king of the jungle: philipp plein shows resort 18 in cannes
On Wednesday evening in Cannes, Philipp Plein opened the doors to his private mansion for his first-ever resort show.
This article was originally published by i-D UK.
Say what you want about fashion's anti-establishment rich kid Philipp Plein, but what you see is what you get. Ever since the Munich-born designer emerged in 2008 and started building his massive mega-branded empire, which now boasts over one hundred of his own stores, the fire canon, and monster trucks of his ready-to-wear shows have left some wondering what hides behind the facade. On Wednesday evening they got closer to the answer, as Plein opened the hillside gates to his sprawling mansion in Cannes for his cruise 18 show, his first of its kind. An imposing red gorilla statue met you in the driveway where Plein keeps his Rolls-Royces and Bentleys, and he'd filled up a fountain with champagne bottles (or 'champlein' as Monsieur calls it) for the occasion.
Like so many of the people who flock to the Riviera city this week to feel part of the glitzy circus surrounding the Cannes Film Festival, Plein has made it his aspirational home, with all the flashy nightclubs, super yachts, and Uber helicopters this high life has to offer. "Opening up my home to people is a new experience," he said. "When you go to someone's home, that's when you find out everything." He calls the neo-classical modern fusion house La Jungle du Roi — the King's Jungle — and you never felt Plein's cheeky rapper-style megalomania more than here, as he welcomed guests by his courtyard fountain before celebrities like Sofia Ritchie, Winnie Harlow, Jeremy Meeks, Jordan Barrett, and -- pricelessly -- Paris Hilton and her actor boyfriend Chris Zylka strutted their stuff in the garden, Eva Longoria watching from a patio chair in a busty black ballgown.
Paradoxically, he insisted this is where he comes to relax. (His company is split between Milan and Lugano while Plein owns homes in Manhattan and Bel-Air.) "My home is an oasis of calm and I didn't feel any pressure creating this collection. I only felt joy," he said, with the showbizzy American sensibility he grew up on reading teenage magazines as a kid in Germany, longing for the American dream. Nothing could be more Euro than Cannes, and Plein owns that as much as he does his infatuation for American bling. (Scott Disick made a late appearance.) His world is a nouveau riche paradise of materialism and hedonism, but because no one tries to hide that or make excuses for it, you can't help but enjoy yourself. If anything, that's Plein's message to the world: be #trill about it. "What guests are experiencing here is the real world of Philipp Plein. It's pure Pleinland," he asserted.
How does one dress for a summer evening in the Cannes corner of Pleinland, then? Carine Roitfeld styled the show, which added heavy floral and diamonté embellishment to Plein's graphic urban go-to place. Dresses in 50s silhouettes paid homage to the silver screen church that is Cannes, while thigh-high snakeskin boots nodded at the kind of tourists who now rule the Croisette. It was a denim-heavy outing for Plein, who delved into the light blue delights with added street smarts courtesy of slight hints of punk in biker jackets and the heavy insignia he can't get enough of. More than anything, though, Plein's aesthetic is rooted in a Euro take on American ghetto luxury. Watching it all unfold here in Cannes, you couldn't help but think of J-Lo on that yacht with Ben Affleck in the "Jenny From the Block" music video. Before Pleinland came to be, it was brewing in those early late 90s and early 00s masterpieces. Back then we all wanted to be J-Lo, but, unlike Plein, few had the guts to admit it.
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography courtesy Philipp Plein