Today we present you the young Austrian designer Mark Stephen Baigent and his new collection Kahani. The former member of the award winning designer-duo “Mark & Julia” is now designing under his name Mark Baigent. He is known for minimalistic, geometric shapes and timeless cuts with gender equal silhouettes.
We visited him in Vienna during Vienna Fashion Week and had a big Schnitzel and little chat with him about fashion, style and more important things that happen right now in Vienna and in his life.
See the new Look Book and read our interview with the designer. If you are Paris the next days – go and visit him at his Showroom at VOID Showroon 8rue de Belleyme 3.-7.10 2015.
KALTBLUT: You showed at Vienna Fashion Week and ended with a political statement, tell us about it!
MARK: Since several months now central Europe is experiencing a huge increase of immigrants fleeing their home countries because of war. These Women, Children and Men have lost everything and are trying to build a new life here in Europe. The Governments of Hungary, Austria and Germany simply don’t do enough to help these people. Hungary locks them up in cages and beats down on children just to present them to cross boarders. It is time for us as People, as Designers, as Artists to wake up and use our channels and the media to end this suffering for those people! We call ourselfs artists. Art should reflect, reinforce, critizise and most of all help. Not one designer thought of the necessity to do as such. At the fashion week tent in Vienna we had several people walking around trying to sell a “Flair Magazine” subscription.
Would it have been to hard to also collect donations for the hundreds of refugees waiting at the trainstations? Instead the host comments about how fabulous and expensive the garments are and to celebrate our selves for our hard work. Designers preach about love and equality but throw Dollar bills on the catwalk. Walking down the runway showing your genitalia or initiating a straight”romantic” kiss between a homosexual man and a straight women. Self-aggrandizement is obviously more important to the Designers of Vienna. People get your head out of your own asses and start seeing art as your voice to CHANGE something! Its NOT about YOU it´s about all of US!
KALTBLUT: You like to combine fashion with art and performances, is this another layer to design?
MARK: I feel that an Art Performance is the right way to reflect what i feel when i create a collection. A classic catwalk show back and forth is tiring to me and also disgusts me in a way. My Design and my Art are about the Human being itself, about their personality, about what they think and how they act. I can not fit my vision and dreams in a box defined by seasons and the official Fashion industry calendar.
KALTBLUT: You started as a team, as MARK AND JULIA, now its only you, is it easier to work alone?
MARK: Working with Julia was a great experience and in some way a “school” that taught me a lot and let me do mistakes.With MARK BAIGENT I am taking on a different more extreme direction. I lost a lot of my costumers which where used to the style which M&J had but i have a new vision of what i want to do,So i would say it is not easier, its more work. But its my signature and 100% of me so that makes up for it and lets me enjoy it even more.
KALTBLUT: What inspires you? And what was the inspiration for the new Collection Kahani?
MARK: Everything. Mostly people. I hate this question.
The Collection for Spring/Summer is called KAHANI which in Hindi for Story. Each look is inspired by a character from ancient indian tales and stories, they are my interpretation of what the warriors, gods and creatures must would look like. Like in every collection of mine one look is named after people who were dear to me this season which would be the photographer and artist David Meran.
KALTBLUT: How do you define your style? And what is style for you?
MARK: The style of MARK BAIGENT is defined by wide silhouettes and pieces that are worn by the owner and not the other way around. Wearable Avantgarde in two words. Style for me is expressing who you are, who your inner Man/Women/Etc is. you can express style through clothing but also through a lot of other things. A very important factor for me to find someone “Stylish” is their character. You can look like a crazy club kid but if your character is like a piece of dry wood you will never have style in my eyes.
KALTBLUT: Why do you think a man in a skirt, or dress is still shocking for some people (specially in Vienna)?
MARK: Because it falls out of the norm. Its something people forgot about and now (at least in the western world) is considered as abnormal. People have forgot that there was a time when MEN wore high heels (middle age) and skirts. Skirts are more tolerated if they are in a formal setting like Kilts or such. But nowadays it´s considered to “feminine”.
KALTBLUT: You don´t gender your cloth. Do you think to gender in general is over?
MARK: I’m afraid that. The lie of “Gender” will not be over for a while but its going in the right direction! I don’t believe in Gender, I believe in love and equality for every human-being careless of what body parts they have. I also think that the topic of Gender diversity is often mistreated and abused by the media but also by a lots of commercial artists.
KALTBLUT: Fashion today became more a hashtag, than a form of non verbal communication. Is this fast pace of trends something a designer has to deal with?
MARK: Sadly I have to say yes. This industry used to be open for only a chosen few. Thanks to wannabe socialites and their super cute blogs and the growing interest of the commercial media – where everyone thinks they know what it means to be a fashion editor – we as designer face a problem which was never there before. We have to be transparent or at least have out Marketing strategy worked out to much so that we can feed our “fans”. Its not anymore about what kind of Design you do or how great the quality of your clothes are. If your on TV, IG, Facebook and enough celebrities wear your clothes you basically won. Specially for young brands like my own. This is a real challenge.
KALTBLUT: You work a lot with Andy Wolf Glasses, is it important for you to work with other designers?
MARK: I like working with Andy Wolf because I like cooperating with local companies. My Wool and Linnen is all made in Austria and my Brass Scarf pins are made by an Austrian jewelry designer. But with Andy Wolf there is also a personal friendship involved. I love everyone on their team and I have been friends with the creative director for years. So yes I like working with other designers! Together we can accomplish a lot more!
KALTBLUT: Your moving soon to Bali, tell us about your plans.
MARK: Well lets say I have a one way ticket to go there. I have been living in Vienna for almost 7 years now. This is longer then any place I have been at in my life. My Family is spread across the entire planet so I guess I am used to living a nomad lifestyle. I have some friends in Bali who also work in fashion and my dream is to build up my own fair-trade company there. But there anything I learned from life is that I never comes as planned so lets see what will happen when I get there.
KALTBLUT: Do you think an other surrounding, like Bali, will change your design?
MARK: I am sure that I will get influenced by the people and the surrounding there and it will reflect on my design in a way, but I don’t see that as a bad thing, I like reflecting in my collections. To see what happens in my life.
KALTBLUT: 5 years from now? Were will you be?
MARK: Hopefully being able to live of my fashion and managing my company between Bali and Europe – preferably Paris or Berlin.