28-01-2016 | By

Occupying Negative Space

Odeur Studios

Odeur AW16 Stini Roehrsvia Stini Röhrs x Impossible Polaroids

When we create our collections, having decided on what kind of silhouette we are working with, or the message we would like to convey, we try not to write on the nose, or dictate how [our audience] should feel about it.”

 – Petter Hollström

The dwelling of a shadowy realm is no chore for Odeur Studios. Be it in their aesthetic, with its distinctly agendered silhouettes, their marketing techniques, most notable of which being the swapping of a wordbased logo-type for a “white, […] clean scent” unique to, and emblematic of, the brand, or in their distribution, stocking in hand-picked independent boutiques “associated with creative design”, the brand is consistent in its bold, yet considered, approach to the circumvention of conventional industry mechanisms. Far from being brought about by laborious strategising, their success predicates on an attitude more radical than any other: a resolve to do exactly what they please.

Odeur AW16 Stini RoehrsPetter Hollström (right) & Gorjan Lauseger (left) via Stini Röhrs x Impossible Polaroids

With the presentation of each collection comes a swell of praise for the brand’s innovation, thereby exponentially increasing its dedicated fan base. While such attention may inspire the assumption that Odeur is a fresh face on the market, that is far from the case, initiated in 2006 and due to present its 20th collection next season. Yet it can hardly be thought of as an ‘old’ brand, doomed to fade into a sea of stale hype, lingering in the vain hope of a revival a generation or two down the line. Indeed, their subversive individualism allows them a near-permanent relevancy, neither definable within, nor comparable to, immediately familiar paradigms.

BERLIN, GERMANY - JANUARY 19: A model walks the runway at the Odeur show during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Autumn/Winter 2016 at Brandenburg Gate on January 19, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz)Odeur A/W 16 via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin

Odeur has presented across the globe, taking in Copenhagen, Shanghai, their native Stockholm and, this season’s location, Berlin, remarkably eschewing the ‘Big Four’ contexts that one may have thought more suitable for their experimental practice. Talking of their decision to show here, Hollström asserts that “[they] don’t think in terms of how [they] want to be perceived and then going [to show in] London or New York” to achieve that. “It’s more a case of this being what [they] do, and if [they] feel that it suits Berlin, as it does for now, then [they] will go ahead and show”.That said, the gulf between Berlin and fashion capitals of greater repute does little to distance it from the trials and tribulations ubiquitous on crossing whichever of fashion’s thresholds.

On meeting them at Temporary Showroom, the concept store-cum-PR agency charged with the logistical organisation of the show, the pair, accompanied by colleague Sofia, have arrived fresh from two hours sleep and a 4am start from their Stockholm base. A shuttle across the city delivers them to the former site of the Dresdener Bahnhof, a vast space playing host to Berlin Fashion Week mainstay, Premium Showroom. Amidst castings, fittings and the setting up of their collection in the trade show’s ‘Dissonance Area’, a space consecrated to ‘avantgarde’ design, media obligations were attended to, the results of which you can see here.Odeur AW16 Stini Roehrsvia Stini Röhrs x Impossible Polaroids

The focus of the following day shifted to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week’s Brandenburger Tor hub, with the brand afforded a prestigious slot on the opening day. Backstage, the usual proceedings were in full flow: styling, make-up, a swarm of photographers ringing out in shutter- clicks at the merest flick of a model’s hair; an anticipatory tension was certainly palpable, but striking in its absence was the slightest hint of rigidity, pretension or disarray.

Odeur AW16 Stini Roehrsvia Stini Röhrs x Impossible Polaroids

The only hints of frenzy were to be found on entering the foyer, with a horde of eager attendees surging forward to collect their tickets before flooding the room in such droves that a good proportion were left to stand. An anticipatory silence fell, swiftly followed by the drifting of six figures to their starting positions, spectral in the cool blue light. On the raising of the lights, they ascended the flanking staircases disappearing into the crowd for the lifting of the curtain.

