Shapes and volumes are the subjects of Melitta Baumeister’s work, and they morph and shift in response to seasonal themes. The fall collection was a sometimes humorous meditation on “extreme nature.” The designer arrived at the theme via her partner, a long distant cyclist who participated in the grueling Tour Divide, which traverses the Rocky Mountains. As the athletes ride along the continental divide the varying types of terrain create “all kinds of natural challenges… and one of them is bears and others animals that you need to watch out for,” said Baumeister. This hazard inspired Baumeister’s fuzzy “teddy” looks, as well as smaller creature comforts in the form of furry footwear and carry bears that convert into tote bags. There were also cycling-style leggings featuring sternum rings (adding a bit of “kink” the designer said), but otherwise the rest of the collection was a more abstract take on a theme that took the brand in some new directions.
The most notable addition to Baumeister’s repertoire was her take on technical outerwear. Black nylon separates with exaggerated dimensional pockets came in shapes that ranged from big to bigger (see look 57 for the latter). These added an element of unexpected functionality to a collection that was ironic; nature seen through the lens of a city dweller. “We almost have more ply wood around us than trees in New York or in big cities,” noted the designer. Plywood inspired a print, wood-patterned fabrics (not moiré), and quilted pieces. (These included a heart with the designer’s initials as you might see carved into a tree). Actual plywood was used to create the shape of the third look.
Baumeister also continued her love affair with circle shapes, using foam to create ring shapes. The patchworked plissé pieces created a sort of texture within texture and were engineered with great care. The precise shaping and thinness of Baumeister’s “flat” dresses and separates made them cousins, it seemed, of the paper dresses that will soon be exhibited at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York.
The collection’s piece de resistance was a blow-up windbreaker in silver metallic that resembled heat blankets or aluminum foil. (The designer likes to incorporate everyday objects, “like things that are around that you” into her work.) In contrast to the deliberate artificiality of the first look were some oversized hand knit angora cardigans, as well as hand-painted denim, which achieved an almost X-ray like quality. These complemented prints made using blank silk-screens. If the knits added a homely sense of hand to the collection, the denim allowed Baumeister to engage with craft. Because of how they are made these pieces will be unique, and so is the designer’s “big picture” take on fashion overall.