I should have learnt by now to never be shocked by anything Bas Kosters does, but still I was completely blown away by the AW15 collection shown in Amsterdam, and I've been clicking and scrolling and revisiting it throughout the day. The menswear schedule in Amsterdam reads as a pretty comprehensive list of those who aren't necessarily household names, but absolutely should be. You may know Bas Kosters without realising, however, thanks to Noel Fielding who regularly dons the label, appeared in their AW14 show, and recently sported a head to toe look (literally) on Big Fat Quiz of the Year to a diverse UK audience.
Permanent State of Confusion Phase 2 (SS15 being Phase 1, described as the 'first part in a larger artistic project') is a visual riot. Wearing make-up that sits somewhere between Gajan festival-goer and drag queen, models walked barefoot down the runway, flecked with glitter and topped with curly wigs and out-of-this-world headpieces. There are no 'easy basics', 'day to night staples', or 'relaxed, wearable silhouettes'; this isn't about appealing to buyers or hankering after a spot on the Net-A-Porter designer directory. It's pure creation or, as Kosters puts it himself, 'storytelling with fashion as a language'.
Volume and texture would undoubtedly be the main descriptors here if I were to simplify it. But why simplify a collection that is anything but? Frills; appliqué; patchwork; shredded, frayed hems and layers; tulle underskirts, quilting; no stone has been left unturned in the quest for the dramatic silhouettes that graced the runway. The creations are costume-like in their extravagance, yet unquestionably fall into the high fashion category where skill and construction is concerned. It seems fitting that this collection comes out during Couture Fashion Week, such is the nature of it.
Utilising overstock from the archive and leftovers from previous collections, this is a lesson in recycling and reinvention, and a statement against the consumerist lifestyles we have built. Kosters isn't afraid to question the industry that he is a part of and, in fact, uses his unique position within it as a platform from which to highlight social issues. Dedicated to telling stories through his work, he's about more than selling clothes. This isn't to say, though, that there is no commercial scope or vision from the studio. Collaborations with the likes of Bugaboo and Heineken show that the wildly creative and the commercial needn't be two separate entities.
Not restricted to fashion, the Bas Kosters studio is many things under one umbrella; a multidisciplinary artistic outfit where each facet, such as doll making, illustration, embroidery, and graphic design, play into each other and add strength to the label as a whole. This collection really feels like a culmination of his body of work up to this point, and a springboard from which to push the boundaries further with each passing season.
All images here are credited to the Fucking Young! website, who have provided amazing coverage of all menswear shows.