Questions for Raimund Berthold: SS13
I’d previously passed over Raimund Berthold’s designs as being not really for me, so I was therefore surprised to be so taken with the Berthold SS13 collection. Raimund’s earlier experiments with shape and form and use of ‘sculptural’ materials such as neoprene now look very prescient, given Balenciaga’s recent use of the same material.
Having overdosed on print and colour in recent seasons, suddenly the idea of monochome clothing that still makes a statement through playful, unconventional form is very appealing to me. So, I caught up with Raimund last week, for a Q&A session about the new collection. Below are Raimund’s witty, yet insightful ripostes to my questions and shots of the collection itself.
SL: SS13 looks very fresh, exuberant and youthful. What was your overall aim with this collection? Any specific starting points or inspirations for SS13?
RB: My aim was to refine what ‘shapes’ could be applied to menswear, whilst introducing a new fit for the people who wear my clothes. I’m always collecting images, which at the beginning of the season, go up on my studio wall. They change each season and are usually completely random but each image triggers something in me. I take my sketchbook, sit in front of the wall and see what happens. Some of the images I was looking at when working on Spring Summer 2013 were a bin-liner, a painted hand, a plastic covered urinal and a line-up of soldiers who all had a single continuous line, tattooed across their backs.
SL: It feels like the zeitgeist has finally caught up with your colour palette and your interest in experimenting with form: I’m thinking of Balenciaga’s neoprene tops and even Cos’s recent minimalism e.g. concealed plackets. Are there aspects of shape and form you want to explore? I love the asymmetric shirt fronts for example.
RB: The most interesting part of the process for me is always working on the shapes and fit of each garment – we spend a lot of time developing and reworking patterns. My clothes have to be subtle and comfortable. I’m not into costume or drama so much; your clothes should make a statement yes, but not shout about it.
SL: There’s a lot of black and white in this collection. Is there something liberating about monochrome?
RB: I love monochrome! Colour is never a major part of my design process and I know some people will get inspired by a great print or beautiful/colorful fabrics but with me, it is always shape and simplicity. I do like colour, as it can sometimes lift the collection, but I use it sparingly.
SL: Tell me about the oil prints, they’re amazing – what inspired them? What’s the process with the prints?
RB: They’re not oil, but I am glad you see them as that! I was on holiday in Montenegro, having breakfast on the beach. When I had finished a glass of fresh orange juice, I noticed how the thick drops were running down the inside of the glass, leaving a strange – almost galactic – coating. I took a photograph of the glass with the sunlight streaming through it and thought nothing of it except for when I got back home and stuck it up on my wall. I teamed up with Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham – the two amazingly talented girls behind Patternity – and they developed the photograph into a print, which we used in both a light and dark version.
SL: Do you have a specific person or type of person in mind when you design? What kind of man do you imagine wearing Berthold SS13?
RB: I don’t really work for a specific person no. I like the idea of all kinds of people wearing my garments. Quite a few girls wear my things too.
SL: In your biog, you talk about a dichotomy in London menswear – i.e. “samey” or “crazy/overhwhelming” – does this still stand? Where do you think we are with London menswear today?
RB: I think there is now so much choice in menswear and men seem to be more willing to make a statement, but there still seems to be a lot of stores that either sell the American heritage look of loud t-shirts and raglan sleeved sweatshirts, or they cater to the city boys on the weekend.
SL: What’s it been like to be part of the B-Store/Other family? Has this influenced how you approach your work now?
RB: It’s great being a part of the ‘Other’ family. Mathew and Kirk are great, and have always been so supportive of what I do. They like my aesthetic, which is sometimes different to their own but somehow it always works well in their shop. That support is so incredibly important. Working with Other doesn’t affect how I design, but it does allow me to understand who buys my clothes.
SL: What are some of your current cultural inspirations: reading, art, music, films etc?
RB: I don’t intentionally seek inspiration from the arts or music – that happens if the work interests me. Playing music in the studio definitely changes the mood when we’re working. I tend to listen to the radio alot as I like to hear new music, and very quickly get bored with listening to one artist for more than 15 mins. Right now, Planning To Rock and Azealia Banks are being played quite a bit at BERTHOLD! In terms of art, I go to lots of galleries and am a big follower of contemporary art. There are so many exciting artists like Oscar Murillo, Matias Faldbakken, Klara Liden, Joe Bradley, David Noonan and Phillida Barlow that I’m always looking at.
SL: For newcomers to your work: what’s the one thing you would like them to understand or appreciate about your designs?
RB: I would tell them not to worry about the clothes too much. And by that I mean it is so important to have fun with clothes. It’s not for me to dictate how someone should feel when they’re wearing something I designed, whilst staring at a photo of a woman with a paper bag on her head.