this issue contains
>> Crossing borders with artcouture
>> Comics at Louis Vuitton
>> Art of the runway at Issey Miyake' s
>> Fashion's muse: Claudia Skoda
>> Bootlegging brands with Olaf Nicolai

>> archive

 
"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 exhibition "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 - collection

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 Salomé and 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 Guggenheim.

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?

Claudia Skoda : 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?

It 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: Couture", 1997-2000


You played an important role in putting on the show. How would you describe the artistic concept of "Art and Paper on the Fashion Runway"?

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.

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