Just last season, Berlin brand Namilia foreshadowed the rumors of Trump's golden showers fetish with a collection that featured his orange-colored head superimposed onto porn stars getting peed on. This potent imagery, which appeared on patches safety-pinned to looks, came about when the President's candidacy seemed humorous--a not-so-subtle stab at a reality star whose chances of winning felt highly unlikely. But fashion undoubtedly exists within a bubble, and we all blindly underestimated the power of our nation's divisive patriarchy.
For fall '17, Namilia continued making a potent political statement, only this season, with Trump's presidency in full force, the stakes were much higher. Designer duo Nan Li and Emilia Pfohl rolled out an army to fight the Trumpocalypse, featuring looks emblazoned with the propaganda, "Join the Resistance." The runway manifesto read, "Untouchable, Unflushable, Uncrushable," describing the Namilia warrior as someone who fights back against "devaluation of powerful women as sexual and dangerous."
Set to an operatic industrial soundtrack, Namilia's collection saw references to techno culture and motocross--camouflage-printed chaps, flame-shaped wings and oversized, protective outerwear detailed with generous glitter. Namilia revived their signature phallus this season, creating a woven, laser-cut pattern that appeared on jackets, bras, floor-length dresses and basketball shorts. This look, though arguably contradictory to a femme resistance, was Namilia's way of reclaiming masculine imagery on women's bodies.
OUT caught up with Namilia to dissect the designers' politically charged fall '17 presentation.
What was your larger political statement this season?
Since our last show in September so much has happened. What could have been a bad prediction has unfortunately become harsh reality and the Namilia tribe is gearing up for resistance. I think troubled times like these remind us that fundamental human rights, like freedom of religion and speech, LGBT and women's right can't always be taken for granted, but have to be fought for. This spirit is reflected in our new collection. It's not just about the U.S. and Donald Trump, but more about a resistance against the global movement towards regressive and conservative thinking.
Your women were covered with penises, which is a symbol of masculinity. Unpack this symbolism.
We brought back the phallus shape from our first collection, as it has become a signature statement for the brand. For us the phallus is something untouchable--the most powerful and proud symbol for masculinity and patriarchy. By turning it into a cute and feminine decorational element as in lace and bra cups, this is our way to deprive the phallus of its power and to turn it into something more trivial.
How does this collection relate to the larger Namilia brand?
We definitely wanted to keep the fetish theme, which is something we will explore more for the coming seasons, as well. Also sports and streetwear references are elements that are deeply rooted in Namilia collections. Compared to last season, we wanted to experiment more with shape and volume and went into a more couture approach. Inspired from early 2000s Galliano and '90s Mugler collections, we wanted to define our own form of streetwear. Clashing the ordinary and masculine with something extremely feminine and decorative to create a youthful form our haute couture is also a very Namilia approach to design.
Your presentation this season felt noticeably anxious. Does this reflect what you're feeling?
We are living in super unstable times, where huge cultural gaps in western societies are growing bigger and bigger and if we don't stand together and work on the real issues, it might become really dangerous for everyone. I think this is why this collection turned out to be a lot darker and more aggressive.
Paris Hilton's portrait appeared on several looks...
Paris Hilton was one of the inspirational pop icons we picked this season. She was the original reality TV star who used her own personality and turned it into an empire. We think it's funny how powerful women are either perceived as evil and dangerous or sexual and therefore senseless. We really want to change this preconceived image of female power.
What do you think is fashion's role in the political conversation?
When looking back on the history in fashion, you can see that fashion can become a powerful weapon and symbol in political conversations. Punks, Hippies and other youth cultural movements used clothing among other things to communicate their conflicts and criticisms at existing systems. I think we are approaching times when fashion can play a great role in political movements again and we are working very hard for our brand to be part of something larger and to succeed, not just through fashion statements, but also cultural relevance.