In Berlin, fashion is often eyed critically by industry outsiders, but Dysfashional could force even die-hard opponents to take a second look. Rather than dealing with the material side, Dysfashional provides insider access into the minds of 19 designers and artists, including Raf Simons, Hussein Chalayan, Bernhard Willhelm, Kostas Murkudis, Gaspard Yurkievich, Michael Sontag, Marc Turlan and Damien Blottière, who were given carte blanche to reflect their thought processes in individual installations.
Set in an open space, "The art works are installed in a way they can almost talk to each other," noted Luca Marchetti, a curator of Dysfashional. The respective creatives were chosen for their strong conceptual orientation, and for their presence in Paris, Berlin or both. The exhibition, previously staged in Paris and now at Berlin's Haus der Kulturen der Welt, also explores the two cities' fashion landscapes, pitting Paris' spectacle against Berlin's underground aura. Or, as Marchetti suggested, "Berlin could be seen as an alter ego of Paris fashion."
Also on view are two related projects. Parasite by design duo Bless bridges the gap between creativity and commerce with exhibits up for sale, while Bodies in Motion is a collaboration among artists, designers and students from Esmod.
Berlin not only provides a strong platform for fashion newcomers, but it's now home to nine fashion schools as well. Running at the same time and place as Dysfashional, "Mode Macht Schule" presents the work of five colleges over a sixmonth period with Esmod and Berlin-Weissensee Academy of Arts showing during Berlin Fashion Week. Dysfashional: Through July 17. Mode Macht Schule: Through Nov. 28. Haus der Kulturen der Welt, 10 John-Foster-Dulles-Allee, 10557 Berlin; +49-30-397-870; hkw.de
HIGH ON THE SIXTIES
Often, the looks associated with a specific decade emerge later and continue longer than the strict 10-year period allows. And more often still, those fashion looks cover a lot more stylistic ground than simple tag lines would suggest. "High Sixties Fashion — Fashion Photography and Illustration" turns a wide-angle lens on the "Long Sixties," or the period historians date as 1958 through around 1974, before focusing on the more decisive and action-packed years of the "High Sixties" — 1964 to 1969.
Drawing on the extremely well-stocked reserves of the city's Lipperheidesche Costume Library, the exhibition also brings the Germanic Sixties to life. For though the show draws on photos and illustrations from London, Paris, Italy and the U.S. — including a Twiggy montage from a 1967 WWD special section — the majority of material is German.
What were the differences? In the eveningwear section called Swinging Party, a shot of a Jean Patou gown is flanked by photos of mid-Sixties creations by Berlin based designer Uli Richter — to interesting effect. Richter was one of Berlin's emerging high fashion makers until the building of the Berlin Wall effectively crushed that budding fashion moment.
Elsewhere, however, the focus is on mainstream Germany's brush with trends of the era. Adelheid Rasche, curator of the Costume Library and the current exhibition said, "The German version was always a bit more wellbehaved, quieter, a centimeter longer. Apparel makers didn't quite dare to push into the real avant-garde, and it always took a year longer for the looks to emerge here. Which remains true to this day."
Kunstbibliothek, 6 Matthäikirchplatz, 10785 Berlin; smb.museum. Open Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Thursday to 10 p.m.), and Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
SMOKE & MIRRORS
Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson's first solo exhibition in a Berlin institution is a sort of dizzying deconstructive love letter to his adopted city. Innen Stadt Aussen (or "Inner City Out"), Eliasson's show at the ornate Martin- Gropius Bau, plays with place, space and perception, feeling at times like a high-art fun house filled with lights and mirrors.
Eliasson holds a chair at Berlin's University of the Arts, where he heads the curiously named Institute of Spatial Experiments. Museumgoers might get the impression they are indeed being tested by the sculptures and installations on display, as a giant kaleidoscope, exquisite takes on disco balls, and a plethora of visual puzzles have them not quite believing their eyes and reflecting on what they saw. The last artwork may leave visitors in a fog but upon exiting the show, many will want to turn around and do it all over again. Nota bene: Don't be fooled by the long lines in the museum's lobby. They're also an optical illusion. The masses are waiting to see the Frida Kahlo retrospective upstairs, leaving Eliasson's delights for the discerning adventurer.
Martin-Gropius-Bau Berlin, 7 Niederkirchnerstrasse, corner of 110 Stresemannstrasse, 10963 Berlin; +49-30-254-860. Daily, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.