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Where the Boys Who Keep Swinging Are Now: Locational Relationality in Hedi Slimane and Helmut Lang1

Susan Ingram

Abstract | This arti­cle illus­trates the mech­a­nisms by which Berlin and Vien­na have come to fig­ure dif­fer­ent­ly in the glob­al fash­ion imag­i­nary. It estab­lish­es the styl­is­tic loca­tion­al rela­tion­al­i­ty of Hedi Sli­mane and Hel­mut Lang, two fash­ion design­ers known for dis­tinc­tive styles that resist the main­stream of bour­geois respectabil­i­ty. The rela­tion­al nature of their loca­tion­al identities—Slimane’s attrac­tion to Berlin and Lang’s rejec­tion of Vienna—is tied to the cities’ urban imag­i­nar­ies, which work by mak­ing par­tic­u­lar peri­ods and styles of the cities’ his­to­ries hegemonic.

Résumé | Cet arti­cle illus­tre les mécan­ismes par lesquels Berlin et Vienne en sont venus à fig­ur­er dif­férem­ment dans l’imaginaire mon­di­al de la mode. Il établit la rela­tion locale styl­is­tique de Hedi Sli­mane  et Hel­mut Lang, deux dessi­na­teurs de mode con­nus pour leur styles dis­tict­in­tifs qui résis­tent aux normes pré­va­lentes de la respectabil­ité bour­geoise. La nature rela­tion­nelle de leurs iden­tités géographiques—L’attrait de Berlin pour Sli­mane et le rejet de Vienne pour Lang—est liée à l’imaginaire urbain des deux villes, ce qui se man­i­feste en ren­dant hégé­moniques des aspects par­ti­c­uliers des épo­ques et du style de l’histoire des deux villes.

Some cities lend them­selves to bet­ter com­par­isons than oth­ers. As the cap­i­tals of the two Ger­man-speak­ing empires (the Pruss­ian and Hab­s­burg, respec­tive­ly), Berlin and Vien­na are well posi­tioned for com­par­i­son, par­tic­u­lar­ly due to the very dif­fer­ent ways the two cities have come to fig­ure in the glob­al pop­u­lar imag­i­nary on account of their very dif­fer­ent his­tor­i­cal tra­jec­to­ries. Upstart Berlin with its back­ground as a Gar­nison­stadt (gar­ri­son city) has become the “poor but sexy” club­bing cap­i­tal of Europe (see Bauer and Hosek), while Res­i­den­zs­tadt Vienna—the city that effec­tive­ly served as the cap­i­tal of the Holy Roman Empire from the time the Hab­s­burg Emper­or Fer­di­nand II estab­lished his res­i­dence there in the ear­ly 17th cen­tu­ry to its dis­so­lu­tion by Napoleon in 1806 and as home to the Hab­s­burgs for most of the past mil­len­ni­um—, stead­fast­ly remains a cap­i­tal of fad­ed impe­r­i­al splen­dor (Fig­ures 1 and 2). These imag­i­nar­ies inform the ways in which these two cities’ respec­tive fash­ion sys­tems have respond­ed to con­tem­po­rary glob­al pres­sures brought about by flows of cap­i­tal, goods, and peo­ple, as well as the way the glob­al fash­ion sys­tem has engaged with them. As of the time of writ­ing, the Sar­to­ri­al­ist still had not vis­it­ed Vien­na, while there are 40 images from Berlin on his site.2


Fig­ure 1 On the Street… Mitte, Berlin

Fig­ure 2 Café Grien­stei­dl on the Michael­er­platz in Vien­na (pho­to: M. Reisenleitner)

The mech­a­nisms by which Berlin and Vien­na have come to fig­ure dif­fer­ent­ly and the role of visu­al style cul­ture in both form­ing and greas­ing the cir­cuits under­pin­ning their respec­tive urban imag­i­nar­ies are the sub­ject of this con­tri­bu­tion. Build­ing on both Doreen Massey’s argu­ment about the iden­ti­ty of mod­ern places being con­sti­tut­ed as much by their rela­tion with oth­er places as by any­thing intrin­sic to their loca­tion (Massey) and Rosi Braidotti’s under­stand­ing of a place as “an embed­ded and embod­ied mem­o­ry: it is a set of counter-mem­o­ries, which are acti­vat­ed by the resist­ing thinker against the grain of the dom­i­nant rep­re­sen­ta­tions of sub­jec­tiv­i­ty” (Blaa­gaard and Tuin 203), I jux­ta­pose the career paths of two design­ers whose work resists the main­stream of bour­geois respectabil­i­ty: Hedi Sli­mane (Fig­ure 3) and Hel­mut Lang (Fig­ure 4). I show how their rela­tions have, in the case of Sli­mane and Berlin, and have not, in the case of Lang and Vien­na, come to play a role in con­sti­tut­ing these cities’ glob­al iden­ti­ties. The rela­tion­al nature of these loca­tion­al iden­ti­ties and their (visu­al) styles is thus shown to be inti­mate­ly tied to the cities’ urban imag­i­nar­ies, which work by mak­ing hege­mon­ic par­tic­u­lar peri­ods and styles of the cities’ his­to­ries. In posi­tion­ing Lang’s or Slimane’s work as resis­tant, I am not con­test­ing their promi­nence as fash­ion design­ers but rather point­ing to the rela­tion between the rad­i­cal nature of their visions and their asso­ci­at­ing, or not, with the urban imag­i­nar­ies of Berlin and Vien­na. As Bradley Quinn point­ed out in his review of the Rad­i­cal Fash­ion exhi­bi­tion at the Vic­to­ria & Albert Muse­um in 2001-2002, rad­i­cal is a rel­a­tive con­cept that, when applied to uncom­pro­mis­ing col­lec­tions such as Lang’s, “implies a sud­den thrill of mean­ings that them­selves quick­en, mutate, rup­ture, fis­sure, or col­lapse. Fash­ion design­ers work­ing in this vein reshape the body, design accord­ing to philo­soph­i­cal and intel­lec­tu­al con­cerns, push bound­aries, chal­lenge per­cep­tions, and usurp con­for­mi­ty to give form to extrav­a­gant projects of the imag­i­na­tion” (Quinn 442). What inter­ests me here is not so much the col­lec­tions them­selves, about which Fash­ion Stud­ies schol­ars have made many insight­ful obser­va­tions (Rees-Roberts,“Boys Keep Swing­ing”; Bow­stead; Arnold, “Hero­in Chic”),3 but rather the rela­tions between the imag­i­na­tions under­pin­ning these works and the cities in which they came into being. In the trend-set­ting work of both Sli­mane and Lang:

Con­spic­u­ous con­sump­tion is refused in favor of dress strate­gies that are dis­qui­et­ing and unknow­able by those out­side the coterie of youth cul­ture, a form of resis­tance to imposed def­i­n­i­tions of iden­ti­ty and lifestyle. They emit a feel­ing of being adrift from soci­ety as a whole; the youth cul­ture that fash­ion was draw­ing upon becomes a series of satel­lites that deny inclu­sion in estab­lish­ment ideals. (Arnold, “Hero­in Chic” 286–87)

Yet Berlin’s urban imag­i­nary has been able to take that resis­tance into its own urban imag­i­nary, while Vienna’s has not. As impor­tant­ly illus­trat­ed here, the expe­ri­ences of these design­ers and their rela­tions to these cities can help us under­stand, and see, why.

