Plein Stages Out-of-This-World Fashion Show at Brooklyn Navy Yard

Philipp Plein held his bi-annual fashion show at the Brooklyn Navy Yard on Saturday February 10th 2018 with the show slated to begin at 9PM. Plein, 39, is a German fashion designer who founded the Philipp Plein International Group which includes the Philipp Plein, Plein Sport and Billionaire Couture Brands. He has 80 stores around the world with plans to add 30 more globally over the next five years. Plein has homes in Cannes, Lugano and Manhattan and continues to sell his brand briskly in Moscow, Miami and Macau.


As veteran designers continue to go out of business due to a shrinking luxury market, the fashion world is perplexed as to how this phenom continues to thrive. This is Philipp’s third time showing in New York and judging by his last two shows I was sure this would be an epic extravaganza. In February 2017 he took over the New York Public Library and had attendees Madonna and Kylie Jenner watching rappers Fetty Wap and Young Thug on the runway as former felon-turned-model Jeremy Meeks strutted by. The 2017 after party at the New York Public Library was replete with toy cars as Grandmaster Flash spun tunes and hundreds of models partied until after midnight.


In an age where most designers have been downsizing, Plein flouts convention as he pours millions of dollars into his shows in both New York and Europe. Alexander Wang, the darling of the fashion world who usually astounds the fashion crowd by taking over a Pier in New York City and providing top notch entertainment, chose to hold his last New York fashion week show this past Saturday at a work cubicle in Times Square. The dismal locale was in sharp contrast to previous years and the A-list crowd including Cardi B, Anna Wintour and Bella Hadid looked none too pleased at the less than optimal lighting. Also missing was Wang’s massive dance after party where celebrities and downtown hipsters gather with abandon. Tom Ford similarly skipped an elaborate after party for a small cocktail party the day after his Park Avenue Armory show.


In an age where companies refuse to spend millions on one night for a dubious financial return Plein continues to be a breath of fresh air and a bit of a rebel. Plein is the master of hype and his collaboration with Floyd Mayweather, who wore a Plein getup to his summer match against Conor McGregor, is a perfect fit as the two enjoy profligate spending and endless self promotion. Plein who boasts 978,000 Instagram followers has been touting his show as the one “that will make history” with the biggest fashion show New York has ever seen with “New York never being the same again.” His hyperbolic words left me anxiously anticipating this spectacle wondering if in fact New York might never be the same.

One thing that is certain is my Stuart Weitzman boots will never recover as they were drenched in rain as I walked the endless trek to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The 1,500 person crowd waited in the pouring rain to gain entrance to a massive warehouse whose floors were covered in snow while tin foil rocks and a massive UFO were displayed onstage. As I entered the edifice there were a group of Bugattis parked nearby with the Plein logo on the outside. This man is irreverent, vulgar and brilliant. Guests were allowed to head backstage through a cave before the show where you could watch models preparing for the big event. While I spotted Jonathan Cheban, Kate Upton and some other models in the front row the massive star power of previous years was absent.


The show which was more than an hour late began with a flurry of snow falling from the sky that blanketed my hair, phone and sweater. I wondered what the flakes were made of and whether they might stain my new denim shirt or destroy my already soaked boots. As my hair gathered what looked like large pieces of dandruff, a massive snowmobile came roaring out of the cave with two motorcyclists wearing Philipp Plein gear shooting blanks. This was straight out of the first scene of the movie “True Lies” and I was looking to see if Arnold Schwarzenegger was anywhere nearby. The motorcyclists donning Plein jumpsuits and sneakers welcomed rap group Migos to the stage. I was covering my ears as the loud sounds were jolting. When they exited the stage I felt a strange sense of relief as the assault on my senses subsided. That is until a robot emerged wearing Plein attire and a massive UFO descended from the ceiling further destroying my eardrums as supermodel and Brad Cooper baby mama Irina Shayk walked down the runway to the tune of Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” while holding the robots hand. I didn’t understand the point of a robot, a UFO and snowmobiles – was I missing an important message that Plein was trying to relay.


Was he providing false hope to the male population that you don’t have to be Brad Cooper to get a supermodel – a Plein robot would also suffice. Or was this just Plein saying hey the budget for this show was stratospheric so I thought I would bring in some otherworldly elements. After all the hoopla, I was waiting for the clothing which were mostly skiwear and were pretty fantastic and over-the-top. The models ranged from the celebrity offspring of Snoop Dogg and Puff Daddy to stars Halima Aden, Hannah Ferguson and Alton Mason. There were men in masks, a guy with prosthetic legs jumping around, and an array of shorter than usual models floating around the stage. They all looked sensational in the silver, black and pink puffy Plein attire. The Playboy hoodies and pajamas worn by the men were puzzling- perhaps paying homage to showman Hugh Heffner. The playful animal knapsacks and clutches were a nice creative touch.


The silver sequined boots on the models were screaming Saint Laurent. This copycat move didn’t surprise me as Plein has been known to knock off other people’s images; recently being banned from selling clothes in Germany with tigers because they resembled Puma too closely. Plein has never been known for originality introducing skull branded leatherwear and sequins to a fashion crowd that had been saturated with these images way before Plein. Yet, wearing Plein attire adds that extra element of daring that says hey I love fashion, I don’t want to disappear and I’m willing to spend big bucks on clothing. Plein who began as a furniture designer said in a recent interview, “the few people in this industry who are still powerful in this industry are like dinosaurs. Editors like Anna Wintour, they’re a dying species.” I wonder if his next show will feature a Tyrannosaurus wearing a Plein coat – now that would be a game changer.

– Lieba Nesis

Lieba Nesis

My love of fashion, writing and photography were something that always dominated my lifestyle however it wasn't until I was approached by the editor of Lookonline that I realized I could utilize these three skills in combination.

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