For his first collaboration with another brand, up-and-coming Spanish menswear designer Archie Alled-Martinez can’t believe his luck that it’s with Karl Lagerfeld, a designer pivotal in sparking his passion for fashion in the Aughts.
“I just share his vision or his way of seeing clothing, or clothes-making, I suppose,” he mused, mentioning the late German designer‘s high standards of creativity and craftsmanship, plus his respect for the industry. “It was really magic to be given the opportunity to sort of continue his legacy in a way.”
Alled-Martinez interpreted Lagerfeld’s brand essence and aesthetic codes through a queer lens for the capsule collection that debuts on Farfetch.com on Tuesday, landing the following day on karl.com, Zalando.com and select Karl Lagerfeld stores. While not billed as a Pride Month initiative, the collection includes shrunken T-shirts declaring “Fluidity,” tight candy-apple red flares and sparkly knee shorts for guys and gals.
The Karl Lagerfeld brand will also give over its entire store on Rue Vieille du Temple in the Marais district to the Alled-Martinez project, which includes footwear and accessories. DJ sets will heighten the party atmosphere of the one-month takeover in a neighborhood flush with LGBTQ bars and businesses. The WOW concept store in Madrid will also stock the capsule, created for the pre-fall 2022 season.
In an exclusive interview, Alled-Martinez singled out irreverence and daring as key attributes of the clothes, which expose midriffs, hug curves and blur gender lines with such items as long kilts — a wink to one Lagerfeld wore to take his bow in 2004 when Chanel staged a fashion show in Tokyo.
“The deep message of the collection is about standing for authenticity, and being your true selves,” he explained, his English accent as thick as a London native. “I think the daringness is not giving a toss about how people are going to react to something. It’s an attitude.”
Lagerfeld skirted questions about sexuality and his personal life, if anyone dared ask, preferring to extol about his fashion, photography, film and publishing projects. His support for gay rights was expressed subliminally, but powerfully and presciently, such as in 2013 when at the conclusion of Chanel’s summer couture show, he sent out two brides holding hands.
By contrast, Alled-Martinez identifies himself as a queer designer. For his spring 2021 signature collection, he photographed scantily clad men in a gay cruising spot near Barcelona. His initial focus on tailored knitwear has yielded recently to extremely low-rise cargo pants, skimpy T-shirts and fashion videos exalting young lust.
“I consider myself an advocate,” he said. “Nowadays, you really have to have a message. I feel that in our industry it’s our duty to have a voice, you know, to represent something, to stand for something.”
He described Lagerfeld’s graphic and somewhat exaggerated personal style, which hinged on dark suits, white shirts with high collars, dark sunglasses and dollops of sparkle, as camp and flamboyant, though “I didn’t want to fall into cliches.”
Instead, he produced such looks as a Lurex jersey suit, driving gloves with full fingers, and a white polo shirt that zips up to the Adam’s apple. The late designer’s lucky number seven appears on a bowling-style handbag and an athletic jersey.
Alled-Martinez was so energized by the design project that he presented about 100 looks to the Lagerfeld team, ultimately whittling it down to 47 skus, far more than the 20 requested.
The young designer worked in tandem with Karl Lagerfeld design director Hun Kim, who lauded that “Archie doesn’t fabricate anything: He designs what he believes in and what he loves.…It’s authentic and true to both brands’ identities.”
For his part, Alled-Martiez confessed that “having to direct such a big project was thrilling. The team made it really, really easy. It was immaculate.”
Carine Roitfeld, style adviser at the Karl Lagerfeld brand, proposed Alled-Martinez for the project after discovering his designs when he was short-listed for the 2020 LVMH Fashion Prize for Young Designers.
“It was a lot about jersey, very fitted, and I thought immediately it was something Karl would have loved, because he loved tailored jackets in jersey,” Roitfeld related. “Also, Karl liked to do things he never did before and this collection was totally no-gender. We really pushed this idea very far in the campaign images.
“I love the idea of a sexy boy and girl in the same outfit. It’s very young, too,” she enthused. “It’s very wearable for the new generations.”
Alled-Martinez said the fashion shoots and shows Roitfeld styled — what came to be known as “porn chic” — had a big impact on him as a tween and teen, and fed the sexual undercurrent of his campaign and look book shoots.
Roitfeld’s name appears on a T-shirt in the new capsule. Ditto for Sébastien Jondeau, Lagerfeld’s longtime bodyguard and personal secretary, now a product consultant and ambassador for the brand’s menswear.
Alled-Martinez called the name shirts an homage to Lagerfeld’s entourage, key to his creative process, and an echo of his own devotion to his community of followers. For those who can’t decide between Roitfeld or Jondeau, there’s a “Team Karl” slogan.
The Alled-Martinez project follows a collaboration with Kenneth Ize, another buzzy designer who characterizes his label as gender neutral, and precedes one next September with model, actress and advocate Cara Delevingne focused on “inclusive, gender-neutral pieces.”
The Karl Lagerfeld brand introduced a unisex capsule with its spring 2021, with the company explaining that the late founder’s personal style, hinged on white shirts and dark tailoring, lends itself to both genders and is in tune with the current zeitgeist.
Barcelona-born Alled-Martinez is a master’s graduate in fashion knitwear from London’s Central Saint Martins. He moved to Paris in 2018 as his graduate prize included a one-year placement at Givenchy.
He launched his signature label for the spring 2020 season and is readying his spring 2023 collection, which tackles “the figure of the metrosexual” and will be unveiled on June 26 during Paris Fashion Week.
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