"No more talking - now you're going to chirp": An
interview with the Berlin-based designer Claudia Skoda
"Art and paper on the fashion runway": on the occasion of James Rosenquist's
"Swimmer in the Econo-mist", she was the artistic director of an
unusual fashion show of wearable works of art put on in the exhibition
space of the
Deutsche Guggenheim in the spring of 1998.
Claudia Skoda is a key figure of Berlin Couture and an icon of the
seventies and eighties underground scene. With her lavish and experimental
approach to materials, patterns, colors, and tailoring, she radically
freed knitting once and for all from its formerly frumpy reputation,
developing it into a highly individual style.
Martin Kippenberger: playing card
with Queen Claudia Skoda, 1978
Claudia Skoda: spring / summer 2004 -
Skoda's stark colors, yarn, and innovative designs tailored
seamlessly around the body have made her works unmistakable to this day.
Her fashion shows are legendary, attracting international attention in
their inimitable mixture of fashion, performance, art, and music.
Claudia Skoda - Portrait
Flying the painters
Luciano Castelli on trapezes over visitors' heads, recording with the
musicians from Kraftwerk,
appearing in the films of
Ulrike Ottinger, or finding inspiration in her friendship to
Martin Kippenberger, Iggy Pop
, and David Bowie - Claudia
Skoda's foible for the Gesamtkunstwerk is obvious. Even after the
cosmopolite opened up her own store in New York and began shuttling back
and forth between Germany and SoHo, she's still remained true to her
hometown of Berlin. Last year, she opened up a new store in Alte
Schönhauser Straße in Berlin Mitte. The workshop that manufactures her
fashion line by hand is also located here. Maria Morais and
Oliver Koerner von Gustorf visited Claudia Skoda at her workplace and
talked to her about art and paper on the fashion runway, chirping models,
and the creative hotbed for art and fashion.
James Rosenquist at the opening of Swimmer in the Econo-mist at Deutsche
It's already a few years back that you were the artistic
director of "Art and Paper on the Fashion Runway" in the Deutsche
Guggenheim. What was the mood like back then?
: In 1998, the museum had only been in existence for one year and was still
completely new to Berlin. There was an experimental spirit prevailing
somehow. Even the doormen of the Deutsche Guggenheim played a special role
in the fashion show, wearing underwear specially designed by
Tobias Rehberger that couldn't, of course, be seen beneath their uniforms.
Later, security personnel wearing Rehberger's underwear walked down the
runway, but it was a little difficult to convey to the public what was
actually being shown here.
John Bock's designs also posed a challenge to everyone involved; before
the show began, he smeared the models from head to toe with shaving cream.
Some of the works arrived at the last minute, including John Bock's, whom
I was responsible for inviting to the fashion show as well as
Rainer Fetting and Luciano Castelli. Initially, the Deutsche Guggenheim's
selection only consisted of around six or seven people. I was the one who
brought the rest of the artists into the project, and some of them were
making really nice things.
Art and paper on the fashion runway (John Bock), 1998
Apparently, the professional models didn't always think so…
That had to do with the art of Alba
D'Urbano , which turned out to be pretty ticklish. She had designed
tricots printed with naked women's bodies, and some of the models refused
to put them on.
Was it because they felt naked?
was more because they didn't find the clothing particularly aesthetic.
Especially the drooping breasts printed on the fabric. But D'Urbano's
works were really wonderful. At the time,
Robert Altman's movie
"Pret-a-Porter" had just been running, at the end of which
the models walk down the runway naked…
Art and paper on the fashion runway
(John Bock), 1998
Alba D'Urbano, "Il Sarto Immortale:
You played an important role in putting on the show. How
would you describe the artistic concept of "Art and Paper on the Fashion
For the fashion show in the Deutsche Guggenheim,
I switched art and fashion around. When an artist designs a collection,
the question arises, of course, as to how this art or fashion should be
worn. Our concept consisted in a kind of reversal: we helped ourselves to
artistic methods and staged the fashion as a performance, as though it
were art. In contrast, the actual works of art, that is, the works the
artists had made, were presented as a classical défilé. The idea was to
present the artists' works as a current collection, just like in the shows
in Paris. I was interested in using the type of presentation to declare
the art objects to be fashion.