Figure 3 Hedi Slimane (Victor Soto)

Fig­ure 3 Hedi Sli­mane (Vic­tor Soto)

Figure 4 Helmut Lang, 2008 (courtesy of HL-ART)

Fig­ure 4 Hel­mut Lang, 2008 (cour­tesy of HL-ART)

Hel­mut Lang is the fash­ion design­er asso­ci­at­ed with Vien­na to have achieved the great­est renown inter­na­tion­al­ly, but he did not do so as a specif­i­cal­ly Vien­nese fash­ion design­er. While Lang may have start­ed out in Vien­na with a bou­tique called Bou Bou Lang in 1979, he used the suc­cess that his use of uncon­ven­tion­al mate­ri­als and min­i­mal­ist util­i­tar­i­an­ism in designs gar­nered as a spring­board to get to Paris, not to men­tion his “Vien­nese-ness”4, which is not intend­ed as a styl­is­tic mark­er but sim­ply a reflec­tion of his back­ground. The con­nec­tion helped him to show a col­lec­tion in 1986 in con­junc­tion with the mon­u­men­tal “Vienne 1880-1939: L’apocalypse joyeuse/Vienna 1900/Traum und Wirk­lichkeit” exhi­bi­tion at Cen­tre Georges Pom­pi­dou that brought a renewed appre­ci­a­tion of Vienna’s Jugendstil/art nou­veau cul­tur­al her­itage and pop­u­lar­ized it else­where (Ingram and Reisen­leit­ner, Wiener Chic 162). In Paris, he found­ed his own label and showed his first ready-to-wear col­lec­tion before decamp­ing for New York, where “in April 2000, he became the first non-Amer­i­can design­er to become part of the Coun­cil of Fash­ion Design­ers of Amer­i­ca (CFDA), a group which had named him Best Inter­na­tion­al Design­er of the Year in 1996” (162), and began work­ing with Jen­ny Holz­er on the design of his bou­tiques (Fig­ure 5). Now a promi­nent com­po­nent of the Fash­ion Stud­ies canon for his exper­i­men­tal séances de tra­vail and ear­ly use of the inter­net, “it was Lang’s cool, urban sil­hou­ettes, mar­ry­ing basic shapes with edgy col­or com­bi­na­tions and advanced tech­no­log­i­cal fab­rics, which were both the cru­cial look for fash­ion insid­ers, and the key influ­ence on oth­er design­ers, eager to find a new vision of the mod­ern” (Arnold, Fash­ion, Desire and Anx­i­ety: Image and Moral­i­ty in the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry 20, qtd. in Rees-Roberts, “Raf Simons and Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Fash­ion from Post-Punk to Neo-Mod­ern” 14). How­ev­er, Lang quick­ly grew dis­en­chant­ed by the grow­ing con­sol­i­da­tion of the fash­ion indus­try into con­glom­er­ates. When the Pra­da Group sought to con­sol­i­date its posi­tion as a lead­ing lux­u­ry con­glom­er­ate at the end of the 1990s by acquir­ing labels and came knock­ing at Hel­mut Lang, he first ced­ed 51% of his com­pa­ny in 1999 and the remain­der in 2004. He left the com­pa­ny the fol­low­ing year, retired from fash­ion, and has since been devot­ing him­self to his work as an artist. As we argue in Wiener Chic, Lang’s refusal to kow­tow to glob­al fashion’s pow­ers-that-be, main­tain­ing instead a rela­tion­ship to the fash­ion world res­olute­ly on his own terms,5 is indica­tive of, and in keep­ing with, the larg­er Vien­nese fash­ion sys­tem, just as the rest of the city’s non-high cul­ture, tourist-ori­ent­ed cul­tur­al pro­duc­tion exists in a state of rel­a­tive invis­i­bil­i­ty glob­al­ly (Ingram and Reisen­leit­ner, Wiener Chic 161).

Figure 5 Helmut Lang boutique in Westbourne Grove, London (photo: S. Ingram)

Fig­ure 5 Hel­mut Lang bou­tique in West­bourne Grove, Lon­don (pho­to: S. Ingram)

Just as forces pro­pelled Hel­mut Lang out of Vien­na, so too did oth­ers attract Hedi Sli­mane to Berlin. Slimane’s fash­ion path ran more imme­di­ate­ly through Paris than Lang’s. Hav­ing stud­ied art his­to­ry at the École du Lou­vre, his ini­tial par­tic­i­pa­tion in the fash­ion world was in the ear­ly 1990s as an assis­tant on a Louis Vuit­ton project to reimag­ine the brand. After a for­ma­tive peri­od with Yves Saint Lau­rent, dur­ing which he rose to the posi­tion of artis­tic direc­tor, Sli­mane, like Lang, gained fame by pio­neer­ing a rebel­lious, tight-legged look.6 While Lang had brought a “punk, dis­tressed look to the cat­walk” in the 1990s (Arnold, “Hero­in Chic” 286), “Slimane’s rep­u­ta­tion is found­ed on hav­ing stream­lined and reju­ve­nat­ed the male sil­hou­ette through the pro­mo­tion of a skin­ny style appro­pri­at­ed from youth sub­cul­tures” dur­ing his tenure at Dior from 2000-2007 (Rees-Roberts, “Boys Keep Swing­ing” 7).7 Rees-Roberts empha­sizes, “Of [Slimane’s] col­lec­tions for Dior Homme, those in 2005 and 2006 are emblem­at­ic of his trans­po­si­tion of the revival Eng­lish mod look made famous by the designer’s unof­fi­cial muse at the time, musi­cian Pete Doher­ty” (Rees-Roberts, “Boys Keep Swing­ing” 9), but he also can­not help but note “the fig­ure of David Bowie loom­ing large over Slimane’s lux­u­ry trans­po­si­tion of street style, par­tic­u­lar­ly the singer’s incar­na­tions in the mid- to late 1970s” (Rees-Roberts, “Boys Keep Swing­ing” 13). Call­ing on the evi­dence of Slimane’s ear­ly pho­tog­ra­phy, Rees-Roberts iden­ti­fies the attrac­tion as based on “[t]he retro allure of East­ern Euro­pean mil­i­tarism” (Rees-Roberts, “Boys Keep Swing­ing” 14), a region­al focus that effaces the influ­ence of Berlin and its urban imag­i­nary.8 After all, it was to Berlin that Sli­mane relo­cat­ed after YSL was tak­en over by Guc­ci in 1999 and he learned he would have a new boss:

Tom Ford, the cre­ative direc­tor at Guc­ci, who insist­ed that Sli­mane report to him. “It was a total­ly new idea to me, this sto­ry of ‘report­ing,’” Sli­mane told me. (His Eng­lish is good but not per­fect.) “I might have nev­er heard the word ‘report­ing’ before. Report­ing to Tom was not going to hap­pen.” Bergé object­ed to the arrange­ment, too. “I was absolute­ly against it,” he told me. “Tom Ford is not my cup of tea. I don’t respect him, not at all. He is not a design­er. He is a mar­ket­ing man.” After meet­ing with Ford at the Ritz (“The sit­u­a­tion became unpleas­ant,” Sli­mane said), Sli­mane resigned. (Paum­garten)

Between 2000 and 2002 Sli­mane under­took an artis­tic res­i­den­cy at the Kun­st-Werke Insti­tute for Con­tem­po­rary Art in Berlin, which result­ed in his first pho­tog­ra­phy book, Berlin, a glossy pub­li­ca­tion by Edi­tions 7L/Steidl (the L stands for Lager­feld), which con­tains images he took dur­ing his tenure in the city.

