Juxtaposition is something which occurs frequently in the vernacular of high-fashion. Whether it be the interplay between dark and light or a balance of masculinity and femininity, the element of contrast is something which seems to fascinate designers. Bunyamin Aydin is one case in point – the creative director of Istanbul-based Les Benjamins yesterday showed a collection entitled “Opulent Punk” during Milan’s ongoing Menswear Fashion Week.
Following the lead of up-and-comers such as Cottweiler and Christopher Shannon, Aydin eschewed a traditional runway show in favour of a presentation held at the city’s grandiose Circolo Filologico. Within its ornate decoration and intricate wall tapestries, the venue’s decoration succeeded in communicating the more opulent elements of the brand’s vision.
The punk elements, however, were communicated not only aesthetically but also in terms of casting. In what could be seen as a veiled commentary on the current homogeneity of the fashion industry, the brand tapped a refreshingly diverse cast of models to front the collection. Slim, androgynous boys covered in piercings were lined up next to muscular, tatted-up models and, in keeping with the recent trend of gender-neutral collections, two women in technicolour wigs were mixed in amongst the cast.
In reference to the brand’s origin, two Sufi dancers were enlisted to whirl poetically around the static models. By definition, Sufi dancing is a form of physically active meditation, a customary dance which is frequently performed in ceremonies of worship. Dressed in traditional white robes, the two dancers added an element of theatre as well as an element of performance – a new take on the formulaic runway shows seen each season.
As for the clothes themselves, some of the world’s most famous faces were borrowed and screen-printed onto oversized tees and drop-crotch trousers. The prints were almost graffiti-inspired, and featured Grace Jones adorned with a nose ring alongside the familiar face of Salvador Dali. Steering clear of colour saturation, these bold pieces were teamed primarily with plain black tees and a series of sleeveless biker jackets. Hemlines also varied, with some pieces designed to more closely resemble robes and dresses than T-shirts.
This unique blend of spirituality, pop culture and relaxed silhouettes is what sets the aesthetic of Les Benjamins aside from its counterparts. More than just a clothing brand, Aydin has previously enlisted rapper Travis Scott to perform for the label and has forged an identity which goes beyond fashion and incorporates culture as a whole. Despite first showing over two years ago, it seems that Les Benjamins is slowly becoming more relevant than ever – a result of fashion’s current fascination with ‘sportswear’ and its place on the runway. With its emphasis on diversity and distinctive aesthetic, it seems that Aydin has created a label which is definitely one to watch.