Marcel is not alone in leading the charge towards a brighter, poppier future. There’s a strong set of designers who have come up in the past few years, who are playing with ideas of cartoon couture, pop art and subverted sportswear, like UK designer Carri Munden’s label Cassette Playa, Finnish designer Daniel Palillo and New York Hood by Air designer and DJ Shayne Oliver, whom Marcel cites as a compatriot. Munden is the most trail-blazing and high-profile of the pack, having enjoyed early attention from Lady Gaga’s fashion guru and Mugler designer Nicola Formichetti, who bought Munden’s thesis collection for his Tokyo-based shop SIDE BY SIDE. She was nominated for Britain’s Menswear Designer of the Year award in 2007 alongside Alexander McQueen and Christopher Bailey, solidifying her stature by both industry standards and the avant-garde street scene. Munden, who regularly styles for magazines like Dazed & Confused and SuperSuper as well as a slew of pop stars like MIA and Dizzee Rascal, has stated that she sees her work as very concept-driven and interested in the idea of being “a living cartoon.” Her website is a pixelated maelstrom of animated GIFs and internet memes, which smacks of the early-internet aesthetic permeating the current 2D and 3D design conversation. Well into the new year, a lingering Christmas wish reads: ± <3 * H a p p y Y u l e * <3 ± + h e r e s 2 t h e A p o c a l y p s e / n e w a g e / 2012 ☺
If fashion is forever rooted in elements of escapism and performance, this band of designers possesses a combined visual language that speaks directly to a generation socialized through screens and image aggregators. As Munden says in an early interview with the blog Lipstick Tracez, her influences include but are not limited to: cartoons, comics, computer games, Keith Haring, Memphis, tribal and graphic primitive patterns, geometric shapes, the colors from a packet of Wotsits candy, orange, green and blue. In other words, if this aesthetic has its way, the future of fashion will be an insane miasma of hyper-colored prints and internet logic, false nostalgia and context-less appropriation.
To seek out inspiration for his Spring 2012 collection, Finnish designer Daniel Palillo found himself trolling mundane American big-box stores in New York (where he was visiting on a grant) for inspiration, to create his bold, graphic basics—skulls with Marge Simpson ’fros, sweat shants with a heavy metal-looking type that say DESTROY and oversized jumpers printed to look like soccer balls. It’s an aesthetic that capitalizes on the boring, the kitsch, and sumblimates it. “I would go to Best Buy, the electronics store. I could spend three hours in there, and [then] I would go to the one in Walmart and spend another three hours there,” explains Palillo. “The people who [shop] there have really inspiring styles of wearing clothes, putting random things together, and it looks super cool on them.” In other words, just some kids wearing mismatched clothes and buying their electronics is inspiration enough, if you have imagination. Gerlan echoes his sentiment: “I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration from teens on the subway. Their bra straps are everywhere. You know, they have a tank-top on and then another tank-top over it. This one’s short and that one’s long and they’ve got two belts and like four straps.” This was directly translated into the “Mall Witch” collection in the form of a tight-fitting pencil skirt that falls, in multicolored layers of upside-down camisole tops, down to the knee.