Sex, God, and garments: GmbH’s Serhat Isik and Benjamin Huseby cover all the important material. Let’s start with the garments. Banally, and separated from the context of this collection, the tailoring was excellent. Take away the wonderful and brand-identifying regal strapping and fur and we were left with a soft 1.5 breasted jacket with a high lapel that fell loosely and beautifully down the body. When worn against the thigh-highs, these jackets’ skirting generated kink, but worn against common-or-garden pants they were differently but no less potently seductive.
God is a bigger question. As Isik recalled on our pre-Zoom, it was the experienced tension between power and constraint in the atmosphere of their religious schooling as queer teenagers that prompted this season’s examination of wearable Islam-specific pieces such as the taqiya. The calligraphic Arabic was adapted from the talismanic exhortations, notes seeking protection that Ottoman soldiers would wear under their armor: Isik’s grandfather would write these out for the men of his village.
On to the sex. Here Huseby was available to lower, just to waist-height, the tone. He said: “I think it’s all the codes we’ve been playing with since the start, just amplified. So you have the club kid, the flasher, the man who looks specifically Muslim. It’s the most formal collection we’ve ever done, but I feel it’s also the kinkiest and sleaziest in a strange way.”
The word that’s so interesting there—despite the allure of others—is “strange.” Because where so much in fashion is about navigating forms of disguise, these two designers are committed to the exploration and expression of their own lived truth. I do think they are hugely influential, and that their codes are discreetly digested and delighted in by designers at other, far-bigger brands that are institutionally shackled and which consequently are compelled to dilute them. Yet what GmbH does, truth-telling, should not be “strange.”
Isik and Huseby’s first collection for Milan’s Trussardi—a house that has the most traumatically dramatic truths behind it—should be a stealth must-see at Milan Fashion Week next month. If anyone can make small leather goods talismanic, it’s GmbH.