JULIAANDBEN Fall/Winter 2009
In a passionate and venturous act of mutiny, marked by love, rage and the will to survive, Julia re-invents herself and breaks every rule. As one half of JULIAANDBEN she creates a symbiosis of luxury and crudity. The broken, unpretty and tacky is bonded with the chic, draped and minimal. Every collection incorporating a singular character that is always distinguished by the strive to mend.
An Answer Becomes Slow And I Am Sad Fall/Winter 2009
Julia, oh Julia, welcome to the Horst Interview. How are you?
I am perfectly fine.
What are you wearing right now?
I am wearing black disrupted leggings, an oversized T-shirt, a see-through short knit jumper and no shoes as I am sitting in our studio. Referring to the underwear, a gentlewoman enjoys and remains quiet. But I can tell you that Ben is wearing a pair of self-made boxer shorts that look quite avantgardish when compared to the rules of underwear.
When did you discover your Kitten Love?
Ben and me always loved to go to „Türkenmarkt“ in Berlin Kreuzberg where you can buy all sorts of fabrics. They have the most disgusting bad taste prints you can imagine. Those fabrics must have fallen off a truck somewhere in Eastern Europe. While most people feel the need to throw up, Ben and me become ecstatic. So we started to buy a few meters here and there to make small editions or to simply have them. That’s how we became kitten lovers. As a kitten lover yourself, you could buy fabrics there to decorate your whole apartment – and you should!
Do you have any other obsessions?
We really dream about doing „Die hässlichste Kollektion der Welt“, the most ugly collection imaginable. Even though I like silk and wool, viscose and leather, a deep passion for really bad colour combinations in lurex and polyester hide somewhere in a dark corner of my black soul. So we really hope that one day we will find the time and energy to fulfill this childhood dream.
What attracts you? Do you have any fetishes that push your buttons?
Apart from „Türkenmarkt“, I have a passion for the colour black when it comes to fashion. And I am a gossip junky, can’t help. I need my daily fix of www.dlisted.com.
Beauty Is My Boy Spring/Summer 2009
Could one describe Julia and Ben as a pair of star-crossed lovers?
I think Ben and me could possibly both make a collection by ourselves and it probably wouldn’t be bad, but when we are sitting together within all our fabrics and start talking about what we saw, what we like, what we want to do, it feels that together we could possibly even fly. You know this feeling? As a single person, you would maybe just be one depressed poor young creative. But when you are together everything becomes more fun. It gives you the power to go through shit without loosing focus and the belief in a brighter future. So I guess, yeah, maybe we are star-crossed lovers.
When and where did you meet?
We met while I was doing my diploma at ESMOD fashion school in Berlin. Benjamin attended the same school but was one year above me. We knew each other barely but while I was in the middle of my diploma we met. I told him that I am close to take anti-depresents because I couldn’t stand it anymore. All those nights staying up, working on my diploma, alone in my apartment. So he offered to help me and stayed up with me for a few nights. And I guess in the third night the idea of doing something together was born. We are a good team when it comes to having stupid ideas in the middle of the night.
Does each of you own a certain role in the creative process? Who is the boss?
There is no such thing as a boss. Sometimes he is and sometimes I am. Sometimes we really hate each other. Then I want to be the boss and he wants to quit but in the end we both hang in there. Sometimes it’s important to know that you can’t really make it on your own, even though your ego tries to tell you something else.
Beauty Is My Boy Spring/Summer 2009
How do you develop your designs? What is your source of inspiration?
If we are not designing, sewing or developing patterns for more than a week, we both feel like something is missing. It just happens very naturally. By expressing ourselves we create clothes. Our collection titles are like an emotion that carries the collection, we are usually not directly inspired by an artist, a movie or a colour; it is more that we see ourselves as storytellers and our titles appear within the process, they describe the special story or feelings we want to express while creating the collection. We don’t consciously put our collections in any cultural context giving it a name that refers to our emotions connected to the pieces we create. We build a bridge to the world around us.
Would you describe your work more conceptual or spontaneously?
It’s more spontaneously. Colours, shapes, paintings, designers, videos... there are always moments of inspiration but we try to translate it in our own visual language. Usually it starts like ,Hey, have you seen this jacket? Wait, I’ll show you’. Then we sit down and it goes on like ,Ah yeah, it’s cool but I kind of dislike the arms they should be more like the arms of this other jacket I saw. Wait, I’ll show you’. After a few hours we completely forgot how the conversation has started and designed something completely different on which we can build up more JULIAANDBEN items. So even though we have an inspiration in the beginning, it usually turns out to be something totally different.
I would claim you are not afraid of crossing the borders towards tackiness. Do you think your approach is daring and venturous?
I think it’s boring to always stay on the safe side. Everybody can make nice dresses that get you compliments on your grandmother’s birthday party. It’s also about having fun while doing it, plus we have many wearable commercial items in shades of grey and black in our collections. Just wait until we made „Die hässlichste Kollektion der Welt“ and ask me that question again.
Little Horsti went through all forms of self-expression and clichés. Tell me about your fashionable identification process.
Between the age of 12 and 14, I was totally in love with Axl Rose and Kurt Cobain, so I was wearing a strange mix between hard rock and grunge with yet a desire to be pretty and cute. Then Hip Hop started. I hung around with graffiti skater boys and smoked huge amounts of weed, wearing baggy jeans and tiny T-shirts. At the age of 17 I started to listen to electronic music and to wear a lot of black and so on... So I guess, I tried it all. Right now, I still love loud West Coast Hip Hop and its chavy attitude. Music and stuff like MIA and Diplo, Lady Sovereign etc. I need bass. The nice thing about getting older is that I really don’t give a shit about being cool anymore, so I can confess that my tacky site always loved Mariah Carey (,Glitter’ is one of the best movies ever) and that I love to listen to Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, Hildegard Knef and Ella Fitzgerald while working.
Ben: I started with slim heavy metal looks and wanted to have long hair, turned into grunge and obscure indie stuff (before it became a rack in the record shops) with military cargo looks. Then some years of po-mo anything goes electronic confusion. Add clicks and cuts black and white purism and a new old desire for romantic and you’ve got me.
How does Julia's most awful outfit look like?
I don’t have such a thing like awful outfits, ha ha.
What do you regard as the unforgivable fashion sin?
Polyester flokati cuffs and binman coats at Love Parade in combination with plastic sunflower brooches.
What do you think is the upcoming revival? What will we wear next summer, or up to 5 years?
I think the 80s revival is still going strong or going strong again. I was hoping for more 90s. I also think that Rick Owens and his aesthetical language will influence many young designers and become more and more mainstream: draped things, floating materials, oversized pieces.
I would love to get a little insight to your upcoming collection? Can you reveal some pieces and the over-all feel?
I can tell you it’s gonna be cream pie in the most horrible sense of its meaning.
Contemporary Totem Spring/Summer 2010
What is your darkest secret?
It’s too dark, I can’t tell. But my pharmacist offers great pills to medicate it.
And last but not least: Can we find kitten inspired things on other parts of your body?
I have a „pussy“ if that’s what you're talking about.