Avantgardista’s primary mission, in case you missed all our pre-event coverage, is to present fetish fashion as an acceptably edgy choice for curious fashionistas in this wealthy part of Germany.
But to judge from the conservative dress style evident at the same weekend’s big Space Intruders fetish party, Avantgardista could also play a useful role in broadening the wardrobe horizons of the region’s existing fetish fans.
The three-day weekend was split into four components, kicking off on Friday November 10 with a hotel-based Meet & Greet before Saturday 11’s Showroom daytime designer event and later SubRosaDictum party. The festivities ended with a chill-out gathering on Sunday 12.
The vibe at the Meet & Greet on Friday 10 at partner hotel the Leonardo Royal certainly augured well for Saturday’s main Avantgardista debut event.
The Leonardo is a four-star establishment in the north of Munich, with nicely appointed rooms and all the bells and whistles such as minibar, hot drink-making facilities and free wi-fi.
The room rates were probably beyond the student-level budgets of some of the models working over the weekend, but of course they were still welcome at the M&G, held in the hotel’s public bar. And a respectable number turned up for it.
There was no dresscode for this first evening but as usual with such kick-off gatherings, a proportion of attendees — mostly models — chose to wear latex and other sexy attire.
This naturally attracted some attention from other guests and visitors. But everyone — including the friendly staff — seemed pretty relaxed about this sudden influx of kinksters, and the industry crowd that packed the bar until well after midnight definitely had a lot of fun.
I made some delightful new connections that evening, which is obviously the idea. They included artist Heath Clark — aka Catasta Charisma, collaborator-in-chief with Al and Jeannie of ExxEss Latex — and ExxEss model Mistress Ana from Glasgow.
I hadn’t really expected too many Brits to be there, so it was great to hang out with these two and a few others from Blighty (again mainly modelling for ExxEss) such as the inimitable Princess Almighty.
I was also delighted to reconnect with old friend Asmondena from Hamburg, whom fans of the old Fetishistas site may remember from when she launched her Boombastic Rubber label for fuller-figured women a few years ago.
Asmondena and her companion Vince, who has just started at legendary French wetlook fashion label Patrice Catanzaro, were great company throughout the weekend.
Saturday 11 involved a very early start for the SubRosaDictum team running the Avantgardista debut event, and also for the designers and models involved in the exhibition and fashion shows scheduled for the Showroom.
The Showroom — open for ten hours between 2pm and midnight — was housed in a building in the north of the city called the Kohlebunker.
The Kohlebunker — along with its sister venue the Kesselhaus (Boilerhouse) next door, used for the later party — is located on Lilienthalalee, a street lined by the numerous exhibition halls and brand showrooms of the MOC Conference Centre.
Spared an early start myself, I decided to use Munich’s comprehensive U-Bahn system to get from the hotel to Freimann, the nearest stop to Lilienthalalee, and do the last bit on foot. On my map, it looked very straightforward.
However, unexpectedly long waits for trains followed by a cold, wet walk at the Freimann end took the edge off my adventurous spirit and I resolved to stick to €15 taxi journeys thereafter.
Once inside the Kohlebunker, my first aim was to walk around and photograph the exhibitor stands, which were arranged in open style around three of the four walls, with the runway projecting out into the central space (see gallery pic 7 below).
When I took that shot, there were still a good two hours to go before the start of the fashion shows at 7pm, but people had already filled about two-thirds of the seats on either side of the catwalk. There’s keen for you.
The very first stand I encountered was that of Engineers of Desire, a late entrant from the UK that meant the Avantgardista debut now, at the eleventh hour, included a British brand.
Engineers designer Cas Carpenter had taken seriously the high concept of the Showroom, which was to display a few carefully chosen, show-stopping examples of your work, more in the style of an art gallery than a fetish fair.
The organisers’ aim was obviously to minimise any associations between fetish and tackiness that might exist in the minds of vanilla fashion fans, by presenting everything in a way that was as non-threateningly mainstream as possible.
In that respect the high-ceilinged, brightly lit, spacious interior of this converted industrial structure was undoubtedly an ally.
Not everyone used their space as creatively as Cas. A couple of exhibitors, perhaps unduly cowed by the apparent restrictions on how much stock they could bring/display, only managed to present a few garments hanging on a single rail.
