Babak Radboy Gets Real for Telfar

Published September 5, 2013

ABOVE: ALY (LEFT, BOSS MODELS) AND TELFAR CLEMENS HAVE A BENETTON MOMENT. IMAGE COURTESY OF ASGER CARLSEN

After successfully turning the art and fashion worlds on their respective heads with the outrageously ambitious Shanzhai Biennial, the most avant-garde faux branding experiment in recent memory, Iranian artist Babak Radboy—perhaps best known for his award-winning art direction alongside Marco Brambilla on Kanye West’s “Power” video—logically threw his newfound prowess for creative marketing behind an actual brand.

“A lot of the projects I do relate a certain sense of cynicism,” Radboy explains, “but when I first started working with Telfar, I had to get over that hump because I actually cared so much about the project.”

Despite major designers knocking down his door, either to create a “real” line for Shanzhai or to bolster “brand aura” for their own lines, Radboy chose to work exclusively with the matured but still uncompromising Telfar Clemens, whose career as a fashion designer he had been following closely since 2004.

“Telfar is an actual fashion designer, in that fashion should be about design, not just cultural reference. Telfar’s line has a consistent identity. It’s not comparable to anything, not trying to attach itself to an indicators,” says Radboy, who is determined to see Telfar’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection mark a definitive milestone for the brand. “It doesn’t just have to look good, it has to work. It’s about making this season the turning point, imagining the very real future with Telfar as a mainstream brand.”

Telfar S/S 2014 marks the New York-based designer’s 17th ready-to-wear collection. The line promises to feature a complete collection of swim-inspired activewear, accessories in waterproof materials, bathing suits, jewelry, men’s shoes, and several unprecedented looks, including a limited-edition series of high-concept t-shirts for those with or without a keen grasp on the meta nature of fashion and an altered unisex hoodie destined to become an instant cultural phenomenon.

“It’s going to be big,” says Babak. “There’s going to be some serious technology at play.”

Models will emerge from behind a curtain comprised of hundreds of LED screens displaying 20-foot-wide videos of their own faces, hopefully in that particularly Shanzhai brand of commercial ecstasy popularized by Chinese artist Yue Minjun. Music duties will once again fall to the mysterious and unbridled Fatima Al Qadiri, and fellow long time collaborator Aveena Gallagher will serve as the event’s Fashion Director. With Radboy at the wheel, the team will assist Telfar in exploring what is perhaps the most avant-garde—and unexpected—theme of all: mainstream.

TELFAR SPRING/SUMMER 2014 WILL SHOW AT 3 PM THIS SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 8, AT THE HIGHLINE ROOM AT THE STANDARD HOTEL.