Kai Kühne

Adriano Sack talks to Kai Kühne

Kai Kühne: Here is a picture of the Ennis House that Frank Lloyd Wright built in Los Angeles. I’m shooting my campaign there tomorrow. The location was used in „Blade Runner.“ When you go to Falling Water it’s so classical-modernist, but in Ennis House you realize that this guy knew about the early landing points of extraterrestial intelligence. But Im not supposed to talk about this, because I’m not ...what’s his name: Pierre Cardin?

Paco Rabbane.
We met in Milan and had a wonderful conversation...

About Frank Lloyd Wright?
He had a retrospective exhibition six years ago with DIY dresses at Corso Como. I don’t think he’s more crazy than other designers, just that they‘re more tightly controlled by their PR people.

I watched the Marc Jacobs documentary last night and it was so depressing. Especially after seeing the Valentino movie. 
That was such a personal movie. Well edited, but the emotions shine through in every minute. Like me being obsessed with my dog. I was just in Vienna for the Life Ball. Since I did not take my dog I would talk to all the dogs on the street. And all these teutonic owners would call me off: „Das ist mein Hund!“ We stayed at the Imperial, where Bill Clinton was staying as well.

What did he wear for the Life Ball?
I think just a tuxedo. But the next day I saw him in the most intense light lime green suit with a peach shirt. He looked like he was on his way to a very fun event in Palm Springs. I complimented him on his outfit in the lobby. He seemed pleased.  I really enjoyed the architecture, the details, the ornaments in Vienna. After the life ball I just walked the streets. The next morning I attended a service in the Dom.

Are you catholic?
No. But I do believe in God.

What’s your favourite church to hang out in?
I enjoyed the Berliner Dom the day after the tsunami: We had a great show. And I actually really like the Michel in Hamburg. There is something special about this nordic, German baroque: symmetrical, clean, crisp. I like oxymorons. Intricate simplicity is what I like to say about my own work.
So how did you find the Ennis House?

I knew about it for a long time. When I came to New York, after modelling, I studied design, art history and interior design. Frank Lloyd Wright was one of my assignments. I think the whole design of the city in „Blade Runner“ is based on this house.

Why does it fit to your aesthetic?
And this season? Again: intricate simplicity.

Don’t ride it to death!

Well, I have to put my stamp on it (laughs). Originally I wanted to shoot at Rockefeller Center. The inspiration for this season came from the movie „Metropolis.“ Women shot from below. The urban nightmare of concrete but in a very modernist, organized way. The Ennis House embodies the same architectural grandness and both refer to very ancient, vaguely Egyptian forms. Classic modernism was the last time in history when the world moved with the advancements of technology in perfect accordance: art, architecture, science, fashion. This fascinates me and influences my work. I want to take the traditional craft of clothes-making and transform it into something futuristic.

Last season one of your offical muses was the artist Rita Ackermann. Is she the women you have in mind when you design or just a person that inspires you?
I don’t have one specific woman in mind but some sort of an Überwoman. It’s myself plus...

Plus whatever I admire in women. Some comes from my mother. I’ve been in Manhattan long enough and am Woody-Allen-ish enough to admit that my mother is a major influence.

We met 17 years ago at a club called Front in Hamburg. How have you changed since then?
I changed my perfume. I used to wear „Patchouli Reminiscence“ for a long time. Now I wear a mix from Comme des Garcons No. 2 and something called Escentric Molecules, an English brand. You don’t really smell it, but it makes you attractive to people. I also scent my shows with it. That’s why the reviews have been so good lately.   It works like ecstasy.

What is German in your work?
I don’t want to limit German to certain qualities or cliches. My clothes are very punctual, always on time. Or a little too early. There is a certain strictness. Organization. Concentration.

Explain one of the key pieces you are showing in Berlin.
Take this dress. It is based on an image by the Italian architect firm Superstudio. A gigantic construction imposed on downtown New York - the white attack on Manhattan. I used to laugh about art as a reference for fashion. But now I think it is a question of how intelligently you do it. The dress interprets the Superstudio image in a very different way. Not copying it but applying the same underlying idea.

The image looks like an attack on Wall Street. Are you responding to your own fantasies or to what’s going on in the world?
 I am referential but not literal. I am not making any direct comment on or translation of the financial market meltdown but I guess I react to it in a more subtle way. Or I anticipate it. Now it gets a little freaky: Long before we learned about the economic disaster we’ve found ourselves in right now, I was working on some sort of postapocalyptic look. The chic lady after the breakdown. The glamourous survivor with burnt down hair. In Berlin the styling will be much lighter and colorful. Heavily influenced by that old documentary about Issac Mizrahi: „Unzipped“ - the girls are happy, healthy, smiling, bouncing around. Look at this (pulls out the pistil of a white lily): this green will be the nails, and the lips will be in this orange-y curry.

Who owns Kai Kuehne?
Me. 100 %.

How are you doing on the German market?
We‘re in a couple of key stores but definitely potential of growth. That’s why I‘m coming to Berlin.

What music are you going to play at your show?
We‘re still working on it. I want to use house from that period when it became pretty acid-y shortly before it fell apart into very deep house and into tragic techno. It was very white house. I suffered through that period because I felt that something was dying.

Old things have to die, right?
But there is nothing wrong with a tear. Don’t give me a pill, let me enjoy my Melancholie.   ◊

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