Lauren Tracey assesses Designer Philip Plein’s unsettling PR strategies

German designer Philip Plein is no stranger to wild and wacky stunts that come oh so often in the fashion world. This designer often couples his designs with publicity stunts galore, try which he often claims is all in the name of “style.”

Plein first made a name for himself in the year 2000 when he launched the “PHILIP PLEIN,” home ware collection. This initially began designing furnishings for his friends and family, but  sky rocketed into much more. In 2004 a fashion line for men and women followed, and received great reviews from fashion critics. Known for his harsh designs and utilitarian and masculine clothes Plein quickly became a forerunner in the ever ambitious circle of designers and fashion houses trying to ensure their clothes receive the best in show status from fashion critics.

Plein comes under fire from many however for his increasingly bizarre stunts to publicise his clothes. Only recently he sent many of his models down the runway with guns and wearing gas masks, but this blatant display of the glorification of violence has begged the question in many; should there be a line drawn between artistic expression and the downright obscene? Quotes such as “Life’s a game and it’s not fair” and “Only kill for love” were stencilled in red on models’ bodies in Plein’s efforts to “create a message.” In the wake of increasing amounts of gun attacks on civilians in the US however Plein’s strategy has been labelled by many as downright alarming. In May he defied convention by having a transsexual model feature in one of his shows and smoke a cigarette on the runway. His taste in models is also looked upon with a raised brow, two of his shows featuring celebrities Lindsey Lohan and Ed Westwick as models. Even when all the stunts are looked past, and the basic elements of fashion are being assessed, Plein’s designs have been dubbed as “out-dated and boring at best,” by featuring the seen before jeans, grey tee’s and skulls.

In the increasing quest for praise and prominence amongst fashion royalty such as Anna Wintour, and the recent job vacancies at Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, and Dior, is it possible that a once talented designer has lost its way? Is it no longer about the fashion? Is Plein a designer who has lost perspective? For Plein it seems that gone are the days of quality and care in the collections being presented at runway level, and he believes we as society have embraced the loud and the brash public spectacles that we are subjected to in all forms of culture. Perhaps articles like these prove that his tactics work.