ottolinger blends traditional swiss farmwear with an art-punk vibe
Christa Bösch and Cosima Gadient’s fifth collection was a hardcore vision of Switzerland.
Swiss farm life is not the obvious inspiration for deconstructed art-punk clothing made in Berlin. But Christa Bösch and Cosima Gadient were guilelessly drawn to their own roots for their spring/summer 18 collection as Ottolinger. The Swiss duo, who met at The Institute of Fashion Design in Basel and now live in Berlin, showed their truly exciting clothing in the underbelly of a boat in the middle of the Seine. It was meant to be shown up top, but the music didn't work and it was drizzling, anyway. Christa and Cosima seemed unfazed.
The audience clustered around clothing racks as seemingly makeup-less models walked the short length of the boat to menacing gothic music. If you squinted, it felt like nouveau-Margiela: unfinished edges, frayed going-out tops, pointy shoes, strange denim choices. But there was a deeper story told on a textile level. As with previous seasons, Christa and Cosima worked with knotting and draping, as well as burning holes with a blow torch. The fabrics included Swiss cheesecloth and an Edelweiss-printed muslin that is found at farmer's markets. "Switzerland has such a huge tradition with fabrics, really nice fabrics, and we wanted to work with them," said Christa, gesturing to Cosima's pale blue shirt from the collection.
Growing up on a farm, Christa's aesthetic was shaped by the harder side of workwear. She took the belts, denim, and canvas from her childhood and reworked them for clothing that would look most appropriate at, say, an underground party in Tokyo or London. Overalls became little crop tops, and jeans were reworked along the bias to flow with the body.
Some of the most technically impressive pieces used chains along with Goldvreneli fake coins, produced with the brand's logo. Cosima explained that the coins are given to Swiss kids when they're born, and on special occasions. The traditional trinket was reworked over bare breasts with khaki boot-cut pants and pink heels.
Those tight knee-length jeans and stilettos evoked the era of Britney and Christina. The girls giggled when I brought up the 2000s. "It plays with that," admitted Christa. "It's nice to see references." Especially when the clothing can transcend those references to deliver something that feels totally modern.