Berlin is a city that has worn many hats, from thriving art hub to rave club capital. The capital remains perhaps equally infamous for its risqué nature, meaning all sorts of activity is taking place from dance floors to theatre stages, be it S&M or burlesque. As intriguing as that all sounds, I am far more tempted by the fashion trends this erotica has inspired both locally and globally.
At first, Don’t Shoot The Messengers appears very much like a sex shop, especially considering how cunningly its initials DSTM resemble BDSM. However, the trendy Zehdenicker Straße fashion boutique is the brainchild of Berlin-based Canadian designer Jen Gilpin, who has been producing highly seductive yet wearable ready-to-wear collections predominantly in black leathers, silks and splashes of PVC.
London-based, Russian-born Ilya Fleet originally trained in traditional horse saddle-making before establishing eponymous label Fleet Ilya. The brand quickly gained notoriety for its intricate leather harnesses, masks and collars — which are perhaps more appropriate in a Lady Gaga music video than for your weekly grocery shopping (not coincidentally RiRi is a big fan). Fleet has since expanded the line to include stunning belts, cuffs and clutches, again all crafted from gorgeous cuts of leather.
Stateside, Zana Bayne has been doing her bit to keep the raunchiness alive in New York fashion circles. The Seattle native now runs an atelier in the Big Apple, by way of Berlin — no doubt an inspiration to her style. The designer’s many collaborations with Prabal Gurung have spurred a frenzy for her white, black and red leather belts and straps, so much so that various Zana Bayne pieces are to be seen at the upcoming Met exhibition at the Costume Institute, “PUNK: Chaos to Couture.”
Whereas Agent Provocateur might cater nicely to one’s behind-closed-door needs, these designers are sure to pack a lusty punch for any urbanite’s daily wardrobe.