On Nov 29th in West Hollywood rising LA fashion designer and textile artist Michael Laed presented his first collection and runway show, “Sausage Fest”, to a delighted if initially confused audience. The conceit of the show was to reverse the positions and roles normally taken by audience and models; here the models formed the front rows while the guests walked the catwalk, completely unaware of this set-up until they were led out to the strains of Mariah’s “Hero” playing live on harp, to a rapturous reception from the models.
Says Laed, “It worked better than I had dared imagine. Initial reactions ranged from shocked embarrassment to immediate understanding of what was happening. Everyone ultimately embraced the fun of the situation but there was a real ecology of human reactions to being immersed in a social setting in which expectations are undermined, where everything has been reversed”.
A graduate of Parsons with a deep commitment to zero waste in an industry beset by it, Laed’s collection is made from 100% upcycled fabrics. As well as these ecological and moral imperatives, Laed is also driven by his emotional connection to old, used clothes. “I am fascinated by the history that worn garments possess, the life they carry, their trace of personality and the stories they can tell”.
Laed taps into this universal connection, from the seductive mystery of thrift-shopping to our private hoarding of treasured garments, near-rituals that help tell us who we are. “For this collection I had several particular points of inspiration, one being the sexual fetish with used clothing; for example, I made a top that is sewn together from the armpits of my old t-shirts, all cleaned obviously, while the purses made from women’s footwear gently reference shoe-sniffing”. Laed alsorelishes re-imagining and repurposing entire categories of apparel, from underwear to footwear; his sensational cocktail dress made from 8 pairs of women’s panties is a marvel of engineering while his Cinderella Dress with halters fabricated from evening gloves is typical of his sly wit.
Playful, wildly inventive and often laugh-out-loud funny, Laed’s work seamlessly blends pop culture into the mix. The collection’s secondary theme is an ode to juvenilia, a love song to the objects and talisman of youth, from high school locker combination locks and fidget spinners to friendship tees, belly chains and charm bracelets. Indeed this thread is expanded upon in the small exhibition of Laed’s textile work that accompanied the runway show; tapestries, soft (porn) book and matching friendship tees.
Laed’s relationship with these fabrics and garments is palpable. There is a personal history to every piece in the collection and exhibition and Laed is especially proud of using his grandmother’s curtains in several garments, old brocade familiar to him from childhood. “My grandmother is from the Alsace region of France, which is known for its exceptional meat products, “ a sausage food culture”, so that family connection also fed into the name for the show – beyond its primary, more obvious sexual connotation”.
design/brand @mlaed by MICHAEL LAED
hair @primary_colour for @luxelab using @lorealpro
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