On October 20th, Berlin based designer Odély Teboul presented the first collection of her newly founded label „Lou de Bètoly“ at „The Liberate“. Promising a trip into a simultaneous reality, her designs whisked the public away to a fairy-tale setting with detailed glittery embroidery and colorful floral patterns.
After running the acclaimed label Augustin Teboul with her partner Annelie Augustin, Teboul started over alone. „Lou de Bètoly“ is an anagram of her name and points at the adverse and sometimes conflicting parts of the soul (from the French „deux bêtes au lit“, meaning two beasts in one bed). This antagonistic nature is also reflected in her styles, where dreamy looks are paired with rivets on punk-inspired leather jackets.
Two central questions were chosen by the designer to mark the framework of Teboul’s collection: „What if emotional intelligence defined the value of beauty?“ and „What if creativity and fantasy determined political correctness?“. Despite remaining quite obscure, these words helped us make sense of the atmospheric setting, and echoed in our minds long after looking at the pieces. Not only did the often shimmery styles invite the viewer into a parallel universe governed by emotions and sensuality. Thanks to the delicate knitting and craftsmanship, that characterized the aerial bodysuits, the collection also nostalgically referred to a past far away from mass production and fast fashion.
What struck our attention the most was the model’s bare skin, shining through many of the confections. In fact, rather than sexualizing the body, the unveiling pieces created a mysterious interplay between fabric and body. By integrating the skin into the garment itself, the look often seems to be painted onto, rather than worn by, the model as a surface. The boundaries between body and fabric are blurred in favor of a more comprehensive image of beauty that neither rises solely from the model nor from the clothing.
Furthermore, despite the dreamy setting, the collection’s program seems to touch on real, substantial, and even political questions. Given the combination of models with self-absorbed gaze and the almost emotional pieces, Lou de Bètoly’s collection can be seen as an example of aesthetics that oppose neutral and restrained political news and the, sometimes overwhelming, pace of society’s changes. By emphasizing slow production with its nostalgic references, the collection conveys more of an individual image that focuses on personal development. In this manner the pieces reject simplistic views of beauty, the idea of a one-dimensional coherent style, and question the circumstances of the contemporary fashion industry.
While at first sight questions of “political correctness” and “emotional intelligence” might seem out of place in a fashion campaign, when they are considered in light of the clothes’ political implications, they somehow appear legitimate. Overall Lou de Bètoly’s collection offers a different approach towards fashion and politics and acts as a form of resistance against superficial judgment and simple truths that often appear in both fields.
Images 2, 3, 5 courtesy of Till Janz.
Images 1, 4, 6 courtesy of Trevor Good.