“It has become a monster, as you can see,” said Philipp Plein tonight at Hammerstein Ballroom, referring to the set and the crowd and the subsequent growth of his namesake brand (which, still to the bafflement of many, is hard to compute). Does he really spend that much of his revenues on his now notoriously majorly produced and celebrity-heavy shows? The budget alone for his Spring theater was more than likely in the seven figures. Before Plein spoke, Dita Von Teese performed a sparkly burlesque, slinging off her disco-ball Louboutins before swirling around in a yet further crystallized martini glass prop.
Afterwards, somebody from the photo pit shouted, “Now it’s your turn, Nicki!” Minaj, seated front row, flipped him two birds. (We’re guessing Minaj’s presence was also paid for.) Once the runway portion of the show started, Future provided the soundtrack and everyone from Fifth Harmony to Yo Gotti was in the room. Hammerstein was packed to its bursting point, and the spectacle—expensively raunchy, as is Plein’s norm—was exactly that; a hell of a show, but actually not as hellish as some have been in the past.
Plein showed women’s and men’s concurrently, under the theme “Good Gone Bad.” His recurrent logo was a ball-gagged and bonded Alice in Wonderland character (or was it Elsa from Frozen?). Some T-shirts read Plein Fairytale Crew. Was it a fairy tale? No. And cheaply glamorizing that logo and idea was icky, but some other pieces were brief flashes of, let’s say, decent dreams—the kind that flicker through the night quickly and might be hard to remember come morning, but still appeared all the same.
For women, this included dresses that were new to Plein’s repertoire. There was a long-sleeved black satin and frilly number with barely any skin showing. It was borderline funereal. There was also a tiered-and-pleated white gown that was over-styled with leather straps, but it’ll look good on its own. And there was even a full brocade ball skirt. Unexpected! Short cropped tees and sequined anorak jumpsuits were more in line with Plein’s modus operandi, but these had a more approachable charm. Sort of.
For men, the standout pieces were jackets—including an alligator moto that, Plein has said, does well in his stores despite its high five-figure price tag. Elsewhere, it was much of the same; high-top sneakers, acid-washed jeans, brief waistbands proudly flaunting the Plein moniker beneath barracks of abs.
With all of that being said, there’s something else to mention about Plein: Despite the impossible door (crowds were left stranded out on 34th Street), the man is inclusive. His cast had everyone from Teyana Taylor to Kinoshita Manama to Rae Sremmurd to Matthew Noszka to Adriana Lima. The audience, too, was as diverse as any we’ve ever seen. And at the end of it all, it was admittedly pretty fun to see Lima snapping her Rapunzel-length hair like a bullwhip. Plein will always piss some people off, but, maybe if taken with a bit more humor or lack of seriousness, even the hardest of haters could thaw. Tonight might have helped that cause.