The impor­tance of Bowie to Sli­mane, and of Berlin to that rela­tion­ship, is not to be under­es­ti­mat­ed. In “Changes: Bowie’s Life Sto­ry,” her con­tri­bu­tion to the David Bowie Is… cat­a­logue, Ori­ole Cullen includes a quote by Bowie “[d]iscussing his approach to fash­ion in 2005”: “Explain­ing that he was cur­rent­ly wear­ing clothes by one par­tic­u­lar design­er, he said, ‘I just rely on Hedi Sli­mane […]. I’ve always been extreme­ly lucky that there’s always been some design­er or oth­er who wants to give me clothes. For the last lit­tle while Hedi Sli­mane has wardrobed me” (Cullen 258). Appar­ent­ly Sli­mane sent some ear­ly designs to Bowie, who com­ment­ed that “The stuff was appar­ent­ly influ­enced by the film The Man Who Fell to Earth, and it was all that very slim-line black, and it’s very much become his sig­na­ture look” (qtd. in Cullen 258).9 The David Bowie Is… cat­a­logue includes images of the 2002 blue silk suit that Sli­mane designed for Bowie’s Hea­then tour, the same kind of skin­ny suit that Karl Lager­feld famous­ly lost 90 pounds in order to be able to wear (Fig­ure 6). When Sli­mane won the Coun­cil of Fash­ion Design­ers of Amer­i­ca award for inter­na­tion­al design­er in 2002 (the award Hel­mut Lang won in 1996), Bowie was there to present him with it.

Figure 6 Slimane-designed suit for Bowie (photo: S. Ingram)

Fig­ure 6 Sli­mane-designed suit for Bowie (pho­to: S. Ingram)

Figure 7 One of the images from Stages that Hedi Slimane republished on the occasion of Bowie’s death. (“Hedi Slimane’s Tribute to David Bowie”)

Fig­ure 7 One of the images from Stages that Hedi Sli­mane repub­lished on the occa­sion of Bowie’s death. (“Hedi Slimane’s Trib­ute to David Bowie”)

The week Bowie died, in Jan­u­ary 2016, Sli­mane post­ed images of Bowie that he had tak­en as part of his Stage project, which point to a decid­ed sense of loss (Fig­ure 7).10 He also pub­lished a touch­ing­ly per­son­al trib­ute to Bowie in the 2016 spring issue of the Vic­to­ria & Albert Museum’s V&A Mag­a­zine, in which he con­fess­es that Bowie was some­thing of a tal­is­man­ic, god-like fig­ure for him:

July 1975.
I open my birth­day present and I meet David for the first time, at the age of seven.
David Live, record­ed in Philadel­phia one year before, is about to change my life.
My sister’s best friend, Veronique Jamin, puts the vinyl on my low-fi turntable.
Veronique is fif­teen, the pret­ti­est thing. She wears a black vinyl jump­suit and puts blue glitter
on her eyes.
She plays and sings along: Aladdin Sane.
I am used to see­ing her danc­ing, throw­ing back her beau­ti­ful hair, but this time it’s different.
This is about Bowie.
I lie down on the bed and observe the dou­ble album cov­er, the pow­der-blue sus­pend­ed suit
of Fred­die Buret­ti. The pale fig­ure, the hero­ic pos­ture, the slick elec­tric hair.
I look at David. I am not quite sure if it is a boy or a girl.
I don’t care. I am the same anyway.
From this day, 5 July 1975, Bowie will pro­tect me.

8 June 1983. Hip­po­drome d’Auteuil. My first concert.
There are about 100,000 peo­ple. I am excit­ed and scared at the same time by the raw energy
of the crowd.
I will nev­er for­get how I felt that day.
I became a teenag­er when I walked into that venue.
David takes the stage: The Jean Genie.
100,000 girls and boys like an ocean under a storm.
Mod­ern Love, and it’s over. I will nev­er be the same.
My life was ahead of me.

David died and left us alone.
I lost my child­hood, I lost my youth.
Noth­ing will ever be the same. (All­wood) (cf. Vic­to­ria and Albert Muse­um).11

The anec­dote depict­ed in the ini­tial part of the poem seems to have been com­mon knowl­edge, giv­en that it was used to open a 2006 piece enti­tled “Pret­ty Things” in the New York­er:

Hedi Sli­mane sits alone in his room, in a pleas­ant but not very fash­ion­able part of Paris, moon­ing over an album cov­er. He has just turned six. The year is 1974. The record, a birth­day gift from a friend of his old­er sis­ter, is “David Live”—David Bowie, record­ed at the Tow­er The­atre in Philadel­phia. The friend, Véronique, likes to put on a blue jump­suit and imi­tate Bowie. She does a good Mick Jag­ger, too. Sli­mane is cap­ti­vat­ed by her. He is also cap­ti­vat­ed by the album cov­er, which fea­tures a pho­to­graph of Bowie onstage, dressed in a pow­der-blue dou­ble-breast­ed suit: the jack­et is cut short, with nar­row but square shoul­ders, and the pants, although pleat­ed and bil­lowy in the legs, are tight at the crotch. Bowie looks blood­less and ema­ci­at­ed, well on his way to his “Thin White Duke” phase, dur­ing which he sub­sist­ed, as he lat­er said, on “pep­pers, cocaine, and milk.”
Taste has to come from some­where. Thir­ty years lat­er, after Sli­mane has become a cel­e­brat­ed fash­ion design­er who occa­sion­al­ly claims that he has no prece­dents or influences—who declares, “I have no nostalgia”—he allows that his sen­si­bil­i­ty owes a lot to “David Live” and to the ear­ly sight of this cool and cadav­er­ous androg­y­ne strik­ing an angu­lar pose. “When you’re a kid, you stare at things like this,” he says. “There is a moment of iso­la­tion in your room—a moment, maybe, of bore­dom.” There are many things that can con­tribute to a boy’s sense that anoth­er world exists out there, but, in 1974, noth­ing quite beat album cov­ers, David Bowie, or old­er girls in blue jump­suits (Paum­garten).

