For the first time since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Benjamin Huseby and Serhat Isik were back on the runway in Paris with their GmbH collection.
Though the semi-outdoor venue had just been doused with rain, the sense of excitement was palpable, with guests including fellow designer Stefano Pilati, model Jourdan Dunn and drag queen Aquaria in attendance. “This is the place where we started everything,” Isik said backstage.
Their creations are personal and political, rooted in the experience of growing up gay, Muslim and across cultures. (Isik is Turkish German and Huseby is Pakistani Norwegian.) As their Berlin-based label has grown, it has become more refined and they now do double duty at Italian brand Trussardi.
GmbH’s coed spring collection was inspired by the healing properties of water and paid tribute to South Asian culture with sarong-like skirts in satiny fabrics, which came as matching sets with shirts in a floral fil coupé lamé, or paired with boxy suit jackets — and sandals made in collaboration with Scholl.
The other key silhouettes revolved around shorts, featuring details like industrial zippers or apron pockets. Denim cut-offs were paired with open-collared shirts, while black leather or glossy vinyl versions were flamboyantly matched with businesslike shirts and ties, and chubby fake fur boas or coats.
Prints included an Arabic calligraphy pattern designed with Syrian artist Abdelrazak Shaballot, which appeared on items including jeans, as well as draped and knotted dresses with cutaway midriffs. Indonesian artist Muhammad “Rofi” Fatchurofi contributed the aquatic-themed prints featured on baby blue T-shirts.
Though the collection was initially due to be presented on the men’s calendar in June, Huseby and Isik used their show notes to draw attention to the emergency in Pakistan, where floods have displaced an estimated 33 million people.
“Pakistan is the fifth-biggest cotton producer in the world, but the fashion world has remained silent,” they noted.
Moving their show to the women’s schedule highlighted the collection’s truly gender-fluid nature. Without making a big statement about it, they showed similar outfits on a diverse cast, including Raya Martigny and Richie Shazam. (Martigny is transgender; Shazam nonbinary.)
“In many ways a lot of things have fallen into place for us with this collection,” Isik said. “We always reference our heritage in a way that we want to continue decolonizing our minds and celebrate our backgrounds.” No doubt, where they go, others will follow.