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Michalsky Rocks Berlin's City Hall

Godfrey Deeny
January 26th, 2007 @ 00:36 AM - Berlin

Rarely has a designer been given a more exalted locale for his debut than Michael Michalsky who unveiled his first signature collection Thursday night in the Rathaus. It was the first ever fashion show in the Rathaus, or Redhouse, the city hall of Berlin, from whose steps JFK famously announced he was a Berliner in 1963.

With Berlin current mayor Klaus Wowereit sitting front row, Michalsky, who first garnered fame as the adidas creative end of the Yohji Yamamoto Y-3 partnership, won a two-minute ovation at the end of a slick demonstration of punchy, urban, Teutonic sportswear.

By sportswear we mean the American department store sense of the term, and nothing to do with active sports. Instead, this clobber was ideal for the peripatetic nocturnal peregrinations of urban hipsters that Michalsky frequents and admires.

“It’s my homage to Berlin and inspired by Anita Berber,” enthused the designer. Berber, a1920s beauty known for exotic dance styles and multiple lovers, guy and girl, cut a swathe through Weimar Berlin, the arty and decadent era chronicled by Christopher Isherwood, who did his writing in a guesthouse at nearby Nollendorfstrasse. The Schonberg neighborhood where Rathaus is located was also were David Bowie and Iggy Pop made their homes in Berlin.

Underneath a giant oil featuring dignitaries attending the 1878 Congress of Berlin but in an otherwise high-tech white box worthy of Calvin Klein, Michalsky boomed off the show with the petit German beauty Luca Gajdus in sculpted wool jacket. The designer used elements of men’s fabrics like felt-wool and tuxedo silk, in both the men’s and women’s clothing – some 40% of the 47 looks were menswear.

“It was very professional. We’ve finally found a successor to Jil Sander and Helmut Lang,” opined Wolfgang Joop, this city’s most famous resident designer, referring to Jil Sander and Helmut Lang, two master German designers who have both effectively retired.

Cutaway tuxedos, mannish white cotton shirts buttoned entirely at the back and hooded cable sweaters for working gals in daytime and slinky bitch goddess black pearl silk columns for the ladies of the night. Accessorized with lacy bowler hats, long leather gloves, excellent men’s brogues from Ludwig Reiter of Austria and smart looking briefcases courtesy of Schuchard & Friese, it made for a strong modern statement.

For groover guys, there were wool bombers in hyper-sized hounds tooth, some well-cut slim suits and zippered cardigans with an austere M logo.

The crowd clearly loved the action, though Michalsky, who took an extended tour of the runway, will have to sharpen his design chops a notch or two if he wants to take this show to a Paris or New York catwalk. But, though not quite a home run, he definitely got to first base, make that second.

Since quitting adidas Michalsky has not let grass under his feet. He’s the creative director of MCM, Germany’s equivalent of Louis Vuitton, and busy churning out a collection for the giant German retailer Tchibo.

“When Michael first talked about doing a show in Berlin, my immediate reaction was, ‘why don’t you come to my house?’ Berlin was a great center of fashion in the Twenties. It can be again. It has a voice in sportswear and club clothes that needs to be heard,” Mayor Wowereit told FWD, after enjoying a delicious white parmesan soup with crabmeat and local beef filet at a relaxed dinner party for 50 post show, to which guests were ferried in an Audi A8 fleet, courtesy of a main sponsor.

Last seen Michalsky was dancing hard at his all night open-bar “after” at hipster Alexanderplatz club Weekend, whose invitation was an image of Berber doing her famed corseted “cocaine” dance.

Isherwood, Iggy and Ziggy would have approved.

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