Fall 2018 Ready-to-Wear
March 6, 2018
Paris is burning—no, wait, I mean snowing. I arrived at Bernhard Willhelm’s showroom and he was sitting by the door in layers and layers of cold-weather wear. “Do you want coffee?” he asked as he got up and headed towards where I assumed the coffee must be. “And wipe your feet,” he called back. He’s direct like that. And he likes warm weather, but, “the snow slows things down,” he told me—“a little quiet in the city is nice.” He walked me through an edited collection, smaller than usual, but perhaps better for it—more focused and a higher ratio of must-have items. “Now I just give them three ideas,” he said. Which three? “The Savior of the World, capitalism, the Louvre, maize…” That was four, but who’s counting? A model in a voluminous cerulean moleskin number walked out, and Willhelm drew my attention to a lookbook picture of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Savior of the World. In the image, Christ is wearing something similar. “You know it is the most expensive painting ever sold? And it is now in the Louvre Abu Dhabi,” he told me. The painting was printed on other pieces too, as was the Mona Lisa. Some of the prints were of Mona Lisa jigsaws. “Yes, the Mona Lisa—she’s on jigsaws, teacups, key rings—an icon becomes a symbol of merchandising. And now, The Savior of the World is too.” Priapic cobs of corn hung heavy down the front of shorts and pants, some to the left, some to the right, and on one particularly voluminous piece that looked like it could accommodate a cob of such well-hung proportions, down the middle. After we spoke of corn cobs we talked about the neighborhood his showroom’s in. “There is great food here,” he said. “Middle Eastern, African,” at which he winked at me. He told me the cobs of corn were inspired by the polenta he’d been eating at a friend’s house in the mountains. Polenta, huh? Okay then, Bernhard.