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A Real Gender Bender

 Berlin Fashion Week, Day One: A Real Gender Bender

Gender fluidity defined Berlin’s ethos and aesthetic long before it became fashion’s meme of the moment (see the Prada and Gucci men’s shows in Milan earlier this week or JW Anderson’s entire oeuvre). So it was no surprise to find designers blurring the lines between the sexes at the opening day of the Fall 2015 men’s and women’s shows here.

Kilian Kerner has grown up on Berlin’s catwalks, and his work is becoming increasingly refined. This season, he layered a pinstriped fabric with bold abstract prints on calf-length skirts and generously cut dresses. In this context, his strong dashes of dandyism added sex appeal. At Laurèl, models wore knee-high vinyl boots, cutout gowns, and leopard print pencil skirts and black lace bustiers with masculine parkas covering their shoulders.

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Alongside these clashes, other designers were thinking along androgynous lines, such as the Swedish brand Odeur where duffel-bag colored or monochrome coats were thrown over male and female models in sheer white and black shifts. Although lots of flesh could be seen, the uniforms erased gender differences. In the past, DYN designer Frida Homann has presented men’s jackets constructed from cut cloth flowers. This season, her guys looked sophisticated and graceful, but most of all believable in draped shawls, flowing gray coats over gently constructed suits, and belted tunics.

The show with the most swagger was Augustin Teboul’s erotically charged presentation at the Kronprinzenpalais theater. The all-black collection shown on a multigenerational cast of models evoked Berlin’s 1920s nightclub culture, where older women seduced ingenues​. A leather kilt with military boots and a web-like top was especially titillating on a blond model who resembled David Bowie in his late ’70s Berlin days.

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