Op-Ed | With FW19 Show, Philipp Plein Continues Reign as Undisputed King of Bad Taste
The views and opinions expressed in this piece are those solely of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of Highsnobiety as a whole. In this piece, Eugene Rabkin, the founder of StyleZeitgeist, shares his experience at Philipp Plein’s NYFW show.
When it comes to fashion, Philipp Plein is today’s undisputed king of bad taste. His approach to design, if one may call it that, is “the more bling the better.” Sparkles on everything, giant Swarovski crystal skulls, Playboy bunnies; his universe is as tacky as it gets. That something like that can apparently generate $900 million in annual sales has always flabbergasted me.
Whatever formulae I have developed to make sense of this world clearly do not exist in that of Plein. And so I decided to go see a Philipp Plein show, not for any ironic reason – it seems that Plein and his audience are devoid of irony- and not even to hate-watch, but out of sheer curiosity of someone going on a safari. I wanted to see what it’s like to be in the world where pursuit and display of wealth are considered the highest goals of humanity.
What went down at the Plein extravaganza would make P.T. Barnum green with envy, though apparently compared to some of Plein’s previous shows it was a tame affair. Perhaps things proceeded more cautiously because of the Kanye West fiasco (Plein was reportedly hustled out of $900,000 by a former West associate who promised a West performance that never materialized). I’ll fast-forward to say that West was replaced by Lil Pump, whose claim to fame is “Gucci Gang,” perhaps the most idiotic track in the history of hip-hop.
The invite promised a three-course dinner with two runway shows in between – one for Plein’s main line, and another for his newish line Billionaire, aimed at older men with too much money and too little taste. We were all ushered into The Grill & The Pool, a restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. The invite asked for a black tie attire, but this being 21st Century New York, the male crowd was divided into those who showed up in a bow tie and those who did not. The younger men looked decidedly casual. My favorite of these was a guy who decided to offset the understatement of his black leather perfecto and black skinny jeans with slip-on shoes covered in silver glitter that I imagine Hugh Hefner would proudly wear with his Sunday best. Despite the dim lighting, he always kept his sunglasses on.