In his poet­ic trib­ute to Bowie a decade lat­er, Sli­mane returns to this scene to cor­rect the year and his age—it was 1975 so he was sev­en not six, and the colour scheme—it was Veronique’s eye glit­ter that was blue, not the jump­suit, which was black vinyl. Call­ing her “the pret­ti­est thing” both hear­kens back to and makes explic­it the ref­er­ence in Nick Paumgarten’s title to Bowie’s “The Pret­ti­est Star,” one of the tracks on the 1973 Aladdin Sane. Its cov­er is the one fea­tur­ing the colour­ful thun­der­bolt make­up that was select­ed from all of Bowie’s albums for the cov­er of David Bowie Is… cat­a­logue, but repur­posed so that the eyes return the view­ers’ gaze for the cat­a­logue instead of remain­ing down­turned as they were on the album cov­er.12

These con­nec­tions encour­age us to return to Slimane’s Berlin res­i­den­cy. While he, like Bowie, had also lived in Los Ange­les and New York, it is not those cities but rather the influ­ence of Berlin and a key part of its urban imag­i­nary that can be shown to pro­vide a ger­mi­nal link between the two. The images of Bowie that Sli­mane repro­duced as a trib­ute were first tak­en in 2003 for his Stages project, that is, the year after his Berlin stay, after he had designed Bowie’s Hea­then tour suit, and Bowie had pre­sent­ed him with the Coun­cil of Fash­ion Design­ers of Amer­i­ca award for inter­na­tion­al design­er. Slimane’s expe­ri­ences dur­ing his artist res­i­den­cy in Berlin from 2000 to 2002 bear a strik­ing resem­blance to Bowie’s heady stay in the city from 1976 to 1978. In both cas­es the artists were escap­ing sit­u­a­tions that were not good for them (Bowie, Los Ange­les; Sli­mane, YSL), and Berlin proved a fer­tile space for inno­va­tion. Slimane’s Berlin stay result­ed not only in the first of sev­er­al pho­tog­ra­phy books, but also exhi­bi­tions at the Kunst­werke, MOMA/PS1 in New York, and the Koy­ana­gi Gallery in Tokyo. Like Bowie, Sli­mane was able to find inroads into the kind of locals he could relate to in Berlin, but not only in Berlin, of course. As not­ed in The New York­er:

Sli­mane also col­lects places. Paris bores him; it lacks a youth cul­ture, or a sense of ener­getic dis­en­chant­ment. He lives there because it is his home, and couture’s. (He has an apart­ment on the Quai Voltaire, over­look­ing the Seine and the Lou­vre.) And so for stim­u­lus he choos­es oth­er cities. Like David Bowie’s humanoid alien in “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” who came here to pro­cure water for his own plan­et, Sli­mane spends a lot of his time in this or that town, qui­et­ly observ­ing its cit­i­zens and ways, in order to extract its visu­al resources. In recent years, it’s been Lon­don. He dis­tills some kind of Lon­don­ness, fil­ters it through a Paris ate­lier, and offers it back, in sus­penders and fan­cy boots (Paum­garten).

When he first began at Dior, Sli­mane sent the locals he encoun­tered in Berlin down the run­way to change the look of men’s fash­ion just as deci­sive­ly as Bowie’s Berlin albums changed the sound of pop music:

Sli­mane is said to have trans­formed the male sil­hou­ette. He pro­duced jack­ets that were cut short, with nar­row, square shoul­ders, and teamed them with very skin­ny trousers – exquis­ite­ly made, super-tight tai­lor­ing that was designed with rock stars in mind, but was greet­ed with so many stand­ing ova­tions on the cat­walk that pret­ty soon every­one from Ver­sace to Top­man ref­er­enced Dior Homme in their col­lec­tions (Davis).

No less an author­i­ta­tive fash­ion fig­ure than inter­na­tion­al edi­tor Suzy Menkes claims to have sensed “an under­cur­rent of Berlin’s unset­tling his­to­ry” in Slimane’s Dior Homme shows, “and espe­cial­ly in [his] photographs—there is: dense dark­ness, dan­ger, Weimar deca­dence, a grind­ing Com­mu­nist regime, bru­tal build­ings, shady cel­lars, nihilis­tic deprav­i­ty” (Menkes), some­thing that can also be heard in Low, “Heroes, and Lodger, which are cred­it­ed, in their exper­i­men­tal min­i­mal­ism, with pick­ing up on the dark cur­rents that fas­ci­nat­ed Bowie about the city and had brought him there (cf. T. J. Seabrook).

Bowie’s influ­ence on Sli­mane is rem­i­nis­cent of Christo­pher Isherwood’s on Bowie. Bowie was cap­ti­vat­ed by what had tak­en Ish­er­wood to Berlin in the 1930s, just as Sli­mane was by what had tak­en Bowie there in the 1970s. How­ev­er, while Bowie was attract­ed to the dark his­tor­i­cal ele­ments of Berlin that Menkes describes, which he found in Isherwood’s work as well as in Ger­man expres­sion­ist art,13 Sli­mane seems to have been attract­ed to the look ema­nat­ing from Bowie’s con­nec­tion to the city, specif­i­cal­ly the 1981 film Chris­tiane F/ Wir Kinder vom Bahn­hof Zoo. Chris­tiane Felscherinow’s teenage expe­ri­ences with drugs and pros­ti­tu­tion were first turned into a best­selling reportage by two Stern reporters, which Uli Edel then turned into a cult film that mem­o­rably fea­tured a Bowie con­cert and sound­track. Felscheri­now has gar­nered, if not exact­ly enjoyed, a cer­tain mea­sure of renown ever since and recent­ly pub­lished a mem­oir in an attempt to advo­cate for sup­port and assis­tance for drug depen­den­cy, some­thing she still strug­gles with (Felscheri­now and Vukovich; cf. Ingram).

Befit­ting Felscherinow’s cult sta­tus, it is not dif­fi­cult to find images of her younger self online, and it is also not dif­fi­cult to ascer­tain her lifestyle from them.14 It is not just the case, how­ev­er, that Felscheri­now belonged to a slight­ly ear­li­er ver­sion of the Berlin scene from which Sli­mane drew his inspi­ra­tion. Rather, as is appar­ent from images online from Chris­tiane F: Wir Kinder vom Bahn­hof Zoo, it was the film ver­sion of her sto­ry, which fea­tures a cult-induc­ing sound­track by Bowie, includ­ing “Heroes/ Helden” and “Boys Keep Swing­ing,” from which Sli­mane drew his aes­thet­ic inspi­ra­tion (Fig­ure 8, Fig­ure 9). That so many black-and-white images of a colour film cir­cu­late online via Google images speaks to the broad­er pop­u­lar­i­ty of this aes­thet­ic, high­ly influ­en­tial on Sli­mane and others.

