Germanier Embraces Chaos

October 3, 2022

Every aspect of Kevin Germanier’s Spring Summer 2023 collection is about finding beauty in the imperfections of the world. For his sophomore runway show, the Swiss upcycling expert wanted to push himself away from his tendency towards clean lines and sharp edges. Arriving at something more improvised than usual, he unleashed his creativity on discarded fabrics from luxury houses, transforming them into something beautiful and new. Beyond the clothing, the Palais de Tokyo space was lined with chairs that the designer found on the streets of Paris, each one upcycled with sequins, yarns, and feathers.

Notwithstanding his propensity for a dazzling colour palette and other magpie predispositions – both present in this show – the designer explored uncharted tonal territory through black, white, silver, and grey. (Germanier interprets black in many ways, such as burgundy and dark green.) The monochromatic looks were rendered in his signature intricate beading, well-wrought as ever. Elsewhere, he juxtaposed glistening sequins and shiny foil detailing with a smattering of crocheted ensembles – this, a collaboration with Brazilian artist Gustavo Silvestre. The more colourful pieces were inspired by the anthropomorphic entities in Alex Garland’s Annihilation, the 2018 film laced with metaphysical questions about self-destruction. 

“I like things that are sharp. When things are messy, it’s scary. This season is explosive. So not only am I exploring new texture, new colour, new fabrics, but as a human being, I’m exploring myself,” Germanier said over the phone from his Paris studio, where fittings for the show were underway. 

Would you describe yourself as an explorer?

I consider myself an explorer and there’s different meanings to exploration. For example, when you are upcycling, you never know what you’re going to find. In order to find something, you have to explore vintage stores, you have to go to factories in China, or you explore landfills in Africa. I’m on this quest. Exploration is also linked to innovation: How can I make something new out of an old material? I’m a believer that if you want to break the rules, you have to know the rules. Therefore, you really have to explore the material, you need to feel the material. To explore the material in all its forms. How does it react when it’s melted? Can I do embroideries on top? 

Is exploration something that comes naturally to you?

It comes naturally in the sense that I’m constantly limited. I’m always challenged by the materials that I find. If you tell me, “Hey, Kevin, I have this old denim jacket that I love and it’s a little bit broken, can you do something?”, I would love to explore this material and see what I can do with it. But if you tell me, “Here’s some money, go buy yourself whatever you want to make an outfit,” I almost feel not challenged and uncreative. If you do not explore, you always stick to the same style, colour, and design. On a personal level, I get very bored. I want to challenge myself. We never did sequins before and this season there are lots of them. There was a defect in production which meant that they could literally cut your fingers. So we had to find a new way to cut the sequins to make them safe again. 

What concepts have you explored this season?

At my first [runway] show, last season, I wanted to introduce Germanier to people who were not familiar with us. I focused on the best of the brand. This season, it’s the total opposite because I [have become] more confident. I wanted to explore my deepest fear, which is chaos. I want to show the more vulnerable side to my creativity. In the fashion industry, we are so afraid to show our prototypes. I’m always talking about sustainability so, for me, I have to show the [failures] rather than remaking something. I refuse to make something five times to get it right. If it didn’t work, it didn’t work. But maybe that’s the beauty of it: that it’s not working. I dislike having conversations with journalists where I have to say. “Everything is amazing.” It’s never like that. Most of the time it’s not working. Let’s be honest.

Why does exploration feel like such a fundamental part of fashion?

I constantly explore to stay in the game. Otherwise, you could get quite dated. I could not imagine being a creative and not exploring new things. Maybe if you don’t explore anymore, it’s time for you to retire and to find another hobby, or another passion. The reason why I’m making garments is because my muse doesn’t exist. Every season, I’m trying to give her a form and shape. But maybe one day, I will dress [my hypothetical muse]. I will say “My job here is done.”

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