Berlin Fashion Week: Distraction or Action?
The Berlin fashion week, distraction or action? I thought as I entered the hive.
The labels, the designers, the stylists, the photographers, the models, the hair & makeup artists, every spare pair buzzing around, like bees in a hive of honey, swimming together in the queen bee's money.
This sticky golden core at Brandenburger Tor left me breathless. Like a fish on the side of a mountain, wheezing and cold leaving no other option but to change my role. Growing up in the thorny, hot, unforgiving Western Australian bush taught me nothing about fashion or walking like a cat on stage but I did learn how to place my feet well, so I gave the castings a shot. Together with a handful of very good looking guys I roamed Berlin like I had never roamed it before. We spent four days looking as handsome as we possibly could, squeezing our faces together like pieces of fruit, letting the designers taste our flavour, aiming my pout like shooting a gun to hunt game in the field, learning from the other more experienced models how this modern day form of hunting was to be won.
'Even modelling requires skill,' they would say, like acting on a stage a character must be made. And so I practised, calling on the muscles in my face to perfect the look; cheeks between the teeth, nostrils fully flared, I booked a show for every day of the honey highway play, and to the doors of the kingdom I was shown, as my cat walk character was born.
I remember walking back stage into the heart of the hive, sitting there in the middle of it all, the brightly lit mirror handing back to me my powdered reflection. To my left, my tiny south Korean side kick was doing her best to reach up and comb my brow, the touch of such royal comfort sending my mind spiralling inwards. A Vietnamese transvestite to my right began to scrape my nails clean. 'Woman or man?' I thought to myself. 'I guess it doesn't really matter.' She was armed to the teeth with cosmetics and other pointy, sharp glamour gismos, so I dare not move at all, and as my body hushed still and silent my mind rose roaring with guilt. 'What am I doing here?' I heard myself echo.
'Entschuldigung...ah... excuse me sir, can I please take your photo?' a man asked, pointing politely at the oversized black cannon lashed around his neck, his eyes reassuring me that no harm would come. 'Go ahead,' I said, and lifted my lips for the flash. I looked into the lens, he adjusted his aim and pulled the trigger. He seemed very happy with his catch, as if he could already smell the scent of the dish to where my face would fit. I hoped for his sake that the meal would taste good and off he went in search of another photo to fill.
I remember standing naked by my station waiting to be dressed, the brewding vanity washing over me as the rotting, raw taste of truth entered my mouth and slid slowly down my throat.
"How can such a world exist?" On one side of the earth an Ethiopian boy walks a war torn country for food and on the other a Berlin based model walks the runway for fame. We modern day monkeys are so parched for recognition that we forget to pass the plate.
I remember seeing the whole family there with me backstage, my mother culture behind me holding me from behind, dribbling drunken words into my ear, "here my friend... here have a shot", the smell of vodka and greed seeping down into my gut.
I remember seeing the other members there too, Ethiopia, Congo and Haiti were staring over at me from the other side of the room, their scabby, infected wounds crawling with flies, their dark, leathered, bodies hanging rags to shelter their skin from the sky. Ethiopia walked over, a baby skeleton hanging loosely in her arms.
His windswept, weathered lips washed by the fury of the sun. His sunken cheekbones as barren and as weathered as the desert dunes of where he'd come from.
I turned my head in shame. she gave him to me, his heavy head and malnourished body falling limp into my arms, a deep infected wound on his brow. I took the vodka from the breath behind me, I lifted it up and poured it over his cut, 'you're with me now,' I said, as I jumped back out of my head.
My hair and makeup were already finished, my suit fitted and ready. 'Distraction or action' I thought to myself as my body walked straight and steady.
By Finn Juniper Denaro