Techno Mermaid. Ottolinger SS23

Ottolinger designers Christa Bösch and Cosima Gadient opened their spring-summer 2023 fashion show with a sharp look: a deconstructed belt–meets–bra top whose straps covered the nipples and little else, paired with low-slung leather-look trousers made from recycled polyester. Gen Z’s love of near nudity knows no bounds, and the fan base that lounged on the show venue’s mattress seats wearing skin-baring looks from the Berlin-based label would think nothing of wearing a crop top to talk shop. The designers recently launched a pre-collection that they said had allowed them to tackle more conceptual ideas in their runway shows. No longer beholden to showing denim and mesh dresses, which are their big commercial hits, this freed them up to present deconstructed biker jackets and skintight bodysuits. Ironically, though, the strongest pieces were arguably the most commercial, especially the dresses that draped and hugged the body with some rubbery-looking embellishments. Dipping items in rubber is a trait that reads recognizably Ottolinger: The punked-up court shoes, which saw a classic pump wrapped in a futuristic rubber-like casing, were as covetable as the diamanté jewelry dipped in brightly colored rubber that currently sells well on the label’s website. They’d do well to continue hammering home those codes as the Y2K trend keeps rolling and numerous other labels look to replicate their success with the sexy and the skintight.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Rule The World. Ottolinger AW22

Christa Bösch and Cosima Gadient’s autumn-winter 2022 Ottolinger collection challenges what prettiness or functionality mean in our digital age. This season, they continue with themes begun during the pandemic: bulbous, hefty knotted tops; long, trailing flare trousers with tons of stretch; and chunky outerwear either cropped or belted with a shearling rope at the waist. The shapes almost look virtual, rejecting the natural laws of gravity or glamour. Finding new ways to take up space, now modes of projecting the body, is the duo’s stated mission with their fall line. There’s enough clingy body-con stuff out there already; enough sexy and seductive. The designers have tapped into a new aesthetic that is more organic, bordering on biological. And they have worked for two years to perfect their language of lumpy, bumpy bad gals, partnering with a women’s collective of hand knitters for a white cardigan and bringing on new knitwear production to make filmy post-apocalyptic layers. It’s not all fashion for philosophy’s sake: the designers have also introduced their first bag “that can actually hold something!” said Gadient with a laugh before the show, demonstrating the use of their new slimy shoulder bag, large enough for a phone, wallet, and maybe even a Nintendo Switch. The show was held at an Esports Arena in Paris, where guests watched a video on personal monitors before the models came out, and heard for the first time Azealia Banks’ latest banger, “Rule The World“. In addition to pushing their garments to a steady, intriguing place, Bösch and Gadient also contribute to play in the digital world. It’s a smart move and they will surely be among the first to define the new aesthetic language of Web3 and beyond.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.