BERLIN, GERMANY - JANUARY 19: A model walks the runway at the Odeur show during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Autumn/Winter 2016 at Brandenburg Gate on January 19, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz)Odeur A/W 16 via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin

The show’s opening did little to disappoint long-term fans, while keeping to the promise that this season’s collection would “[build] upon what [has been established over] the last two [seasons]”, offering an “updated version of the Odeur silhouette”. The pairing of a sharp greatcoat with cropped fitted trousers is hardly a foray into the unknown, but the devil was to be found in the details, with a slightly widened hem, zipper accents and streaming tails of fabric, conjuring a sense of mysterious intrigue more profound than in any of Petter & Gorjan’s previous work. An idiosyncratically versatile approach to layering was naturally on show, juxtaposing sweeping under-layers with cropped, armour like shells. Due credit should be paid to the styling, avoiding the dull tendency towards the fascistic presentation of a garment as only being relevant within a certain look, instead offering each silhouette as but one of near-infinite possibilities, each a nuanced, yet distinctly personal, interpretation of Odeur.

BERLIN, GERMANY - JANUARY 19: A model walks the runway at the Odeur show during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Autumn/Winter 2016 at Brandenburg Gate on January 19, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz)Odeur A/W 16 via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin I

It is all very well to speak of the merits of layering, but in a climate obsessed by the often reckless piling of dark materials upon one another, it is seldom a feat worthy of praise. Odeur showcased an ability to appeal to, but maintain distance from, plain trend, relying on fresh textural combinations. Undulating strips of trailing fabrics offset the stern technicality of neoprene, while the depth of felted cashmeres balanced sheer jerseys. Though the resulting silhouettes are appealing of themselves, attention was particularly drawn to their near geometric compositions, with each garment fulfilling the role of a malleable building block. This approach was translated into prints and motifs, with boxy bomber jackets and cropped trousers in grey cashmeres printed with deconstructed black squares formed of concentric right angles, an appropriate metaphor for the brand’s taking of simple structural elements to create a congruous yet abstracted whole. Visual motifs were complemented by subtly embossed words, among them “empathy”, “another view” and “shout”. Far from being obnoxiously assertive, they occupied a silent domain, only coming to light upon concentrated inspection of the garment. Previous collection staples were revisited, reconsidered and updated, but most intriguing was the introduction of colour to the Odeur palette, a deviation from the typical monopoly of monotone gradients. Colouring subtle motifs, as well as sweeping tunics of asymmetric proportion, the flashes of royal blue were far from jarring, serving to accentuate the aforementioned versatility of the silhouette.

Odeur AW16 Stini Roehrsvia Stini Röhrs x Impossible Polaroids

BERLIN, GERMANY - JANUARY 19: Models walk the runway at the Odeur show during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Autumn/Winter 2016 at Brandenburg Gate on January 19, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz)Odeur A/W 16 via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin

The presentation’s canvases took the form of a troupe of near-identically coiffed models with diamond-cut cheekbones, testaments to the characteristic gender fluidity of the garments. Through them, “Silent/Shout” took on a certain depth and poignancy, presenting a collection that questions the phenomenon of perspective on two primary levels. The first handles the manner in which garments are perceived, executed through a particular layering of variant shades and materials that encourage the viewer to reflect upon the subtleties of what they see, inciting them to consider the shifts in perspective that occur as an engagement with a look or garment deepens. The second level came to light with certain models walking the runway holding hands, regardless of their apparent genders; through the simple gesture of handholding, a wider social commentary is revealed, highlighting the absurdity of common social perceptions of both gender and gendered interaction.

BERLIN, GERMANY - JANUARY 19: Models walk the runway at the Odeur show during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin Autumn/Winter 2016 at Brandenburg Gate on January 19, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz)Odeur A/W 16 via Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin

If taken literally, the title “Silent/Shout” is wholly nonsensical, for the two cannot appear in tandem; this is the precise paradox that Odeur tackle, creating a collection that successfully occupies a space within a supposed contradiction. With bold innovation, they show that what may initially appear oppositional, the combining of sharp neoprenes and cosy wools for example, in fact results in an unexpected harmony. In the broadening of perspectives, new modes of creation and appreciation open up and once mute voices are heard.

Odeur AW16 Stini Roehrsvia Stini Röhrs X Impossible Polaroids

Odeur AW16 Stini Roehrsvia Stini Röhrs X Impossible Polaroids

Odeur AW16 Stini Roehrsvia Stini Röhrs X Impossible Polaroids

Odeur AW16 Stini Roehrsvia Stini Röhrs X Impossible Polaroids

Odeur AW16 Stini Roehrsvia Stini Röhrs x Impossible Polaroids

Odeur AW16 Stini Roehrsvia Stini Röhrs X Impossible Polaroids