PHILIPP PLEIN | Badazz Brilliance

Born 16 February 1978 (age 37)
Munich, Germany, Nationality German
Occupation Fashion designer

images (15)The first PHILIPP PLEIN boutique was opened 2009 in Monte Carlo and by the end of 2014 the flagship stores worldwide will total over 40, including Milan, Paris, Dusseldorf, New York, Los Angeles, Moscow, Hong Kong, Seoul and Dubai.  The PHILIPP PLEIN boutiques are characterized by the use of black and white stone, polished steel, exotic skin upholstery, enormous Murano glass chandeliers and the trademark giant skull studded in CRYSTALLIZED™ – Swarovski Elements.  

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Philipp Plein was studying law when he began designing furniture for family and friends. Soon his designs drew attention from experts within the interior design industry and in 1998, the company PHILIPP PLEIN was founded in Münich, Germany.

To avoid wasting any material, Plein started making bags and accessories from the leftover exotic leathers, which were sold alongside his design pieces at trade fairs. In 2003 the 25 year -old entrepreneur was asked to design a lounge at the German trade fair CPD Dusseldorf, for Moet & Chandon, where he was also allowed to sell his accessories. In one day he made over € 100.000. The law degree was dropped, as was the furniture, and the fashion brand was born a year later in 2004.In the autumn of 2014 the Russian model Katya Sambuca threatened litigation Philipp Plein for selling men’s t-shirts for $ 450 each with a picture of a naked model without her permission.

The highlight of his first collections were vintage military jackets which he embroidered with Swarovski skulls and sold at the Maison et Objet in Paris, allowing him to also attract attention from members of the fashion world.

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In 2008 Philipp Plein presented his “heavy metal” collection on the occasion of “Germany’s Next Top Model” fashion show presented in Barcelona by Heidi Klum    In 2009 he collaborated with Mattel and presented the PHILIPP PLEIN Barbie doll during Barbie’s 50th Birthday celebrations at the Nuremberg Toy Fair .

In the same year, the first mono-brand store was opened in Monte Carlo, and the first commercial showroom in Milan. The relatively unknown brand at the time began to follow an aggressive worldwide retail expansion strategy that would result in the opening of over 30 flagships in top international shopping destinations in under 4 years.

In 2010 PHILIPP PLEIN boutiques opened in Vienna, Moscow, St. Tropez, Cannes, and Kitzbuhel in addition to the opening of a commercial showroom in Düsseldorf. The spring/summer 2011 women’s wear fashion show debuted at Milan fashion week in September and took place in .a deconsecrated 16th century church filled with white roses, with after party DJ set by Pierre Sarkozy, who was also face of the men’s spring/summer 2011 ad campaign.

The brand embarked on a communications strategy featuring Hollywood “bad girls” as advertising testimonials, promoting the brand’s rebellious and rock and roll image. Mischa Barton was chosen for the fall/winter 2010 season, while Lindsay Lohan posed for the Spring/Summer 2012 campaign. In 2011 PHILIPP PLEIN boutiques opened in Forte dei Marmi and Düsseldorf, and the Hong Kong showroom was inaugurated.  The FW 2011 women’s fashion show taking place in February featured a pre-show orchestra performance, this time featuring DJ set by Peaches Geldof.

In 2012, 10 PHILIPP PLEIN boutiques were opened, in Marbella, Moscow Crocus, Baku, Milan, Dubai, St. Petersburg, Seoul, Macau, Amsterdam and Berlin.  The British actor and singer Ed Westwick was photographed by Terry Richardson, who also made cameo appearances himself in the fall/winter 2012/2013 campaign. Westwick also walked the runway for the men’s spring/summer 2013 fashion show.

In 2012 PHILIPP PLEIN signed an agreement with the soccer team AS Roma to dress the team players starting with the 2012/13 season for 4 consecutive seasons. For the spring/summer 2013 campaign, Terry Richardson returned as both photographer and protagonist of a campaign featuring the international top models Lea T. and Poppy Delevingne Lea T. went on to open the spring/summer 2013 fashion show in September, which also featured Italian showgirl Elisabetta Canalis on the catwalk.

In 2013 retail expansion included the opening of flagship stores in Porto Cervo,a 3rd store in Moscow, Paris,] Miami, Casablanca, Courchevel, Kiev, Hangzhou, and a 2nd and 3rd store in Seoul in addition to the inauguration of the New York showroom, a bi-level penthouse on 5th Avenue overlooking Central Park.[31] The military inspired men’s FW 2013 fashion show included a giant helicopter and gun wielding tattooed soldiers on the runway. The women’s fashion show was opened by Grace Jones onstage performing her hit “I’ve seen that face before.” The artist performed further hits during the after show party.