Figure 8 Christiane F. Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo (Images ©1981 Solaris Film, Maran Film, Popular Filmproduktion, CLV-Filmproduktions, Süddeutscher Rundfunk)

Fig­ure 8 Chris­tiane F. Wir Kinder vom Bahn­hof Zoo (Images ©1981 Solaris Film, Maran Film, Pop­u­lar Film­pro­duk­tion, CLV-Film­pro­duk­tions, Süd­deutsch­er Rundfunk)

Figure 9 collage from Slimane’s Berlin collection (S. Ingram)

Fig­ure 9 col­lage from Slimane’s Berlin col­lec­tion (S. Ingram)

While Sli­mane does not seem to have writ­ten any poems about the film or com­ment­ed on it in inter­views, one can see from the fol­low­ing images that it is not mere­ly the hero­in chic look of Chris­tiane F. that is at issue, but rather a stance (Fig­ure 10, Fig­ure 11), one clear­ly asso­ci­at­ed in Chris­tiane F. with Bowie and Bowie fandom—shooting from the back over the shoul­der, a look which has become one of Slimane’s trade­marks (Fig­ure 12) (Fig­ure 13).

Figure 10 Christiane F. Wir Kinder vom Bahnof Zoo, looking at Bowie poster (Images © 1981 Solaris Film, Maran Film, Popular Filmproduktion, CLV-Filmproduktions, Süddeutscher Rundfunk)

Fig­ure 10 Chris­tiane F. Wir Kinder vom Bah­nof Zoo, look­ing at Bowie poster (Images © 1981 Solaris Film, Maran Film, Pop­u­lar Film­pro­duk­tion, CLV-Film­pro­duk­tions, Süd­deutsch­er Rundfunk)

Figure 11 Christiane F. Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo, at the concert (Images © 1981 Solaris Film, Maran Film, Popular Filmproduktion, CLV-Filmproduktions, Süddeutscher Rundfunk)

Fig­ure 11 Chris­tiane F. Wir Kinder vom Bahn­hof Zoo, at the con­cert (Images © 1981 Solaris Film, Maran Film, Pop­u­lar Film­pro­duk­tion, CLV-Film­pro­duk­tions, Süd­deutsch­er Rundfunk)

Figure 12 One of the images of Bowie from the back from the Stage collection that Slimane republished on the occasion of Bowie’s death

Fig­ure 12 One of the images of Bowie from the back from the Stage col­lec­tion that Sli­mane repub­lished on the occa­sion of Bowie’s death

Figure 13 random collage of Slimane photos (S. Ingram)

Fig­ure 13 ran­dom col­lage of Sli­mane pho­tos (S. Ingram)

In adopt­ing this stance as one of his sig­na­ture aes­thet­ics, Sli­mane was mak­ing a loca­tion­al rela­tion to Bowie premised on a styl­is­tic con­nec­tion to “poor but sexy” Berlin, which served to estab­lish him as the same kind of resist­ing artist as Bowie, inter­est­ed in cre­at­ing images and styles that run counter to rep­re­sen­ta­tions of the dom­i­nant bour­geois order and that sim­i­lar­ly pro­pelled him to star­dom.15

This notion of loca­tion­al rela­tion can also help us to gauge the imag­i­na­tive dis­tance between Berlin and Vien­na. I am not sug­gest­ing that Vien­na has not, or can­not, serve as a site of counter-mem­o­ries that work against the grain of the dom­i­nant rep­re­sen­ta­tions of sub­jec­tiv­i­ty. Indeed, Wiener Chic details where many such loca­tions are to be found, which would have pro­vid­ed Hel­mut Lang with the type of fash­ion space he was seek­ing had they exist­ed while he lived there. Whether the detec­tives in Soko Donau, who solve crimes involv­ing peo­ple and sub­stances traf­ficked into and out of Vien­na and its sur­round­ings (Fig­ure 14); the Iran­ian migrant in I Love Vien­na (Houchang Allah­yari, 1991), who has to help his sis­ter and son find their way in their new and not exact­ly hos­pitable envi­ron­ment (Fig­ure 15); or the musi­cian who has to extri­cate him­self from shady deal­ings involv­ing pirat­ed Whit­ney Hous­ton CDs in Blu­trausch (Thomas Roth, 1997, Fig­ure 16); they all find them­selves in loca­tions that work against the grain of, rather than in con­junc­tion with, the city’s dom­i­nant rep­re­sen­ta­tion of impe­r­i­al splen­dour. When they take to land, the Soko Donau detec­tives do not ride in the kind of style one tra­di­tion­al­ly asso­ciates with the city: the Fiak­er or horse-drawn car­riage (Fig­ure 17); the Iran­ian migrants find them­selves housed in one of the city’s seed­i­er dis­tricts with pros­ti­tutes for neighbours—the 2. Leopold­stadt, which has in the mean­time under­gone sub­stan­tial gen­tri­fi­ca­tion (Fig­ure 18, cf. Suit­ner)); and the Blu­trausch musi­cian, who is played by Ost­bahn Kur­ti, one of Vienna’s most colour­ful coun­ter­cul­tur­al char­ac­ters, ends up in bondage after being abduct­ed at a punk con­cert at the Are­na (Fig­ure 19). Even when tourist sites do appear in these pro­duc­tions, they are rubbed against the grain to show how lit­tle the impe­r­i­al his­to­ries they stand for mat­ter in the lives of con­tem­po­rary res­i­dents from and on the periph­eries (Fig­ure 20).

Figure 14 Soko Donau on water (Images © 2008 ZDF and ORF)

Fig­ure 14 Soko Donau on water (Images © 2008 ZDF and ORF)

Figure 15 arriving at the Südbahnhof in I Love Vienna (Images © 1991 epo-film)

Fig­ure 15 arriv­ing at the Süd­bahn­hof in I Love Vien­na (Images © 1991 epo-film)

Figure 16 the Beisl in Blutrausch (Images © 1997 Dor Film Produktionsgesellschaft/ Österreichischer Runkfunk (ORF);

Fig­ure 16 the Beisl in Blu­trausch (Images © 1997 Dor Film Produktionsgesellschaft/ Öster­re­ichis­ch­er Runk­funk (ORF)

Figure 17 Soko Donau on land (Images © 2008 ZDF and ORF)

Fig­ure 17 Soko Donau on land (Images © 2008 ZDF and ORF)

Figure 18 leaving the hotel in the 2nd district in I Love Vienna (Images © 1991 epo-film)

Fig­ure 18 leav­ing the hotel in the 2nd dis­trict in I Love Vien­na (Images © 1991 epo-film)

Figure 19 concert in the Arena (Images © 1997 Dor Film Produktionsgesellschaft/ Österreichischer Runkfunk (ORF)

Fig­ure 19 con­cert in the Are­na (Images © 1997 Dor Film Produktionsgesellschaft/ Öster­re­ichis­ch­er Runk­funk (ORF)

Figure 20 irreverent treatment of statue in I Love Vienna (Images © 1991 epo-film)

Fig­ure 20 irrev­er­ent treat­ment of stat­ue in I Love Vien­na (Images © 1991 epo-film)

How­ev­er, because these pop­u­lar cul­ture pro­duc­tions have remained periph­er­al to Vienna’s high-cul­ture rep­u­ta­tion, on which its tourist sta­tus as a Euro­pean cap­i­tal of cul­ture rests, they have not been able to pro­vide an entic­ing enough envi­ron­ment to lure Lang back to Vien­na from the idyll of Long Island, where he has resided since retir­ing from fash­ion and devot­ing him­self to art.16 At least not yet per­ma­nent­ly. Lang’s most recent solo exhi­bi­tion, “Var­i­ous Con­di­tions,” was in the Stad­traum Gallery in Vien­na and the Samm­lung Friedrichshof in the Bur­gen­land in the sum­mer and fall of 2017 (http://​www​.​h​-lang​.stu​dio), while a Hel­mut Lang Archive recent­ly opened in Vienna’s Muse­um of Applied Arts (see Fig­ures 23-26). It is there­fore not impos­si­ble that he may relo­cate back to Aus­tria at some point, just as Ver­usch­ka returned to Berlin from Brook­lyn in the after­math of 9/11 with the sec­ond Bush presidency.

