The spirit of 1953 made a pit stop in Berlin last week, courtesy of Levi’s Vintage Clothing. The retro-denim specialists’ traveling exhibition, a tribute to the hot rod and the culture associated with it, pulled into denim-focused retailer 14 oz. on Friday night to deliver a glimpse of a time when reconditioned roadsters were all the rage and distressed denim a by-product of wear rather than production.
On display were original images from Life magazine showing the rise of the drag race, a short film looking at the day of the drag strip by artist Aaron Rose and a look at the era’s do-it-yourself aesthetic, which promoted customization of cars and clothing. Created especially for the display were a pair of showpiece pants with a battered leather pocket and a vest with Jalopy embroidery and leather trim. A reproduction of a 1957 Fender electric guitar was also on display, antiqued to give it the same look of gritty wear-and-tear.
A vitrine showed 35 custom-made airbrushed sweatshirts by Von Franco, which will be sold in select boutiques after the exhibition has finished its tour. The homage to hot rod is designed to coincide with Levi’s Vintage Clothing’s spring line of archive-influenced looks including jeans, bomber jackets and fitted ringer T-shirts printed with stars or stripes — classic Americana with an edge.
Martin White, European sales director for Levi’s, described Levi’s Vintage Clothing as “reissues” rather than “reproductions” of the brand’s classic looks. The next exhibition will be centered around Detroit 1964 with a focus on early Motown.
With jeans priced at $250 in the U.S., and 249 euros, or about $323 at current exchange, in Europe, the line is selling authenticity to an aware audience. “We let consumers make up their own minds. A lot of denim companies tend to preach a bit,” White explained. His view is that Levi’s has been seen as a blank canvas for creativity and subculture, evident in the customizing craze of the hot rod era currently under the merchandising microscope.
Along with London, Paris, Stockholm and Milan, Berlin is one of Levi’s five European hubs. With progress in Russia, he’s hoping to see Eastern Europe gain traction, too.
The exhibit has already hit Los Angeles, Brooklyn, N.Y., and London and will remain parked in Berlin at 14 oz. until April 6 before heading to the finish line in Tokyo.
Levi’s Vintage Clothing will be back in town this summer for Berlin’s Bread & Butter trade show, exhibiting in the Lock section.
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“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia