Lazoschimdl is the name given to the momentous artistic union between Josef Lazo and Andreas Schmidl - the two people behind one of the few brands that is paving the way in men’s fashion and breaking down new doors of expression that we - as a society - have for years been afraid to open. The two consider the pertinent topic of the objectification of both men and women, whilst simultaneously trying to do away with old-timey concepts like that of masculinity, which they believe to not exist.
Not only have they merged their individual spirits, they have done the same with their academic disciplines, bringing together fashion design and literature in order to compose not simply a statement, but an entire story, not just a moment, but a perpetuity.
Today we have the honour of welcoming the ingenious duo, Josef Lazo and Andreas Schmidl, who are behind the eponymous brand of menswear, Lazoschmidl. How are you both doing today and how has 2022 been treating you so far?
Hi, we are happy to meet you. We’re preparing the next Paris show and finalising the collection which is always a very emotional moment to see things coming together and forming a unity.
From my understanding your brand was established less than a decade ago, yet it seems as though you have already contributed to some profound changes in how men’s fashion is handled as well as how it is portrayed in the industry, through your non-gender-adhering clothing. Do you feel as though this is just the beginning?
Hmm, our brand evolved very organically and is formed by a natural understanding of equality and freedom of expression. Thus, our brand has been on the forefront, yes, but the intention is more intrinsic. And definitely, this is just the beginning.
Both of you have studied such differing yet incredibly compatible disciplines; Josef, you completed your degree at the LCF in Womenswear, whereas Andreas, you contrastingly completed your studies in Frankfurt where you received a master’s qualification in German and Japanese literature. Apart from the two languages being an atypical combination, both of your educational backgrounds are responsible for the creative direction which Lazoschimdl has taken since its inception. Could you please tell us more about how you thought of merging these two disciplines into a single entity?
Having studied literature and writing for magazines, Andreas has dived into the universe of fashion when meeting Josef in London and we collaborated on a book for Josef’s graduate collection. From there on, we experimented with small capsule collections that were based on writing. Each collection is based on a creative piece, i.e. a short story, song lyrics or poem.
Since Lazoschmidl is anything but typical, you have also expressed how each of your collections are first developed through writing before they are projected onto materials and manufacturing processes. What exactly do you mean by this and how does such a particular creative process begin?
Based on the written piece, we dress the characters. We formulate who is wearing what and then we start drawing looks and developing patterns.
Not only are you dedicated to collaborating your backgrounds in literature and fashion design, but you also bring cinematography into the mix, as seen in your last three collection films: Spring/Summer 2021’s Margarita, Autumn/Winter 2021’s Cake, and Overdose for Spring/Summer 2022 and It’s Over for Autumn/Winter 2022. Overdose directed by Julius Hayes, the latter one exhibits the vulnerable side of masculinity and encourages people to feel secure in their masculinity – whatever their definition of this may be. In the film we see young men readily embrace each other and share eye contact in one of the most strictly gender adhering, traditionally masculine spaces – the urinal. Though it may sound trivial, it has resonance within a changing fashion industry more open to gender bending and expression. What did you wish to convey through this film and its collection?
For us it is a normality and to portray how men feel today no matter of sexual orientation. We are all in this together and love and sympathy unites us all. More hugs, more smiles, more happiness.
Alongside wholesome embraces and pensive eye contact, the boys are also shot in colourful LED lights taking photos of themselves in the mirror and championing confidence. Though bathroom selfies are stereotypically a group feminine activity, your film’s depiction of this from the male perspective helps de-stigmatise and detach gender from these activities, making them appear light-hearted and as something which is open to any and everyone. Would you like to see such an open attitude in regard to menswear to be adopted by more brands in the industry?
It’s the Lazoschmidl boy’s reality and self-confidence. You are proud of who you are. And this will always attract positivity and success in the future.
All four of your most recent collection films have been very music driven. Would you say that music, as well as literature and fashion design, also inspires your work?
Music is very important, Andreas writes the songs based on lucid dreaming and together with Carl Hjelm, we record original tracks. So it’s very personal.
Let’s talk a bit about the clothes. Unafraid to explore the vulnerable side of menswear, your Spring/Sumer 2021 collection – featured on your website includes full body swimsuits which sport slightly revealing cut outs in the chest and stomach areas, helping shed some of the hyper-masculine stereotypes which are normally embodied in men’s swimwear collections; the Spring/Summer 2022 speedos are similarly revealing, along with shiny patent bodies and snug fitting tops. Has your ‘bold’ (as perceived by mainstream fashion which adheres to conventional gender roles) sense of clothing always received positive acclaim since 2014? Or have you sensed changes in how it was seen then versus now?
The perception is quite consistent. One of our first shows Velvet & Cream featured negligé tops in silk and glitter bodysuits - while always maintaining a louche Rock’n’Roll vive. Harry Styles wore our sheer chiffon shirt in one of his videos, and Zara Larsson our sequin jumpsuit for a Times Square performance for Good Morning America. So our foundation has proven to be stable and relevant. Which of course, makes us very happy. And masculinity, personally, we do not think exists anymore. We are humans. And we also recognise people embracing this new reality and expression of life.
What do you think about non-gender adhering expression through fashion becoming more of a trend recently, especially with the help of different high-profile celebrities embracing androgynous looks, such as, Harry Styles? Do you believe there is a certain risk in perceiving non-binary clothing as a surface level, temporary fashion statement rather than something which is part of a much larger social movement?
Actually no. The more, the better. Also, in the case of Harry Styles, it is hundred percent authentic and real and heart-felt.
For years, the fashion industry has been predominantly occupied with the sexualisation and fetishisation of women through clothing; this has been much more pervasive for women than men, even culminating to what we now know as the male gaze. Do you believe your sexual representations of men (or perhaps borderline objectification of them) in your collection films especially is a progressive move, since it shifts the focus of sexualisation from women unto men? Or does it perhaps adhere to the same objectifying ideas of gender that have been pervading women since the beginning of media?
This is a great topic worth writing a book about. Men are being objectified. Women are being objectified. Today less than in the 90s, 70s or 50s or the 1920s. The real sexual revolution is yet to come.
Naturally many people are intrigued about what you two will do next; tell us a bit about what the future of Lazoschmidl looks like!
The future is always a fantasy.