DDR OstPunk trash couture

Inspiration for my next book photoshoot will come from DDR punks and underground fashion scene in the late 70´s and early 80s. Amazing crazy stuff... If you want to read / see more about it, look up this book: "In Grenzen frei Mode, Fotografie, Underground: DDR 1979-89" by Michael Boehlke.

"Fashion in the former East Germany was inconceivable without its political dimension. If some individuals moved freely, up to a point, with their collections, others tested the limits with their provocative look: ignoring the teenage fashion on offer from the state's retail chains HO and KONSUM, the alternative East German fashion scene displayed its need for individuality and sensuality. In principle, a lack of creativity was not unique to the official East German fashion, but there were certain tendencies to counter the uniform look with individuality. This richly illustrated book of photographs presents an initial inventory of fashion subculture in the former East Germany, showing it in the context of or in contrast to 'official' fashion. The book is simultaneously a portrait of many photographers who moved in both worlds of fashion."

I bought this book last year from Berlin.

This documentary tells more about the era and 1980s underground fashion culture in the former DDR (East Germany). The film is called Ein Traum in Erdbeerfolie (A Dream in Strawberry Foil) or Comrade Couture in English. "It’s about an elite group of models, stylists, and fashion designers who bucked the system of conformity in the DDR by creating outrageous fashion design and having underground fashion shows in abandoned churches, bath houses, and living rooms, all set to punk, Goth, and New Wave asthetics. With a distinct lack of materials, they resorted to creating imaginative and freakish clothes out of whatever materials they could get their hands on, such as striped, plastic bath curtains, hospital bags used to hold organs, or, as the film’s title implies, the plastic sheets used by farmers to cover their strawberry fields. The film includes the most gorgeous black and white photography of this group. The models look so heartbreakingly human, so stunning in these photographs, with their eyes burning into the camera, it seems. It’s fascinating to see how this group played with gender roles in their fashion, how they fought so fiercely to express themselves as individuals, how they used outlandish style to rebell against the establishment. It was the strict containment of their society that made their wild style so special."

Original trashionistas, I´d say. Fighting the fashion mass machine with anything you can get your hands on.


Outi Les Pyy

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