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During Milan’s Spring/Summer 2014 menswear show in June a Las Vegas style casino was created with model Isabeli Fontana introducing the show by hitting the jackpot on a gigantic slot machine. Rap star Iggy Azalea opened the women’s Spring/Summer 2014 show performing her hit Work,  followed by only black models on the runway headed by Liva Kebede.. This was considered a controversial statement in an industry where black models are often less successful than their white counterparts. Photographer Francesco Carrozzini went on the photograph an all black cast for the Spring/Summer 2014 ad campaign. A video by photographer Steven Klein marked the launch of the men’s underwear collection for the spring/summer 2014 season.

2014 store openings include Hong Kong, Los Angeles and New York, In addition to Ibiza, Bodrum, Doha, the first PHILIPP PLEIN duty free at Vienna airport and the 2nd Milan flagship.  The men’s Fall/Winter 2014 was created by fashion show producer Etienne Russo and featured a Western frontier town complete with a shootout amongst real cowboys and live horses.  The women’s FW 2014 show featured pop star Rita Ora climbing out of a black El Camino to sing her hit Face Melt. Naomi Campbell opened the fashion show followed by models Irina Shayk and Anne V. As a finale the El Camino along with the rest of the stage was engulfed in an explosion of real and virtual flames.

The men’s spring summer 2015 fashion show and after party took pace in an abandoned historic public swimming pool refurbished for the show. A group of synchronized swimmers started the show with a water ballet; American rapper Theophilus London performed live on a jet ski, and models walked around the pool in marine-inspired outfits. In January 2015 Snoop Dogg performed after a cage match at the men’s FW 15 fashion show, followed by the women’s show in February that featured a full sized functioning roller coaster that models rode after their catwalk lap.  January 2015 also saw the debut of Philipp Plein as a talent scout jury member alongside Raffaella Carrà, Asia Argento and Joaquin Cortés in the Italian TV program “ForteForteForte.”

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Part of the problem, as Plein sees it, is that his taste runs toward the populist. “I’m not designing to please the press,” he says. “I’m designing for the people.” To that end, he does not produce a separate runway collection for the purpose of inspiring editorial coverage. Everything he designs, he sells. His choice of spokesmodels betrays a similar common touch. In 2011, when Lindsay Lohan was in full train-wreck mode, Plein, who was at one time rumored to be dating the actress, cast her for his spring campaign. Though his company, based in Lugano, has a meaningful presence in Milan, the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, Milan Fashion Week’s governing body, has not put his shows on the official calendar, “because the fashion industry is a mafia,” he says, smirking. “And they just want to protect their ranks. If I want to show, I have to be classified as an ‘event.’ ” Well, if it’s an event they require, Plein is happy to give them one. He has hired Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora to perform at his nighttime runway shows and at his after parties. Last fall’s gas station–themed show, at which Ora played and Naomi Campbell walked the runway, featured real explosions—some a bit too close for the comfort of the crowd. Plein’s stalwart PR department invites thousands of people to these shows, and thousands more wait in line outside. “Last year was like a Backstreet Boys concert, with people fainting outside, trying to get in,” he recalls, showing me a photo on his phone. “People say, ‘Are you crazy? Why are you doing this?’ And

I say, ‘I want to enjoy and make people happy.’ That’s what fashion is about.” Philipp_Plein_Portrait

That’s one idea of fashion. But in today’s industry, dominated by heritage brands and, relatively speaking, discreet luxury, Plein remains a curious case. Still, his niche includes a free-spending public whose shopping circuit encompasses not just the traditional fashion capitals of Paris and Milan but also Monte Carlo, Moscow, Marbella, and Dubai. “I follow the money,” Plein says. “Because I have to sell. I can’t afford to open a shop just for image.” Men’s wear now accounts for more than half of the brand’s total sales; Plein feels less competition in a world where even Dolce & Gabbana has abandoned gentlemanly flash. “My men’s customer is a footballer, a guy like Cristiano Ronaldo,” he explains. “He’s in his 20s, drives a Ferrari or Lamborghini, has a diamond necklace, diamond earrings, and a beautiful girl. These guys don’t want to look like their lawyers—wearing Brioni or Tom Ford—but they want to look expensive. I like to call it ‘the right amount of wrong.’ ” 

“Philipp is passionate in whatever he takes on, but in a warm and pleasant way, not cynical and tricky,” says his friend Lapo Elkann, whose Italia Independent sunglasses have been featured in Plein’s shows. “He runs a fast-growing business, but it has a family energy.” Well, that depends on one’s definition of “family.” During their time off, when the staffers aren’t battling to the death on the Foosball machine in the downstairs playroom, they’re working out in the home gym or getting a massage from the therapist who is on call. Next to a swimming pool that might have come straight out of a Duran Duran video, there is a refrigerator stocked with Moët & Chandon. Everything in the Plein universe points to someone who really, really likes his stuff, but the man himself insists his playthings are less important than how he got them all in the first place. “To me, the real luxury of my life is living my dreams,” says Plein, his German-accented rat-a-tat-tat slowing a bit as he surveys his marble-and-mirror domain. “To start living your dreams, you have to have balls.”

Some excerpts taken from  W Magazine April 2015 


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