Fashion, design and literature blend perfectly in this carefree and homoerotic menswear brand. Designers Josef Lazo and Andreas Schmidl nod to popular culture, contemporary and post-contemporary art while challenging all conventions, social and cultural stereotypes, and gender roles. They claim to design for a new human who isn’t defined by race, age or gender but for its aesthetics and mindset. Fantasy is their language and freedom their purpose. Meet Lazoschmidl.
Andreas, Josef, for those hearing about you for the first time, could you sum up in one sentence what Lazoschmidl is?
Liberation, sensuality, body, rebellion, glamour, freedom.
You are not only a designing duo but also a couple. What is the most valuable thing that you’ve learnt from each other so far? And how do you balance your personal life with your working environment?
We have learnt from each other to question and reevaluate ideas but also to just follow our instincts. Our lives have merged into each other and have become a continuous bouncing off of thoughts and visuals via WhatsApp.
You state that “Lazoschmidl works as an artists’ studio that unites the disciplines of fashion design and literature”. Could you elaborate more on this? What role does literature play in your work?
Each collection is developed from writing. We base the looks on short scripts or poems and start dressing our characters. Depending on time and space, the character’s outfits vary from chapter to chapter – for example, from soft lurex loungewear to glittery disco attire.
Such a bold and powerful statement like yours has for sure a strong inspirational background. Who or what would you say have been your references when creating your imaginary and your designs?
We very much love the concept of Gilbert & George dedicating their life together to art and creating a continuous dialogue within each other’s minds. This lifetime idea of creation interests us a lot. Their use of language and popular culture, as well as a nonchalant approach to the usually unspoken, creates a body of work that revisits familiar ideas and signature elements but tells a new story with each gallery show. So it is rather this impetus that inspires us than the actual artwork.
You founded the brand in 2014. How’s the journey been so far? And when did you first realize you were achieving some success and recognition?
We started the label as an experiment and attempt to combine our skills. Since we already share an aesthetic universe it was very easy to choose our design language, which somehow instantly resonated with the people around us and organically grew into a brand. We are very honored that our tone of voice has been heard by fantastic industry experts, iconic photographers, renowned stylists and writers. Being picked for the Opening Ceremony has been a true bliss and acknowledgement.
You guys have claimed that your designs are made for those who are defined by their mindset and aesthetics rather than their race, age or gender. How would you describe this attitude and mentality you design for?
We encourage people to try something new, taste the forbidden fruit. Everyone should be free to dress sexy or risqué – and to wear all those things they have been told not to wear.
Your Spring/Summer 2019 collection is “a response to the adolescent reading of Roald Dahl and Franz Kafka”. What influence have these authors had on the collection, from the creative process to the final garments?
Both writers created pieces about metamorphosis that combine the surreal with bittersweet horror. We wanted to use the principle of innocent adolescence as a leitmotif and imagined the interior of a teenage bedroom to expand and absorb the body. Carpets, curtains and wallpaper became the garments while shattered glass and stuffed animals turned into embellishments.
Some of the pieces feature unpublished work by the great filmmaker Bruce LaBruce. How do you think his work complements yours, and what layers of meaning does it add to the collection?
The photographs are intimate portraits of Bruce LaBruce with one of the cast members of Super 8 1/2. What we love about his work is the brutally natural, unfiltered way of expression combining the explicit with a romance (which made these images a perfect match to the collection) taken from a movie our characters would watch while holding hands.
In the current fashion scene, there seems to be a tendency of designing clothing regardless of gender roles and beyond all conventions of ‘traditional masculinity’. Designers like Alejandro Palomo (Palomo Spain), Neil Grotizinger (Nihl NYC), or Vasilis Loizides are just some examples. How do you feel this sort of ‘movement’ will evolve? Is masculinity as we’ve known it about to disappear?
We feel that it is a natural progression. To us, it is not framed as a question of masculinity because the spectrum has always existed. Rather it can be seen as a reflection of the reality around us and providing an alternative or a range of clothing between minimalism and maximalism, classicism and flamboyance.
Your underwear, for instance, has become one of your most popular pieces since it has the logo written backwards so when people take a selfie on the mirror the name of the brand can be perfectly read. And this shows you’re very aware of how people create images, wear your clothes and, especially, show them. How do these technological, social media-driven times influence the way you design or approach your work?
It is the way most of us communicate and consume, and therefore it is again a very natural way for us to connect with others. We prefer it when people discover us and form their opinion instead of pushing our message in multiple channels. Creating our fanzine for each collection is a way to visualize our concept in a very unrestricted way and let the pictures speak for themselves. Then, they reappear from the printed pages on Instagram to close the circle of communication.
What are you guys working on at the moment? What are your current expectations and what are your plans for the future?
We are working on a little surprise collection for Opening Ceremony revisiting favorite pieces from our archive. And then there is Fall/Winter 2019, of course, and the writing for Spring/Summer 2020 has also already started. There are so many more stories to tell! And we are here to stay.