Oct 18, 2016
Turkish designer sticks it to Trump on Tokyo runway
Oct 18, 2016
Embattled Donald Trump got two fingers from the most unlikely of places Tuesday -- the Tokyo catwalk at a fashion show inspired by his bete noire: the working Mexican in Texas.
Umit Benan, the Turkish designer born in Germany, educated in Switzerland and based in Milan, made his debut at Japan Fashion Week by transforming an Asian city runway into the Texan desert.
He covered the catwalk in sand, planted giant green cacti and burnt gorse bushes, and past it all strode male models dressed in outfits that fused Mexican colours and fabrics with the American West.
Benan, who has shown his designs in Paris for the last five years, called the spring/summer 2017 collection "Los Bastardos," which he later translated as "little smart arses, but in a positive way."
The designer's life-long work is a study in contrasts stemming from his own nomadic life and exotic background. This time, his inspiration came through a series of road trips through Texas and New Mexico.
There were striped pajama-style trousers paired with sharp blazers, stone-washed jeans worn with a leather backpack, blue denim, leather baseball caps and safari-style jackets with belts knotted at the back.
It was Western cowboy meets Italian tailoring, with the working man look popular in the United States thrown in for good measure. He picked out cacti and palm trees on the backs of jackets.
While Benan said he had been researching the concept for three years, his catwalk show could not have been more topical -- just 20 days before America goes to the polls to elect a new president -- either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, the Republican billionaire who has vowed to stop illegal immigrants infiltrating the Mexican border.
"I tell you what, every time I do a collection it always has something to do with politics but it's never that I plan it," he told AFP.
Trump, who has crashed in the polls over a series of scandals, has enraged Mexico and inflamed American liberals by vowing to build a wall on the Mexican border in an attempt to halt illegal immigration.
"It's so much based on exactly the Mexican-American border, it's insane, but it's really my inspiration," Benan explained.
The designer likes to call his fashion shows "a celebration of my vision" rather than a commercial enterprise per se.
So was it two fingers to Trump?
"Always," he replied to AFP, laughing.
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