Discovery: Wali Mohammed Barrech

If there was one designer who really turned heads at Copenhagen Fashion Week last month, it was Wali Mohammed Barrech. Born in Pakistan, trained in Belgium, and now living in Denmark, the recent Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp grad certainly made a statement with his unisex collection of military-inspired looks. With what appeared to be a version of a Power Rangers jumpsuit as the base, Barrech was able to highlight his strength in accessories and intricate coats in red, white, and black.

But it wasn’t just the clothes-there was something in the air as editors and stylists from around the globe watched the models march through the puddle of blood that Barrech had placed on the floor of the dark room. As they trampled through it, their utilitarian boots worked as stamps, leaving traces of the bloody footprints all over the place by the show’s end. When the lights finally came on, there was a unanimous “wow” uttered as the guests took a moment to process what they had just seen.
While most of the designers in Copenhagen are sticking close to their commercial roots, Barrech is using the clothes as a medium to launch a discussion on much bigger topics of social concern. “As fashion designers now, it’s our responsibility to create new ideas,” he explains. “Of course we should dream, but we should also be realistic instead of editing the ugly out.”
HOMETOWN: Karachi, Pakistan.
CURRENT LOCATION: Copenhagen, Denmark
FUNCTION FIRST: It’s an Autumn/Winter collection and one needs to think about what that really means. At some shows, you see excessive use of fur on top and then they are wearing shorts or something on the runway. Nowadays, you don’t need that. My goal as a designer is to give a full wardrobe from the underwear to the garment. I have military and utility references. It’s important that you can wear it and it’s got a function – it’s not just a fad. That would not be sustainable or responsible of me.
FUR RULES: I am actually not really a fan of fur and I find the way fur is used these days, and especially the way it’s perpetuated, is very unethical. It’s based on a notion of luxury that is completely dated. My new collection is about collateral damage and sociopolitical violence. It’s about editing information out to seem more aesthetical than it is. What we are trying to do is visualize this violence that has been edited out and point it out and make it a strong part of our collection and confront the viewer, not only with consumption issues, but also with the actual garments. We collaborated with Saga Furs. They really take responsibility for what they do -what the animals were fed, how they were treated, etc. It is not just an action against fur, I am just saying that when we produce, we should produce more consciously and talk about the things we do.
TREND TALK: Turtlenecks are so in these days, especially here in Copenhagen. For me, if you are using trends, I think you should make them your own. This is my version of the turtleneck, with what looks like blood dripping out of it. It was important for me to show the blood as part of the statement I am trying to make.
ON DANISH STYLE: I just moved to Denmark. What I immediately noticed in Danish people is that it’s in their culture to think about functionality. Danish people really look into the world and what’s happening in Europe and in America. They are highly educated and it’s important to them to look elegant. There is always this fine feel for the silhouette. You see that a lot here. On a really high level, everybody is dressed really, really well. You don’t see that other places.