Through the pandemic, GmbH designers Benjamin Alexander Huseby and Serhat Isik have pulled back on the sexed-up clubwear that has come to define their Berlin-based label. Religion and queerness have always been part of their handwriting, but with their appointment last year as the new creative directors of Italian leather house Trussardi, the twosome have been set on amplifying the codes of the brand which made them.
“We had to ask ourselves what the core message of GmbH is,” said Isik on a pre-show Zoom. “This time it was a very personal development, looking at religion, couture and sex, which can be quite an intense cocktail.”
The demi-couture division of their label, born during lockdown, takes a starring role in their latest offering, via coats with enlarged faux-fur collars and sloped-shouldered suit jackets cut roomy, as if borrowed from your dad for a night on the town.
GmbH has often proposed its clothes as a form of armour, shielding its wearer from day-to-day. This notion is expanded on here, with the pair becoming fixated on the calligraphy that was hand-painted on the silk robes 16th-century Ottoman soldiers would wear beneath their armour. (Isik’s grandfather would write such scriptures for his family and community.)
Calling upon Syrian artist Abdelrazak Shaballot, the pair translated the phrase “safe from harm” into Arabic calligraphy, printed across silk shirting and thigh-high boots. “Ever since our very first collection, we wanted to respond to the demonisation of Muslims in Europe and the US,” says Huseby. “Even if you are a liberal person, I think Islam creates a lot of anxiety in people, and there is an aspect to it that really disturbs people when they see Arabic writing.”
“When you grow up as a Muslim, you are confronted with having to learn Arabic and exposed to the culture,” adds Isik. “These codes are something that evoke those memories, they make us feel safe.”
Photography courtesy of GmbH.