It’s a bold statement for #Damur and definitely risky, to set their first runway show under this theme. But it suits the bold aesthetics and the social media history, the label is about to write. We’ve met DAMUR HUANG, the design mind behind the brand and talked about racism, the creative struggle and his inspiration, which he founds hidden beneath the rough beauty of Germany’s capital.
Huang is hard to capture in the first place. He’s constantly busy absorbing his surrounding and realizing it on paper or directly with the fabric. He seems light and open, but he also bares deep thoughts, which are reflecting on every piece of clothing he designs. The latest collection, carrying the title „You Are Not Black Enough,“ is an homage to youth culture and how they feel ‘okay’, being different to others. In simple words, the celebration of selfhood and our liberal lifestyle in the various subcultures of Berlin’. While the invitation is kept simply black and white, the expectations are high, he let us know. After a social media storm followed by the previous collections, he was nervous about this one in particular. Previous Statements have been #IamSlut and #ThisIsTrans, which have provoked massively, while the messages actually were about sending positive vibes and an open attitude through the screen. But in opposite to Virgil Abloh and his entirely white staff members, Huang has hired a young and very professional team, inspired from diverse ethnicities and backgrounds. A step into the right direction.
We spoke about his cultural heritage and the strict social structures in Taiwan, before he switched topics and pictured his experience coming to Berlin, struggling with the German bureaucracy system and the crazy aspect of poor and rich, put together side by side in the metro system. I felt him and tried to dig deeper, but Huang is destined to lead interviews the way he wants to, ignoring most of my questions to draw a bigger picture for us. I try to figure out, from where he got this creative force, coming in his life and making him so flamboyant and incredibly smart. The mother as he mentioned later, has always been a huge inspiration and support, I realize, while it’s only a side note by the designer in his life story of fighting for creative freedom and acceptance. It’s this certain feeling for open minded and highly sensitive people, to recognize and feel understood, even if the words aren’t clear. But he knows what he’s doing and finally arriving at my chosen angle, the words were flowing out of him. He loves Berlin and the rough edges: „Paris was always too chic and nobody cared,“ he admits. „No one would come during the busy schedule and if you haven’t done some competitions first, there was no interest in your work – No matter, how relevant it could be,“ he explained before he takes off and speaks about his years in Belgium and the time, in which he learned more about his asymmetrical designs.
Bold Statement, Bold Fashion?
I asked him why this collection was especially around this risky statement, which could have been again a reason for a medial shit storm and after a short excursion into social history, we ended up agreeing that diversity is something beautiful and that it was Berlin, which has finally managed this balance act between a divided society and the spirit of equality. Which is of course also related to the liberal governmental approach of our infamous nightlife. „I would wish for a world without borders“ he said, but he goes on immediately and explains, that he’s also „attracted by the ugliness of certain things. What ever that defines, but for example that button. Most people think ist ugly, but I like this odd details” and he’s right, they give the abstract designs the final finish and make them high-fashion. A standard which is remains hard to keep in the german fashion capital.
The show itself started with Huang on the runway and you could feel the pressure behind his 1:15 minutes speech, before the models took their turn. All of them have been casted at the U-8 subway line, in collaboration with the BVG. At the Alexander Platz to be precise, a place to cross directions and weirdly, still a symbol for the cities powerful history of many different identities living democratically together in one place. Through the first half of the defilée, he presented models dressed in black and white for 23 looks, walking down the runway in reconstructed and asymmetrical pant-suits or oversized T-Shirt robes and work wear mixed with lingerie elements. Just as the audience seemed starting to hallucinate, a firework of metallic accents followed in similar tailoring, but mixed up with glitter details, almost like a filme noir had been clashed with a 80’s birthday party decoration. The faces are enlightened, either by the sudden change of color, or by the ground breaking aesthetics of Huang’s new collection. In the end it was the statement after the show, bringing everyone who works behind the Damur’s vision on the runway, which made a huge point during this years #MBFW. I’m not sure, but it definitely felt like a celebration, joyful and diverse, subversive; somehow about to define itself through the various social media channels. Last but not least it remains the celebration of youth and might have been the birthdate of #Damur’s international fashion career and the introduction to a wider audience. △