Berlin-based label DSTM‘s lookbooks are a perennial favorite in Berlin. Since the brand’s inception, designer JEN GILPIN has worked in tandem with photographer and 032c collaborator MAXIME BALLESTEROS, who is also her husband. Together, the pair create photographs imbued with a dark femininity. Black leather and silk dominate the looks, and Ballesteros has his models pose in contorted positions, creating imagery reminiscent of David Cronenberg’s 1996 film adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s Crash. 032c presents a selection of the duo’s most recent work for the DSTM SS16 look book as well as a short interview with Gilpin.
DARRYL NATALE: Maxime is both your husband and close artistic collaborator on all the DSTM look book shoots. How has your working relationship with him evolved? Have you seen an impact on your design aesthetic or on his photography?
JEN GILPIN: Maxime and I met while I was working on the first DSTM collection in 2009. Our love story defiantly influenced the brand. We did the first shooting together for it and the image has been evolving ever since. I have come to understand his aesthetic very well over the years. I like to give him space to push the boundaries so we can evolve and create a unique story for DSTM.
We do have crossover into each other’s work, but at the same time keep them separate. For DSTM, he is my sounding board and photographer for every collection. For his work, I am his assistant on bigger shoots, and we talk together fulfilling the ideas and concepts.
The brand has moved closer and closer towards lingerie since its first collection. Has this been a conscious progression since you started, or did it come as a surprise that you began moving in this direction?
When I moved to Berlin from Montreal my plan was to start a lingerie label. I started with clothing as a continuation of my previous work, but now have found the voice and style of what I would like to say with the bodywear. I have always loved lingerie. My first job at 15 was in a boutique, and later on at Agent Provocateur in 2002. We did our first lingerie fair in Paris, in July, and received a great response.
Where do you draw the line between lingerie and day-to-day attire?
I am interested in working on top of this line, where lingerie and clothing are blended and accentuate each other. To dress with the first intimate layer and find clothing over top that plays with what is underneath. The bodywear is made from performance fabrics and has a fit similar to sports bras. There is no underwire or traditional closures. Most pieces also work as swimwear as well, using mesh infused with aloe vera and soft fabrics that caress the skin.
I am very interested in functionality in design. I strive towards creating collections that can take you through life with ease and comfort. Easy to travel with, wash, and wear in any situation. Touch is of the upmost importance: the clothing should be like a soft hug. A concept of ease of dress, along with an expression of mood.
What are some of your cinematic or visual influences for DSTM?
I love the combination of a tough, seductive, and elegant woman. My influences come from many places, but a short list at the moment would be art deco and art nouveau, traditional Japanese design, film noir, sci-fi, architecture, geometry, fetish, nature, and the unconscious.