by Veronika Gombert
photos by Boris Marberg
German designer Michael Michalsky chose an unusual location to present his Fall/Winter 2009 collection for Berlin Fashion Week. The Zionskirche is an old church in serious need of renovation, and it perfectly set the stage for “Saints and Sinners.”
The impetus for this particular collection was a reaction by the designer to Pope Benedict XVI’s archaic stand on homosexuality. Priestly robes and The Church’s current ideas about sin were literally his afflatus, from which the new collection arose.
Elements of saintly vestments were incorporated and overturned. A stola transmuted into sexy black cloaks, but a sensitive balanced hint of color gave an enlightening character to the otherwise cold elegance. The clothing evoked the same warm feeling one gets standing next to an array of votive candles, or how sunlight passing through stained-glass windows warms-up the stony interior of an old chapel.
From the Lord’s house to the streets of Berlin, sacral inspiration mixed with the subcultural influences of a fresh and opened city. The reformatted ecclesiastical garb incorporates the signature aspects of street wear without losing their luxury touch. Gold and plain colors, Swarovski crystal beset fabrics, and clinch covered men jackets upped the monk-wear to a more fancy character. Like in previous Michalsky collections, a clear reference to the 80’s was also present.
A distinctive and colorful gleam of hope, and definitely the highlight of the collection, is the prints of stained-glass windows, repeated throughout the collection in everything from elegant silk dresses to male trousers.
Michalsky’s expressed talents live up to his philosophy, “real clothes for real people.” The same authenticity is true for his provoking self-driven dramatization which gives his works their life. “Jesus Loves Me” was printed on the back of the shirt in which the designer presented himself at the end of the show.