Talking to Nicke Bildstein Zaar about Cottweiler’s SS16 show

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Walking into the Oasis Sports Hall last week in London’s busy Holborn during London Men’s collection, the pedestrian nature of the council run sports centre was transformed into Cottweiler’s chosen space to exhibit their latest collection. Rather than adapt to what is prescribed of designers on the Fashion Week schedule, Cottweiler took what was expected of them, and other menswear designers to a whole new level of precision and presentation.

Using the badminton halls, spectators were able to see the three separate rooms from mezzanine level or ground level transformed into contextless spaces for a new found male expression of peace and zen. Mundane interiors were contrasted with sharp uses of light and the sound of chanting. The distinction between sportswear, spirituality and the setting of a show home created a new form of fashion presentation unlike anything else happening in London.

So, to find out more about their impressive collection we spoke to the art director behind the collection, Nicke Bildstein Zaar, about the ideas that he worked with Cottweiler on and how they were invested in the show.

We also commissioned Ryan Skelton to take photographs of their presentation.

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What is it about Cottweiler’s work that you like?
 
For me it’s really about the totemic quality of clothes they design. The garments are familiar, yet depending on your vantage point they can evoke different feelings.
Obviously, there are plenty of examples of groups of people in the last decades who have worn tracksuits and athletic gear for other reasons than to express an interest in sports. To me Cottweiler represents this hybrid symbolism that invokes that certain tension which I feel people can relate to.
Ben & Matt live what they do, and I think that comes across.
 
 
How do you think the Cottweiler man has changed since last season? Who is he?
 
 
Ben & Matt had been looking at those Krishna lads in London’s Soho, and brought in elements of that to this collection, it made it a bit softer, in terms of the fabric choices and cut. But at its core, it revolves around the same values.
 
 

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Could you talk to us about the juxtaposition between the setting of the show being in a sports hall and the art direction centring around show homes and new build?

I was told by a guy I met that the Oasis Sports Centre has a bit of a legacy, there was more than just fitness going on in there, especially in the locker rooms. I like that ambiance, we all create our own temples these days. So when Matt & Ben confirmed the venue it felt kind of perfect, i thought for a second we might change the concept of the scenography but we went for it, carpeted it all up, and installed the vertical blinds and brought in the mail catalogue furniture.

I think these generic show home showrooms are the most nihilistic thing. Completely numbing in their blandness. 

There is this duality to an interior like this, in one way they can inspire feelings of comfort , while at the same time create this sensation of an imposing threat. I always liked this quote by Bill Vaughan showcasing the absurdity of human existence; “Suburbia is where the developer bulldozes out the trees, then names the streets after them.”

I don’t know if young people, at least within the context that I exist, aspire to this, it feels very alien.

Yet I do love the materials and textures you find in these environments.

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How did you separate the looks for this collection?
 
Matt and Ben have a very clear idea of what they are looking for. There is a certain immediacy about the garments that make them very easy to combine with one another, no fuss.
When we edited for the presentation we decided that it would look much stronger if all the guys would be wearing either white or cream, however there’s an entire segment of navy pieces that will also be sold at the showroom. After that it just came down the the personality and the presence of the guys that Mischa Notcutt casted.
 
 
What is the sexuality of this man?
 
I think you can read that in different ways, there are certainly some interpretative codes that come with the territory of young lads in sportswear.
 
Can you you talk to us about the use of Ottoman’s ?
 
In a way it was a continuation of the set up from last season in terms of room composition, every guy on their own podium; monolithic & imposing, Perhaps like Emperor Hadrian’s Antonius on a plinth.

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