Urban imag­i­nar­ies are by no means sta­t­ic con­struc­tions. The gen­tri­fi­ca­tion Berlin is cur­rent­ly expe­ri­enc­ing may even­tu­al­ly under­mine its “poor but sexy” rep­u­ta­tion. The Ramones Muse­um in Berlin is now in its third loca­tion and may well end up hav­ing to decamp yet again to a more afford­able space, either on the city’s periph­ery or out­side the city alto­geth­er (Fig. 0-22).17 What seems cer­tain at this point is that the like­li­ness of its mov­ing to Vien­na is com­pa­ra­ble with the like­li­ness of Hel­mut Lang return­ing to the city—for pre­cise­ly the same rea­son: they would not feel com­fort­able with, or want to be seen as aligned with, the con­tours and shad­ings of the fad­ed splen­dor of Vienna’s impe­r­i­al imag­i­nary, which still remains large­ly untouched by the Vien­nese pro­duc­tions men­tioned here and stuck in “the world of yes­ter­day” (Zweig) that once housed great writ­ers such as Zweig, Wittgen­stein, Freud, and Schnit­zler, and from which a resis­tant fash­ion design­er such as Hel­mut Lang has in the past gone to great lengths to dis­tance him­self.18 That Berlin has bought into the under­stand­ing of itself as a place in Braidotti’s sense of a set of counter-mem­o­ries can be seen in its cham­pi­oning of its Bowie con­nec­tion: the build­ing at Haupt­strasse 154-155, in which Bowie lived dur­ing his stay in the city in the 1970s, now has a com­mem­o­ra­tive plaque on it and the street is now called “David Bowie Strasse,” at least on post­cards Fig­ure 21). Indeed, giv­en the cen­tral­i­ty of the coun­ter­cul­tur­al imag­i­nary of Berlin that attract­ed Bowie and Sli­mane in motor­ing the city’s cur­rent gen­tri­fi­ca­tion, one has to ques­tion in how far it can tru­ly be con­sid­ered coun­ter­cul­tur­al and not sim­ply imag­i­nary, in the psy­cho­an­a­lyt­ic sense—that is, the realm through which the ego is con­sti­tut­ed in a fan­ta­sy-dri­ven process of nar­cis­sis­tic iden­ti­fi­ca­tion. What can be con­clud­ed is, as has been demon­strat­ed here by illus­trat­ing this con­tri­bu­tion as lav­ish­ly as it has been, no mat­ter how Berlin’s and Vienna’s urban imag­i­nar­ies con­tin­ue to evolve, the styl­is­tic index of fash­ion will be able to help estab­lish their loca­tion­al relationality.

Figure 21 Flo Hayler in front of the original Ramones Museum location in Kreuzberg (courtesy of Flo Hayler)

Fig­ure 21 Flo Hayler in front of the orig­i­nal Ramones Muse­um loca­tion in Kreuzberg (cour­tesy of Flo Hayler)

Figure 22 a postcard showing a street sign at Hauptstrasse 154/155, taken in January 2016 by Ute Volz (photo: S. Ingram)

Fig­ure 22 a post­card show­ing a street sign at Haupt­strasse 154/155, tak­en in Jan­u­ary 2016 by Ute Volz (pho­to: S. Ingram)

Fig­ures 23-26 images from the new­ly opened Hel­mut Lang archive in the base­ment of Vienna’s MAK—Museum of Applied Arts (pho­tos: S. Ingram)

Works Cited

All­wood. “Exclu­sive: Read Hedi Slimane’s Touch­ing Trib­ute to Bowie.” Dazed. 16 Mar. 2016. 17 Aug. 2016. www​.dazed​dig​i​tal​.com/​f​a​s​h​i​o​n​/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​/​3​0​3​9​5​/​1​/​e​x​c​l​u​s​i​v​e​-​h​e​d​i​-​s​l​i​m​a​n​e​-​s​-​t​o​u​c​h​i​n​g​-​t​r​i​b​u​t​e​-​t​o​-​b​o​wie. Accessed 4 Dec. 2018.

Arnold, Rebec­ca. Fash­ion, Desire and Anx­i­ety: Image and Moral­i­ty in the Twen­ti­eth Cen­tu­ry. Rut­gers Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2001.

---. “Hero­in Chic.” Fash­ion The­o­ry, vol. 3, no. 3, 1999, pp. 279-295.

Bauer, Karin, and Jen­nifer R. Hosek, eds. Cul­tur­al Topogra­phies of the New Berlin. Berghahn Books, 2017.

Blaa­gaard, Bolette, and Iris van der Tuin, eds. The Sub­ject of Rosi Braidot­ti: Pol­i­tics and Con­cepts. Blooms­bury Aca­d­e­m­ic, 2014.

Bow­stead, Jay McCauley. “Hedi Sli­mane and the Rein­ven­tion of Menswear.” Crit­i­cal Stud­ies in Men’s Fash­ion, vol. 2, no. 1, 2015, pp. 23-42.

Bre­ward, Christo­pher. “For ‘We Are the Goon Squad’: Bowie, Style and the Pow­er of the LP Cov­er, 1967-1983.” David Bowie Is the Sub­ject, edit­ed by Vic­to­ria Broack­es and Geof­frey Marsh. Lon­don: V & A Pub­lish­ing, 2013, pp. 193–201.

Cullen, Ori­ole. “Changes: David Bowie’s Life Sto­ry.” David Bowie Is the Sub­ject, edit­ed by Vic­to­ria Broack­es and Geof­frey Marsh, V&A Pub­lish­ing, 2013, pp. 235-281.

Davis, John­ny. “Hedi Sli­mane: ‘Maybe I Have to Start Design­ing Again.’” The Guardian 21 Mar. 2011, www​.the​guardian​.com/​l​i​f​e​a​n​d​s​t​y​l​e​/​2​0​1​1​/​m​a​r​/​2​1​/​h​e​d​i​-​s​l​i​m​a​n​e​-​d​e​s​i​g​n​e​r​-​p​h​o​t​o​g​r​a​p​her. Accessed 13 Mar. 2017.

