Watch Out For: Melitta Baumeister

via thisispaper
Pardon me, but this topic may seem albeit outdated but hear me out. Back in September last year, designers/brands were showing their spring/summer 14 collections and I found them largely banal. Maybe safe, digestible, uncomplicated were key words for this spring/summer. The jury is still out. What is out is a lot of yellow and the return of pastels/sorbets. The former I find is universal jaundice inducing while the latter I simply am not a fan of - I mean, why would anyone want to look wash out?

Except for maybe Prada, Celine and Christopher Kane (and Alexander Wang, but I am biased to that). Those are the only collections I still remember. Or wish to remember. (Seriously, who looks good in yellow???).

Oh and this designer: Melitta Baumeister.

Baumeister who? I know, right? Which, really, makes it even more impressive that an unknown designer can stand out in a sea of established designers. Well maybe if they did impactful pieces the way Baumeister did...

But I digress.
via style
I was looking at Parsons The New School For Design show on style.com which debuted for the first time on the site (the second show for the program however). It showcased the collections of the graduates of the new MFA Fashion Design and Society course. Anyway after clicking it, that instant visceral reaction I look for in clothes and find so rarely, happened. It was the image of a stark white motorcycle jacket (it seemed to be made of neoprene) so tremendously oversized and volumed.

Again, this kind of reaction is almost always visceral and inexplicable but my guess would be is that the combination of a moto jacket being perennially cool, my penchant for neoprene (look expensive, cerebral for cheap, hellooooo), and the largeness of the piece maybe had something to do it. So basically everything about it drew me in.  It felt familiar and curiously new at the same time.

Naturally, I went to google her as one does when something/someone fascinates them. I had to find out  more. She is a German designer based in New York and her aesthetic is informed by "focuses on new materiality, while her work merges fashion, objects, sculpture and installation." What's most interesting is perhaps how the garments are created: "Baumeister cast sewn pieces in one continuous layer of silicone, creating a rubberized, pliable fabric with bounce and structure. Rather than relying on patterns and cuts, shapes are predetermined by the molds into which they are cast."

Fabric, the new frontier.

I was impressed and for someone with an obsessive personality, I couldn't stop think about Baumeister's pieces. Fast forward to February and I was pleasantly surprised to see she was showing again. This time with VFiles who puts out a show "which plucks ambitious designers out of cyberspace and plops them onto a New York catwalk." Her pieces are editorial after all (shout outs internet!).

A few weeks later, Paris Fashion Week happened and Rihanna was in town to attend a few shows. And although I hate labels and admittedly those of fandom, I was following Rihanna's activities religiously which is totally #RihannaNavy behaviour don't you think? (Or maybe I'm just generally a large fan of pop culture which Rihanna is largely a part of).
via le-21eme
Anyway outside of the Comme des Garcons show, there was Rihanna wearing what was undeniably a Baumeister jacket. It's kind of like seeing a legendary Pokemon like Mew (I hope I know my audience and hope you get this reference) and to see it on one of the biggest pop stars just seem improbable.

And also respect to Rihanna's democratic approach to fashion - she paired the coat with another unknown designer Hyein Seo's FEAR fur. Wearing an unknown designer to a prominent show is doooope. "Melitta’s coat was one of the greatest coats of the season, even if a lot of people haven’t heard of her yet. That whole collection blew my mind." says her stylist, Mel Ottenberg. I'm glad you agree.

And now I'm writing this. Because I'm excited. Because I want to see more of Melitta Baumeister.  And because I want more people to see her work and maybe exclaim like I did. After all, we could all use a giant neoprene coat, don't you think?

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