A hint of haute-couture

London, New York, Milan and Paris – the names of each of these cities trip easily off the tongue in the same breath as ‘Haute Couture’ – or ‘high-end tailoring’. This exquisite accolade has escaped Frankfurt am Main for some time, if not for ever. (Apologies to the city’s dignatories and citizens – but we are just pointing out …..). But there is no need for anyone to gnash their teeth, because the city may well, in future, become a fashion hot-spot for a rather special sort of high-end tailoring: Haute Tech(textil).

Thus, for the first time, the ‘Innovative Apparel Show’ is being held during the trade fair. Under the slogan, “Textiles live on stage”, BA and MA students from the Faculty of Textile and Clothing Technology at the Hochschule Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences, amongst others, are presenting 24 unusual items of clothing, which create an impressive visual bridge between (textile) technology and fashion. With around 2,000 students, the Faculty of Textile and Clothing Technology at the Niederrhein University of Applied Sciences is the largest faculty in its field.

What do models do just before they appear on the catwalk? We might have been able to guess: they adjust their clothing.

What do models do just before they appear on the catwalk? We might have been able to guess: they adjust their clothing.

The models who bestride the catwalk professionally – some of them with 20-centimetre heels on their feet – wear, for example, a dress in multi-layered leather, with electrically conductive yarn, which ‘adorns’ the wearer with an autonomous source of power, a black evening dress made of old jeans, with individual LEDs shining on it like twinkling stars in the sky (the public’s reaction: “Aaaah”), or a coat from agricultural textiles (see picture above), which would normally be used as ground cover and for shade in agricultural and forestry situations, or in landscaping and gardening work.

Here we see MA student Julia Edich with her second 'agro gem', a dress also made from materials that are actually more often used in agriculture and forestry

Here we see MA student Julia Edich with her second ‘agro gem’, a dress also made from materials that are actually more often used in agriculture and forestry

‘Agromantel’ designer, Julia Edich, a 29-year-old MA student in the department of “Textile Products” at the University of Niederrhein, revealed to us a little about her project, which she has called ‘Cover me softly’: “I was inspired, on the one hand, by the trend for voluminous coats at all the big fashion shows and, on the other hand, by the protective function of a duvet, into which one can snuggle. Besides, I found it extremely exciting, turning a material, which had in no way been intended to be used for clothes manufacture, into something that actually is an item of clothing. Agrotextiles are perfect for this: like plants, which are often ‘covered up’ during their growing period, human beings also have a need for ‘protection’ – hence, too, ‘Cover me softly’. For people, of course, visual considerations come into play too.”

At the end, Julia revealed that there had already been an enquiry, after the first show this afternoon, as to when the coat would be available ‘to buy in the shops’. It will not, of course, happen as quickly as that; it is, after all – like its haute-couture counterparts – a one-off. If, however, an enthusiast for one-off, agrarian textile coats, were to be interested in buying the coat (without the model in it), then he or she is welcome to get in touch with us – they will still not be moving quite in the upper price segment inhabited by the luxury fashion creations of the most famous designers.

The ‘Haute-Tech Show’ – we will just mention here – can still be visited on Tuesday and Wednesday, at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on both days, as well as on Thursday at 11 a.m. Whether Karl Lagerfeld will be there, is, at the time of writing this blog entry, still not known!

Ronny Eckert

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