Philipp Plein doesn’t seem to be satisfied with clothes as they are. He wants more. More skull-and-bones embroideries. More rhinestone-studded sleeves. More graphics jazzed up with sequins. More anchor patches and more sparkles—so many more sparkles. But above all, Plein wants more spectacle; that’s the statement he makes with his runway shows, where his collections compete with the performance.
For Spring, set in an abandoned historic public swimming pool (refurbished for the show), Plein’s clothes were up against a team of synchronized swimmers, Theophilus London rapping from the back of a moving Jet Ski, a duo of endlessly circling Jet Ski stuntmen, and the strong odor of gasoline from said Jet Skis’ engines. That all may sound a bit much for an otherwise straightforward collection to compete with, but rest assured, Plein did all he could to keep the clothes from drowning. Denim was slim, scored, and frayed from hip to hem. Exotic animal skins were deployed freely, most notably as lapels. Sneakers were like normal high-top sneakers but bigger, in both height and girth.
Restraint, often touted as a virtue of great designers, is not one of Plein’s strong suits. But considering his massive commercial success, swimming against the current may be how he stays afloat.