“Clothes can be sexy,” says Andreas Schmidl, co-founder of Swedish label Lazoschmidl. He’s reflecting on brands that celebrate homoerotic clichés, and the fashion industry’s tendency to categorise these as “kitsche.” Through Lazoschmidl, Andreas and Josef Lazo are catering for a freer view of fashion that caters to those who view getting dressed as an extension of their sexual identity.
Indeed, Lazoschmidl is not your regular fashion label. Yes, they make clothes. But it’s with less of a commercial outlook, more a fluid creative exploration through which they can push gender norms and liberate codes of dressing. Each season they plan every look around a literary fantasy, which for FW17 was, “Male prostitutes eating liquorice and vanilla ice cream of each other’s bodies topped with artificially flavoured raspberry sauce.” Yeah. From there came the clothes (like an ice blue negligee that Andreas says makes for “seductive” look when worn with jeans and sneakers). Then a runway themed around the notion of glam rock hustlers, inspired by the underground red light scenes of Frankfurt and Washington Boulevard. For the lookbook, they invited models to their apartment and photographed them in various states of undress.
Now, they are taking us inside their corresponding, limited edition fanzine (100 copies only). As Andreas here explains, it takes the project in an overall moodier direction that explores how ‘low culture’ can sometimes reveal itself as highly aesthetic.
Tempe Nakiska: So with each collection you begin with a literary experiment, bouncing off some words or a theme. Can you tell us how you came up with this season’s theme, ‘Male prostitutes eating liquorice and vanilla ice cream of each other’s bodies topped with artificially flavoured raspberry sauce’?
Andreas Schmidl: Just an everyday vivid fantasy. In this case, the desert acts as a cultural symbol for Sweden. A combination of sweet, salty and creamy – which in itself has erotic connotations.
Tempe: You were inspired by the red light districts of places like Frankfurt in Germany and Washington Boulevard in LA. Can you tell us a bit about your perceptions of these places, and their place in culture?
Andreas: For us it’s a place where something perceived as low culture reveals itself as something highly aesthetic and coded. We used the neon signs originally known from pizza parlours or massage studios as backdrop for the runway show. The light itself is very romantic and soothing, it’s a fairytale layer on top of a not-so-fairytale surrounding. The schizophrenic appeal attracts us – also in an art context when you think of the on-off erected penis installations of Bruce Nauman (which could be a sex shop sign as well) or the latex, wire and neon tube works of Keith Sonnier, who also achieves a perversion and sleaziness with his choice of materials.
“It’s about a place where something perceived as low culture reveals itself as something highly aesthetic and coded.”
Tempe: Were there any other cultural touchpoints to do with hustlers and hustler culture that inspired you? Eg. through films, photography, books etc.
Andreas: For the main lookbook, shoot by Jonas Bresnan, we looked at Hustlers by Philip-Lorca diCorcia, the act of voyeurism and moment of loneliness while being watched by someone. But we are also great fans of Bruce LaBruce who also contributed a few text pieces from his latest film The Misandrists.
Regarding the design of the collection, we imagined a hustler boy taking the clothes from his client and walking off, that’s why the jackets were cut too narrow and are named ‘girlfriend’s jacket’ which adds a nice irony.
Tempe: How do you find starting off with a phrase or sentence impacts the creative process for you? Does it present any particular challenges, or make things flow more organically for example?
Andreas: You are instantly part of a scene. It’s almost like writing a film and dressing the characters. The final press text is always based on the story we start designing with.
“The craft of Versace or DSquared2 can be regarded as as intelligent as the accomplishments by Helmut Lang or Jil Sander. Clothes can be sexy.”
Tempe: The accompanying lookbook contrasts to the glam rock hustlers of your show – you invited models to your apartment and had them try on clothes, and the results are really intimate. Are these kind of contrasts and tensions important to LAZOSCHMIDL, to run through all your work? And why?
Andreas: We wanted to highlight that our clothes are not only made for a young Mick Jagger or David Bowie but everyone today who wants to play around with codes and culture and be free about his sexuality. We find the ice blue silk negligee top worn with jeans, sneakers and a bomber jacket highly seductive and can only encourage this look.
Tempe: You have previously spoken about homoeroticism as a key theme in your work. Do you think gay culture is dealt with in fashion and art as transparently as it should be? Why / why not?
Andreas: It might actually not really be represented, more like an unspoken secret between lovers. Labels that celebrate homoerotic clichés are often critisized for being kitsch – and we want to stress the fact that the craft of Versace or DSquared2 can be regarded as as intelligent as the accomplishments by Helmut Lang or Jil Sander. Clothes can be sexy.
Lazoschmidl’s FW17 fanzine is available to buy now at their website. The zine is limited to 100 copies.