: Julian's theme was very inspiring for us and we wanted to create a weird, meal time, scenario with different family members, who would gradually walk, then dance on the table. He was very open to that and even let us work with dancers instead of models, and women in a menswear show. We had acrobatic performers, ballet dancers, break-dancers.
From the dancers to the set design, could you talk us through how the elements came together for the experience?
(LA)HORDE: We develop our practice through staging, filmmaking, video installation, choreography, and performance. When we are offered an open brief like this, with an inspiring theme, it's difficult to resist using all our skills at once. We wanted the main idea of the family reunion to not feel too obvious, we tried to have a very minimal setting for the dinner table. That's when we thought it had to last several hours… like a real long family dinner. Then we decided to put the audience in a voyeuristic ambiance by creating a film set, so the audience could see the clothes, assist with the performance but also watch us work on creating the video, everyone, even Julian was working on sight and visible the whole time.
What do each of you think is the future of the fashion show?
Julian: I love the traditional catwalk show format as long as there is a soul to it - but for me it's less about only showing the clothes and more about the world they are living in. I believe that it is important to grasp the industry for what it really is. Money is always a big issue that no one really talks about, if you're a young brands it's not always easy to create a presentation, but a low budget can be fuel for creativity. It's a lot harder working without lots of money, but I think the realness of my presentations are worth it - there is nothing pretentious about them, everyone is treated equally and I believe in the future this becomes more important than spending lots of money; creativity should come first.
Text Steve Salter
Photography Manon Wertenbroek