Felscheri­now, Chris­tiane, and Son­ja Vukovich. Chris­tiane F. - Mein zweites Leben Auto­bi­ografie. Berlin: Deutsch­er Lev­ante Ver­lag GmbH, 2013.

Glińs­ki, Mikołaj. “Did David Bowie Know Esperan­to? The Invent­ed Lan­guage of Warsza­wa & the East­ern-Euro­pean Sto­ry Behind It.” Cul​ture​.pl. 15 Dec. 2016. cul​ture​.pl/​e​n​/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​/​d​i​d​-​d​a​v​i​d​-​b​o​w​i​e​-​k​n​o​w​-​e​s​p​e​r​a​n​t​o​-​t​h​e​-​i​n​v​e​n​t​e​d​-​l​a​n​g​u​a​g​e​-​o​f​-​w​a​r​s​z​a​w​a​-​t​h​e​-​e​a​s​t​e​r​n​-​e​u​r​o​p​e​a​n​-​s​t​o​r​y​-​b​e​h​ind. Accessed 7 Sept. 2018.

Hedi Slimane’s Trib­ute to David Bowie.” Some­thing About Mag­a­zine. 13 Jan. 2016. some​thingabout​magazine​.com/​h​e​d​i​-​s​l​i​m​a​n​e​s​-​t​r​i​b​u​t​e​-​t​o​-​d​a​v​i​d​-​b​o​wie/. Accessed 3 Sept. 2016.

Ingram, Susan. “Tak­ing a Walk on the Wild Side: Berlin and Chris­tiane F.’s Sec­ond Life.” Cul­tur­al Topogra­phies of the New Berlin, edit­ed by Karin Bauer and Jen­nifer Ruth Hosek. Berghahn Books, 2018. 53–72.

Ingram, Susan, and Markus Reisen­leit­ner. L.A. Chic: A Loca­tion­al His­to­ry of Los Ange­les Fash­ion. Intel­lect Ltd, 2018.

---. Wiener Chic: A Loca­tion­al His­to­ry of Vien­na Fash­ion. Intel­lect Ltd, 2013.

Ingram, Susan, and Kat­ri­na Sark. Berlin­er Chic. Intel­lect Books, 2011.

Massey, Doreen. Space, Place, and Gen­der. New edi­tion. Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta Press, 1994.

Mavrody, Mika. “See How These Six Cor­po­ra­tions Con­trol the Lux­u­ry Fash­ion Indus­try.” the­Fash­ionSpot. 30 Apr. 2014. www​.the​fash​ionspot​.com/​b​u​z​z​-​n​e​w​s​/​l​a​t​e​s​t​-​n​e​w​s​/​4​0​1​1​0​7​-​a​t​-​a​-​g​l​a​n​c​e​-​s​e​e​-​h​o​w​-​t​h​e​s​e​-​s​i​x​-​c​o​r​p​o​r​a​t​i​o​n​s​-​c​o​n​t​r​o​l​-​t​h​e​-​l​u​x​u​r​y​-​f​a​s​h​i​o​n​-​i​n​d​u​s​t​ry/. Accessed 5 Sept. 2018.

Menkes, Suzy. “Hedi Sli­mane: ‘Ich Bin Ein Berlin­er.’” The New York Times 24 June 2003. NYTimes​.com. www​.nytimes​.com/​2​0​0​3​/​0​6​/​2​4​/​n​e​w​s​/​2​4​i​h​t​-​r​p​h​o​t​o​_​e​d​3​_​.​h​tml. Accessed 17 Aug. 2016.

Paum­garten, Nick. “Pret­ty Things.” The New York­er 13 Mar. 2006. www​.newyork​er​.com. www​.newyork​er​.com/​m​a​g​a​z​i​n​e​/​2​0​0​6​/​0​3​/​2​0​/​p​r​e​t​t​y​-​t​h​i​ngs. Accessed 23 July 2017.

Quinn, Bradley. “‘Rad­i­cal’ Fash­ion? A Cri­tique of the Rad­i­cal Fash­ion Exhi­bi­tion, Vic­to­ria and Albert Muse­um, Lon­don.” Fash­ion The­o­ry: The Jour­nal of Dress, Body & Cul­ture, vol. 6, 2002, pp. 441-445.

Rees-Roberts, Nick. “Boys Keep Swing­ing: The Fash­ion Iconog­ra­phy of Hedi Sli­mane.” Fash­ion The­o­ry, vol. 17, no. 1, 2013, pp. 7-26.

---. “Raf Simons and Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Fash­ion from Post-Punk to Neo-Mod­ern.” Fash­ion The­o­ry, vol. 19, no. 1, 2015, pp. 9-41.

Seabrook, John. “The Invis­i­ble Design­er.” The New York­er 18 Sept. 2000. www​.johnseabrook​.com/​t​h​e​-​i​n​v​i​s​i​b​l​e​-​d​e​s​i​g​n​er/. Accessed 7 Sept. 2018.

Seabrook, Thomas Jerome. Bowie in Berlin: A New Career in a New Town. 1st ed. Lon­don: Jaw­bone Press, 2008.

Suit­ner, Johannes. Imag­i­neer­ing Cul­tur­al Vien­na: On the Semi­otic Reg­u­la­tion of Vienna’s Cul­ture-Led Urban Trans­for­ma­tion. Vien­na: Tran­script Ver­lag, 2015.

Vic­to­ria and Albert Muse­um. “V&A Mag­a­zine.” 2 Mar. 2016.

Zweig, Ste­fan. The World of Yes­ter­day. Trans. Anthea Bell. Reprint edi­tion. Uni­ver­si­ty of Nebras­ka Press, 2013.


1 My work on Berlin and Vien­na has been bol­stered over the years by more con­fer­ence engage­ment than can be enu­mer­at­ed here, but I would like to acknowl­edge the sup­port of the co-edi­tors of this spe­cial vol­ume, Kat­ri­na Sark and Ele­na Siemens, as well as gen­er­al edi­tor Markus Reisen­leit­ner. Imag­i­na­tions’ extreme­ly well informed peer review­ers were also very help­ful in get­ting me to nuance and expand on key aspects of this piece and, in par­tic­u­lar, to clar­i­fy its focus on the cities and not the design­ers. I hope it is now clear how this focus sup­ports the piece’s implic­it fem­i­nist, new mate­ri­al­ist approach. I also should men­tion that the title is a delib­er­ate mash­ing of the titles of two David Bowie songs: “Boy Keep Swing­ing” and “Where are We Now?” My title is there­fore not a pla­gia­riz­ing of Rees-Roberts, “Boys Keep Swing­ing”; rather, it is the case that we are both allud­ing to the same song. 

