Two Designers Say NO to Fashion Copycats

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Published March 15, 2010

Forget about artists working in the age of mechanical reproduction: fashion victims in the age of digital reproduction are looking harder than ever for that aura of uniqueness. This is the challenge for German designer-duo Christian Niessen and Nicole Lachelle, both of whom worked for Helmut Lang: for collectors or those suffering from a copycat complex, their video art-meets-fashion label offers one-off items.

The pair starts by making a short film, capturing the weather, the streets, and local forests. They digitally flatten the image and the colors, and blur out all the details. Sixty consecutive shots of the footage are printed, one after the other, onto a collection of sixty items. The film is never used again; the items are individually numbered and labelled and become part of on an online archive. The result resembles a flipbook: looking quickly at the pieces side-by-side,you can see the passing clouds or windy forests of the original footage.

“Today, nothing is ever really unique,” explains Lachelle. “Sometimes it’s in limited editions, but that’s it.” Surely, the use of digital film to create absolute uniqueness is a way of showing the finger to 2.0 pessimists. As for the clothes, they are primarily loosely draped cardigans and dresses in tech-looking fipers, with inspirations like the straight waists tightened by a kimno-style belts, and Chris Marker’s classic art film La Jetée in his rapid succession of images and grey tints. They are made of improbable combination of leather, wools, and clear silk nylon moving between the fabrics as if they were one, fully imprinted piece—or just one unit in a mysterious story.