Nothing says couture more than an oversize bow, and there was more than one of them—as well as stoles and streamers—in GmbH’s fall collection, which might be described as a study in atonal glamour. The lookbook pictures are a world away from the smoky, dark setting of the performance Alexander Huseby and Serhat Isik staged in Paris with the help of friends from their hometown of Berlin. Dancers from its city ballet performed to the live music of Labour, using gestures to convey elegance through different lenses. Their glitch-like movements referenced both the hauteur of ’50s couture and its reclamation by marginal communities in the ballroom (vogueing) and drag cultures.
This was not, the designers stressed in a pre-show interview, intended to be an overtly political show. Like many others this season, they wanted to really focus on clothes, delighting in shape and volume. At GmbH changing the focus from personal history and trauma to fashion history was, noted Huseby, “a way of finding freedom with fashion for us.” Added Isik: “I also think we are really interested in challenging ourselves with taking on full-on glamour because it’s not something that we’re necessarily associated with, or even so comfortable with.” No jitters were revealed in this confident collection, which the designers said included references to Yves Saint Laurent and Azzedine Alaïa. Many signature silhouettes were back, such as the short coat dress, but it was transformed—and transformable—with streamers that could be tied tight to bound the corset or fly free, with a train-like sweep. The off-the-shoulder bow tops in velvet or with big bows were especially unexpected takes on menswear.
Huseby and Isik have been recontextualizing womenswear tropes in menswear since the beginning, but it hit different within the “couture” framework of this collection; it’s a process that doesn’t have the same impact when implemented in reverse (men’s to women’s) Huseby noted, and you could see that, even in this, GmbH’s largest women’s offering to date. The pair’s favored body-con looks were back, but what was more interesting was the pairing of a bow top with trousers that had a jogger kind of ease, as well as a patchworked jacket shown with an A-line skirt. This silhouette allowed the fabric to move around and with the body rather than act as a second skin, and that was a welcome change. Moreover it was related to the theme; glamour is something that can be taken on or adopted at will. As Madonna said: “Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it.”