Bernhard Willhelm (Jan, 2006)
Boiler: You have graduated at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. How relevant this experience has been to your perception of style and design?
Bernhard Willhelm: They told me we do not make clothes here we make fashion. This is still a mystery to me.
B: You adopt the little Antwerp's mythological hand as your label? Do you feel a certain belonging to the Belgian fashion scene although you were born in Germany?
BW: The shape of the label is the shape of my favourite (Sheriff) monkeytoy. The hand is also symbol of Antwerp, where I live and work. It’s a good link.
B: Your graduation collection was an ode to Little Red Riding Hood. Do you often refer to fairy tales and folk stories of your native Bavaria?
BW: Sometimes, I guess I like them.
B: What type of experience was to work with Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen?
BW: Everyone of them has a completely different way of working. Both of them were very passionate about their work. The funny thing is that they can’t stand each other…
B: The latest soundtrack of your catwalk in Paris was the daily news from a German TV Station. How important for your work is the media noise and feedback?
BW: The idea of the show was “reality is touching the image”. The soundtrack was the 8 o’clock news of that day. It created a surrealistic atmosphere, it was like an Eisenstein’s movie. Slaughterhouse together with a love scene.
B: You tend to use many icons which are normally found in a child or adolescent realm: Dinosaurs, AC/DC, Dog-skeletons, Monkeys, Angels and cartoonish missiles! Is there any specific reason why you like to play with the meaning and the aesthetics of such icons?
BW: I attend to connect an image already made in your head to connect with my own ideal of an image. It would be a shame if nothing nice would come out of that.
B: You often use embroidery with keys, belts and chains. Why?
BW: They are symbols of connecting things like a friendship/marriage. The key to my heart…
B: In March 2001 you have had a show at Paris’ Legendary Moulin Rouge. Your show included tribes of nomads that wore long, striped overcoats, monastic dresses, twisted tops and kimono-style jackets. Is the tribal element still crucial to your design?
BW: I find tribes and folklore very interesting. It’s the idea of a group of people connecting each other with a typical costume. That can be so touching, my favourite at the moment is Tirol and Hungary…
B: You have recently curated Nr B magazine for Gerdi Esch. You have interviewed artists and contributed to a very eclectic layout. Is this experience something which you will repeat on some level in the foreseeable future?
BW: At the moment we are busy organising things for different exhibitions. No editorial work in sight and the holiday is near!
B: And finally we wish to ask you something we also asked to François Berthoud. The symbiosis between art and fashion seems to be a natural process in your work. Do you think that the time is ripe to reconsider the relationship between fashion and art?
BW: I hate arty questions and you are not getting an answer on that!