2 To pro­vide a sense of how these sta­tis­tics fit in in terms of Europe: as of Decem­ber 2016, there were over 1400 images on the site for both Paris and Milan, 535 for Flo­rence, 327 for Lon­don, 129 for Stock­holm, 42 for Rome, 36 for Madrid, 31 for Moscow, 21 for Barcelona, 10 for Munich, and 9 for Ham­burg, 6 for Brus­sels, and 2 for St Peters­burg. Out­side of Europe, there are 48 for Syd­ney, 16 for Mel­bourne, 61 for Tokyo, 9 for Bei­jing, 5 for Shang­hai, 12 for Los Ange­les, and 7 for San­ta Fe. In the Cana­di­an con­text, there are 4 for Toron­to, 3 for Van­cou­ver, and 1 for Mon­tre­al. That Scott Schumann’s home base of NYC has the most (1531) of any city I checked is, of course, what one would expect. 

3 My thanks to Imag­i­na­tions’ review­ers for sug­gest­ing I explic­it­ly engage with these works. They proved very help­ful in clar­i­fy­ing my focus. 

4 Lang’s asso­ci­a­tions with Vien­na are enu­mer­at­ed in the “Design­er Chic” chap­ter of the Vien­na vol­ume of the Urban Chic series (Ingram and Reisen­leit­ner, Wiener Chic). I do not want to be mis­un­der­stood to be sug­gest­ing that Lang has come to be known as either a “Vien­nese” or an “Aus­tri­an” design­er. On the con­trary, it is his par­tic­u­lar form of cos­mopoli­tanism and its lack of rela­tion to either Vien­na or Aus­tria that I am seek­ing to clar­i­fy here. If one wants to locate his lack of con­nec­tion to the city, one could do so by not­ing that he has described the ado­les­cence he spent in the city with his father and moth­er-in-law as “the most unhap­py peri­od of my life” (J. Seabrook, qtd. in Ingram and Reisen­leit­ner, Wiener Chic 161).

5 An exam­ple of Lang’s intran­si­gence is his not appear­ing in per­son to accept CFDA’s Menswear Design­er of the Year award in 1996, which “was not tak­en kind­ly by the indus­try: ‘We all have to do things we won’t want to some­times,’ said André Leon Tal­ly, the edi­tor-at-large of Vogue. Anna Win­tour described Helmut’s deci­sion as ‘a mis­take. […]. If I had known he wasn’t com­ing, I would have called him. It was dis­cour­te­ous not to turn up” (J. Seabrook qtd. in Ingram and Reisen­leit­ner, Wiener Chic 162–63).

6 Slimane’s pen­chant for rein­vent­ing brands is indeed, as one of the peer review­ers men­tioned, note­wor­thy: first, “rebrand­ing […] the Dior menswear line (from the fusty Chris­t­ian Dior Mon­sieur to the hip Dior Homme” (Rees-Roberts, “Boys Keep Swing­ing” 7), then updat­ing Yves Saint Lau­rent to the slick­er Saint Lau­rent, and most recent­ly redesign­ing Céline’s logo to remove the accent.

7 Anoth­er design­er rel­e­vant to the dis­cus­sion of post-punk subculture’s influ­ence on fash­ion, as Nick Rees-Roberts has not­ed, is Raf Simons (Rees-Roberts, “Raf Simons and Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Fash­ion from Post-Punk to Neo-Modern”).

8 This is not to deny that Berlin was a base for Bowie’s ori­en­ta­tion to East­ern Europe, which one can see per­haps most clear­ly in “Warsza­wa” (Glińs­ki), but only to insist on Berlin’s centrality.

9 Again, I would not want to be mis­un­der­stood as sug­gest­ing that the Sli­mane-Bowie rela­tion­ship was exclu­sive. Of course, Bowie wore clothes by oth­er design­ers, just as Sli­mane designed for oth­er singers and bands. What I am try­ing to flag as sig­nif­i­cant is the his­tor­i­cal moment of their inter­sec­tion and the role of Berlin on that relation.

10 They can all be viewed at (“Hedi Slimane’s Trib­ute to David Bowie”). A few also appear in “Stage 2, June 2003” Rock Diary, Hedi Sli​mane​.com (https://​www​.hedis​li​mane​.com/​d​i​a​ry/).

11 I repro­duce the poem in whole not only because it is not easy to come by but also so that oth­ers can expand on the lim­it­ed read­ing I can offer here, as my top­ic is their Berlin con­nec­tion. There is much more work to be mined from Bowie’s influ­ence on Sli­mane and the shift to Eng­lish that this poem represents.

12 For the pow­er of Bowie’s ear­ly LP cov­ers, see Breward.

13 His paint­ings in this style were on dis­play in the Berlin room of the “David Bowie Is…” exhibition.

14 More dif­fi­cult to ascer­tain is the copy­right sta­tus, so instead of repro­duc­ing them, I refer read­ers to a site where they are col­lect­ed: https://​www​.pin​ter​est​.at/​p​i​n​/​5​5​8​0​9​4​5​7​8​7​9​4​5​1​2​2​61/.

15 Not all celebri­ties aspire to bour­geois val­ues like the Kar­dashi­ans. While it is true that Bowie did “set­tle down” in the final part of his life, he did not do so in a sub­ur­ban Cal­abasas way but rather skew­ered that lifestyle in his late work, such as the video for “The Stars Are Out Tonight.” Nei­ther do Sli­mane or Lang ascribe to sub­ur­ban fam­i­ly val­ues. Both encour­age the prac­tice of non-main­stream crit­i­cal­ly artis­tic existences.

16 It is intrigu­ing, as one of the peer review­ers not­ed, that Lang retreat­ed to the Amer­i­can east coast, while Sli­mane has grav­i­tat­ing toward the west coast, spend­ing his break between Dior and Saint Lau­rent in Los Ange­les, where he com­plet­ed the pho­tog­ra­phy col­lec­tion Cal­i­for­nia Song, and then mov­ing the major­i­ty of Saint Laurent’s design stu­dio to the city dur­ing his stint as the label’s cre­ative direc­tor (Ingram and Reisen­leit­ner, L.A. Chic 3). Putting Arnold’s and Rees-Roberts’s work on punk and post-punk togeth­er, one could make an argu­ment for the impor­tance of gen­er­a­tion. That Lang is 12 years old­er meant that he was con­front­ed with the onset of the con­sol­i­da­tion of the glob­al fash­ion sys­tem into con­glom­er­ates such as LVMH (see Mavrody) after he had already estab­lished his own brand and was there­fore in a posi­tion to walk away from the indus­try to a shel­tered, upscale artist’s stu­dio in a set­ting that remind­ed him of his hap­py child­hood in the Aus­tri­an alps. Sli­mane, on the oth­er hand, had to make his way through the throes of this con­sol­i­da­tion and uses the fact that he does not have his own fash­ion label to take time out between his fash­ion gigs to cul­ti­vate his artis­tic pur­suits, par­tic­u­lar­ly photography.

17 See Ingram and Sark 172–74 for an account of the first two locations.

18 An exam­ple of an Aus­tri­an fash­ion design­er who has embraced that world of yes­ter­day is the Graz-born Lena Hoschek, who is known for her fash­ion-for­ward dirndls.