MILAN, ITALY [JANUARY 17, 2015] – To grasp the essence of this Philipp Plein collection, simply take a quick click through the gallery attached—you really don’t need me to state the obvious. Yet to further enrich the experience, some additional details might prove useful: All that crocodile and python is the real, cold-blooded deal. Plein said backstage that the croc football shirts are about €30,000 a pop; the python jerseys, €35,000. What we had here was sports-to-streetwear pumped to the max with luxury steroids but essentially left unrefined. (Sure, there were LEDs glowing in the soles of the high-tops and more tiny studs than you’d find at a PUA convention.)
What looked like tactical body armor rippled like a cyborg’s six-pack under one look, and Plein closed the show with a brace of horned and studded motorcycle helmets (they were still gluing on the studs half an hour before the show). Frankly, though, such nuances were easy to overlook in favor of the staging. The models emerged from the mouth of a giant tiger’s head, defined in geometric vectors, whose eyes projected beams of light. And they circled a caged boxing ring in which two gents duked it out, slightly unconvincingly, between two Snoop Dogg performances. Sandwiched in the middle of the models and Snoop was a troupe of body-painted oil-drum percussionists. Plus, Paris Hilton was in the house. She reported a plan to watch Westwood tomorrow and said she had invited 10 Dsquared² models to her DJ set for Just Cavalli tonight. “I love fashion week,” she mused. “There are so many hot guys.”
It would be all too easy to dismiss Plein as a circus act. And indeed, there was plenty of such editorial muttering on the cobblestones of Piazza Vetra after Snoop called it a night. But Plein doesn’t especially care. “We are selling,” he said backstage. “This is the point. If I wasn’t selling, then I wouldn’t be here. I am not here to please the people of the press…I am a customer boy. I am a working-class hero. I am not here to make you guys happy; I am here to make the customer happy. They pay my bills. They make all this happen.” Plein says he has no investors, no debts, and last year hit €200 million in wholesale revenue. He is grippingly driven. “I entered the fashion industry as an outsider, and I still see myself as one. I don’t really want to become an insider, because I like the way it is at the moment,” he explained. “The fashion industry is saturated. There is no space for something new. Where are the new brands? The new Dolce & Gabbanas, the new Guccis? It is protected—a protected world. And in order to survive I cannot reinvent the shoe, the pant, or the shirt; everything exists already. So you have to find a niche, and this is what we did from the beginning. And now we are growing out of that niche.”
Last night Plein debuted as a judge on an Italian variation of The X Factor calledForte Forte Forte, a role of which he says, “I think I’m the bad guy, because I say things straight and how they are.” Even with the abundance of Swarovski that comes attached, that surely makes him sort of a good guy.