At the beginning of Fall, we were invited to the VOID Showroom in Paris to have a glimpse at the Spring Summer 2016 collections of young designers coming from all over the world. This place is the perfect occasion to meet these designers and have, what can be seen as a luxury, explanations & insights by the maker herself/himself. This moment was a genuine pleasure, a wonderful experience and perhaps, the best way to comprehend a collection and the whole process behind creation. Of course, before visiting the showroom, we took a long look at the list of designers who would attend and one particular name caught almost immediately our attention: KETA GUTMANE. Without knowing anything about it, this name appealed to us and made us imagine a Japanese designer. A name with a unique sound and a certain dose of mystery. An intriguing name from a faraway country. We even checked the Instagram account of the designer and it almost reinforced our first impression. No-gender monochrome clothes (even if Keta Gutmane does womenswear). A mix of classic tailoring with a urban/street vibe. This was Keta Gutmane for us. Among all the silhouettes we saw on the internet, a stunning check printed uniform worn with a white shirt literally conquered our hearts and it was settled, we really wanted to meet this Japanese designer. So, imagine our surprise when we finally met her and realized she was not Japanese at all but from Latvia! We immediately told her about this initial thought and of course, she took it as a compliment (could it be otherwise?!).
It is never easy to design monochrome silhouettes going beyond a mere black & white outfit. Keta Gutmane's power is to imagine outfits we terribly want to own & wear NOW. She takes this much-used monochromatic palette and succeeds in giving it her very own definition. Her pieces possess their own fashion language and embrace the personality of those wearing them. The people who will wear them will definitely stand out. Indeed, it may seem easy to wear black but you have to be very careful about the pieces you're choosing. You need pieces with a soul, an imprint and something more, something you can't find on every corner. There are numerous iconoclast designers who have the colour Black anchored deep in their DNA (Rick Owens, Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe, Ann Demeulemeester, Yohji Yamamoto...) but Keta Gutmane has managed to update and revisit the idea of wearing black everyday, without being labelled as a gothic or an adept of some kind of ceremonials (even though, according to us, wearing black can be seen as a kind of ceremonial). Everybody can design black pieces but not everybody is able to re-invent and transcend this idea of a black garment. Keta sure knows how to do it.
Her Spring Summer 2016 collection is a wardrobe constituted of bold & strong pieces dedicated to those who have no inhibitions & who are not afraid to stand in a crowd. As the designer said to qualify her work, "the garments seek to empower their wearers, inventing to explore their surroundings defiantly. Ignoring the whispers and embrace the unknown". This last sentence is the kind you could find in our list of mottoes that help us to cope with this weird life. "Long oversized coats are paired with sharply tailored poplin shirting, fitted slim pants appear underneath confident woolen blazers, a billowing graphic trench features alongside grungy coated cupro skirting and breezy linen vests are donned over silky loose tops". Among those monochrome pieces, here comes the masterpiece, the one that caught our attention months ago on Instagram, the one we just can't get out of our heads: the breathtaking checkered tartan outfit composed of a big masculine coat worn over a pair of wide shorts. Showstopping! This is the kind of pieces that is absolutely Ready To Wear and that has an unexplainable power of attraction. A tartan print to rule all the other supposedly classic prints! A piece that could be worn over and over without becoming irrelevant.
Keta Gutmane has established a sustainable brand with her clothes produced in her country. With her own means, she has succeeded in creating not another black collection but a unique one, a desirable one filled with must-have pieces with a soul. The fashion industry may be saturated with collections, collaborations, Pre-Fall & Cruise, among all this mess, Keta Gutmane has managed to make her own voice heard and understood.
Art Direction: Marlo Saalmink
Photo: Martins Cirulis
MUA: Aija Udentina
Model: Starsystem Latvia, Annija
Words by Yann Sackville-West & Charles Margueritte