Philipp Plein Spring 2017 Menswear on Bessd

Philipp Plein Spring 2017 Menswear

“Sorry we are running late”—said Philipp Plein, breezily addressing a bank of TV reporters 13 minutes after his show was due to start at 9 p.m. last night—“but this is fashion!”

At 9:39 p.m., as we sat in the bleachers of Plein’s impressive basketball set, we noticed a countdown time on a suspended scoreboard read 21 minutes, and declining. For heaven’s sake, this isn’t Prada: He wouldn’t, would he?

Well this is Philipp Plein, so of course he would. We sat listening to a loop recording of “Philipp Plein radio,” whose blandishments to buy Plein were funny the first time round but less so the fifth. Then, at last, action. A honey-voiced, sharp-suited MC came out and urged each bleacher—nominally supporters of various fictional basketball teams invented for the collection—to cheer. They piped in the cheering. Then Plein himself came out as a second warmup act to introduce @mrplutus, the masked “designer” of Billionaire Couture, the brand he recently invested in. We were all invited to come along to the presentation on Monday, he said, adding: “We are going to have a lot of fun and have a big party afterwards.” Yes, Philipp, but what about this party? There were a thousand or so post-show guests waiting outside, and we were now on the wrong side of 10 p.m.

Having just been treated like I was here to rob the place by a moronically aggressive member of the security team, it was all too tempting to let any last reserves of a sense of humor evaporate to the wind. But Plein tends to be worth sticking with. Suddenly this show blossomed, after a slightly fatuous segment featuring two mascots, into something properly fun. First the Harlem Globetrotters came out and did their thing with a basketball delivered via drone. Dunks were slammed, and they were great. Then Busta Rhymes followed and, unlike Lil Wayne at a previous Plein show, he had clearly been briefed that even if you are a world famous rapper, when you exhort a fashion audience to “Raise your hands,” they will cross their arms. Not because we’re not fun, but, you know, we’re kinda working here—and spontaneous expressions of enthusiasm are pretty rare in this milieu. Still, Busta stuck it out with great humor and hands were duly raised—and not just when they were holding smartphones. Hats off, Busta. Then there were some dancers in tulle-boosted sports skirts and UV body paint who were pretty good.

Then—Woo Hah!!—the clothes! Naturally, at this point the lights were lowered and it was quite hard to make them out. Plus ça change, Philipp. But the baseline was basketball-inspired pieces imprinted with the logos of Plein’s made-up teams in Swarovski. There was black tailoring with orange seam details. The sneakers had those light-up soles and massive straps featuring Plein’s name in gothic-font gold. One motif in Swarowski looked just like the NBA logo. Even through the gloom it was impossible to miss a yellow python bomber. Near the end there was a suit and a basketball outfit patterned with pressed gold rococo whirls and a curly-tailed tiger.

Then, to finish things off, a shedload of silver ticker tape was dumped from the roof as the mascots and the Harlem Globetrotters and the dancers and Busta Rhymes and of course the models hit the court. And them Plein ran through it all. Without wishing to encourage further lateness and tempt further abuse at the hairy-knuckled hands of security goons, Plein’s total chutzpah is endlessly fascinating, and his spectacles are a mixed delight. It’s the theatre of the absurd. So what basketball team does Plein support? “I’ve never seen a game!”

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