Paris. Hong Kong. Berlin. Following its September 2014 appearance in Paris on Dries Van Noten’s runway during Fashion Week, and then at Art Basel Hong Kong (in cooperation with Joyce) this March, the runner that Argentinian artist and rug-maker Alexandra Kehayoglou created for the designer’s spring/summer 2015 show will unroll in Berlin during Gallery Weekend this weekend. If Van Noten had had his way, there would also have been a Tokyo stopover in between, but his vision of placing more than 150 handcrafted feet of mossy carpet smack in the middle of a Tokyo street failed to get permission from the authorities.
Not so the use of Kaufhaus Hertzog, or the last remaining wing of what was once Berlin’s oldest and one of its largest department stores dating back to 1839. In cooperation with Berlin concept store pioneer Andreas Murkudis, the rug will be stretched to its full length from Friday to Sunday in the somewhat ramshackle interior of this landmark building. Nestled in the heart of the old city center, a rather forgotten and sleepy corner today, the 1909 façade was restored by the East German government in the 1960’s but the building has stood empty since 1990.
As in Hong Kong, guests will be allowed to walk on the carpet five minutes an hour, but for the remaining 55 minutes, the rule is stay off! “When people come in, I want them to see the carpet emtpy and to be able to experience it fully,” Van Noten explained. Following a cocktail reception with Van Noten and Murkudis Friday evening, there will be a “private concert” by Belgian alternative pop band Oscar and the Wolf, who also did the soundtrack for the designer’s spring/summer 2015 show.
As for the carpet itself, Van Noten had originally wanted to have the models in his spring/summer show traversing a carpet of real moss. “When we started talking about the collection and the show, I knew I wanted to have them walking in a different way. But when we did a trial on real moss, we realized it would have been ruined in a flash.” So the designer Googled “fake moss” and thus found Kehayoglou, the third generation of a Greek rug-making family which is now one of South America’s largest carpet producers. The show was coming up fast, and Kehayoglou “worked day and night” for more than two weeks to create Van Noten’s mossy expanse. It turned out “far more poetical,” he finds, than the real thing would have been.
Art enthusiast though he is, this is the designer’s first time attending Berlin Gallery Weekend. He’ll be here for three days, but other than knowing he’s slated to visit some studios, galleries and museums, the details are hazy. “Right now, people are setting it all up, but usually I don’t manage to look at the program till I’m on the plane,” he said earlier this week. ”Honestly, being a fashion designer is a demanding job,” he told WWD. “Having a season’s sabbatical would be my wildest dream.”