Latex is an extraordinary material that has now established itself as a fashion trend. Traditionally, it is considered kinky and is mainly seen in fetish- and club wear. The label Blackstyle Berlin is no exception, but with designer Alexander Michael Arnold, they are taking new creative steps – fetish and fashion have never been mutually exclusive.
@alexander_michael_arnold & @blackstyle_latex
KALTBLUT had a chat with Alexander Michael Arnold, who’s Blackstyle’s head of design, to gain some insight into the development and implementation of his first editorial “A Siren’s Call” for the Berlin underground design label.
KALTBLUT: You have been the designer at Blackstyle for half a year now and recently realised your first editorial for them. Can you tell me a little more about the concept?
Alex: The project initially had the working title “Glossy Nude”. It was inspired by Rebirth and the series Altered Carbon on Netflix. At the beginning of the story, there is a transparent shell, a kind of placenta, from which the main character emerges and experiences his transcendental rebirth. However, the transparency of the material, nude-coloured latex, provided the main inspiration. Due to its clientele, the label sets certain framework conditions. Therefore, it quickly became clear that male models had to be integrated into the project. A female figure, as a muse, was the central part of my vision, though. That is how the basis for the shooting was put together.
KALTBLUT: Latex is a special material. What is it like for you to work almost exclusively with that material in your job?
Alex: When I started working at Blackstyle, it took some time to get used to the material. It is something completely different from working with textiles. When I design, whether it is a custom-made piece or a standardised garment, I have to pay attention to every material-specific factor. Fortunately, I learnt how to handle latex quite quickly. I could also rely on the long-standing expertise of my colleagues.
In particular, the floor-length robe made of nude-coloured latex represents the first milestone of my work for the label. I am now so familiar with the material that I can reproduce my ideas without any restrictions.
KALTBLUT: How challenging was it to establish yourself in the industry after completing training as a fashion designer?
Alex: It was particularly difficult during the height of the pandemic. Now, it is easier to connect with people and move forward with projects. After completing my studies, I first took on individual orders to build up my profile. The job as a permanent employee came later. To be completely honest, humans and the world out there are the foundation for my creative work.
KALTBLUT: You are an artist through and through! Do you see yourself that way too?
Alex: Yes, absolutely. In any direction.
For me, it is particularly about perception: seeing, hearing, feeling, sometimes even tasting, and most importantly, feeling. I process everything and everyone around me. Sometimes, inspiration overwhelms me because I see something in most everyday things that leads me to the next and the next idea. A blank sheet of paper and a pen – even if it’s the ultimate cliché – is usually the best solution to organise me and my thoughts and create something new from them.
KALTBLUT: What does being creative mean to you?
Alex: Completely surrendering to my ideas and the images racing through my head at the moment – regardless of whether a “product” is created in the end.
KALTBLUT: It sounds like you constantly have new ideas. Metaphorically speaking, there is never an ebb with you, but rather a constant flood.
Alex: It’s not always like that either. There are also moments I don’t have any new ideas and that’s okay. Sometimes I have a plan or an idea, but then suddenly completely different ideas come up, and I let them out.
KALTBLUT: There are many stage artists as part of your professional and personal environment. What does it mean to you to work together with friends?
Alex: In itself, it’s the best thing you can do. Trust forms an incredibly enriching foundation. Even if it sounds cheesy: when you can rely on each other, when you know each other, and genuine trust takes hold of a work situation, that has always been a guarantee of success for me so far.
This structure offers everyone involved a freedom and openness that allows for the most beautiful and truthful images of my visions to emerge situationally. If everyone can engage in the creative experiment and surrender to my idea, I have always been more than satisfied with the result. Working in artistic exchange is the type of symbiosis that allows my ideas to grow beyond themselves, and that’s when it becomes really exciting when boundaries are left behind and surprises are produced.
@alexander_michael_arnold & @blackstyle_latex
Photo courtesy by Blackstyle Design: @alexander_michael_arnold
& Denis Watson