Savage Wear’s Haydee Sparks is in the foreground of my picture, but you can’t tell from it that she was hobbling around on crutches for the entire event. What a trouper!
Meanwhile, among the non-latex exhibitors, strappy accessory label Chiracc Couture’s stand really stood out, with its combination of exotically draped mannequins, well-loaded garment rails and harnessed heads all in a row.
I spent a bit of time hanging out backstage before the shows started, and was able to exchange a few brief words with an extremely busy Peter Czernich, who was operating a backstage photo studio.
I thought sparks might fly when his one-time Marquis America associate Erik von Gutenberg also turned up backstage, as the two did not part on the best of terms. But thankfully the tone of their encounter was relatively civilised.
By the time the fashion shows were due to start at 7.00pm, the catwalk seating was all taken and the space behind it on each side totally rammed.
At the end of the runway was a ‘pit’ for photographers and a plinth for the official video crew. Unfortunately the number of people with photo passes considerably exceeded the space allowed for them, which led to some friction. But this problem should be easy enough to fix for next time.
There were 14 shows in all, split into two sets of seven with a 20-minute interval at half time, and exhibiting the work of 16 designers (two pairs of labels were doubled up).
The first set presented, in order of appearance, Benno von Stein, Inner Sanctum, Fetish Fantaisies, Fernando Berlin, Maniac Latex, Chiracc Couture, and ExxEss Latex.
After the interval, the line-up was Cold Cocaïned Heart with Arcane Accessories, Rubbella with Shitake, GlanzGlück, Chronomatic, Savage Wear, Baal, and Franklin Tavares.
The brands were all individually introduced onstage in German and English by hosts Fräulien Katzentanz and Ian Dutton. The pair kept their announcements as short as possible, but interrupting the flow to do this for each individual show was over-egging the pudding.
The standard of the shows themselves, which varied in number of outfits displayed from around eight to more than 20 (ExxEss Latex again!), was uniformly high.
A total of 119 models took part in this Avantgardista debut event, with most appearing for just one designer, a few doubling up, and Honeyhair somehow managing to walk for no less than three labels!
In all, the catwalk extravaganza was an impressive feat of organisation, with the cumulative duration of all 14 shows over-running by only a few minutes.
The shows finished at around 9pm with a spectacular grand finale in which all the models and designers attempted to crowd onto the catwalk at once. They were rewarded with fervent applause from the audience, but they’ll need a longer catwalk next time!
It appeared that quite a lot of people, like me, took the end of the shows as their cue to leave the Kohlebunker and get some dinner before changing and returning for the Space Intruders party at the Kesselhaus venue next door (which started at 10pm).
The second part of my report will cover Space intruders in words and pictures, as well as adding more pictures from the first half of the weekend.
In the meantime, there’s no doubt in my mind that the Avantgardista concept has legs as a new annual event, with potential to attract substantial international fetish industry participation and an international audience.
Inevitably, though, as with any new event, some elements would benefit from a bit of rethinking.
For example, some of the demands placed on designers’ and models’ time and energy seemed, in retrospect, unnecessarily gruelling.
The 10am start time on Saturday for those involved in the shows seemed to serve no purpose, and one wonders how useful it really was to keep the Showroom open for another three hours after the shows finished.
These long hours meant that many of those involved in the shows and exhibition were too exhausted to enjoy their free entry to the later Space Intruders party. And that’s a shame, as people had been looking forward to letting their hair down after a long day’s work.
All these issues are surely fixable now that the organisers have seen how their scheduling played out in practice. But for this event to become truly international in scope, the high participation cost for designers will also need to be addressed.
High entry fees were were the chief reason that, with one exception, London labels did not support the Avantgardista debut.
I know a number of designers who were interested, and all are used to paying for stand space at fairs and expos (if not necessarily at Avantgardista’s prices).
But paying an event promoter for the privilege of providing a fashion show is a red line most do not see themselves crossing.
Not, at any rate, until there’s solid evidence that Avantgardista can actually deliver the additional customers to make such extra expense worthwhile.
More images from these events and from the SubRosaDictum Space Intruders party coming soon!