In-The-Street Bitch: High End Streetwear With Alexander Kirchner - The Reykjavik Grapevine

In-The-Street Bitch: High End Streetwear With Alexander Kirchner

In-The-Street Bitch: High End Streetwear With Alexander Kirchner

Published July 17, 2017

Hannah Jane Cohen
Main photo by
Art Bicnick

Fashion designer Alexander Kirchner arrives to our interview wearing a pair of welding sunglasses. Black metal, wiry, chunky, they seemed designed to leave a hideous tan line.

To be blunt, Kirchner could best be described as a 101 personality. Everyone knows him and everyone has an opinion. Perhaps it’s because of his appearance. Easily over 190 cm tall, he has a swarthy complexion, incredible style, and shiny long hair, or as he says, “Long hair, don’t care!” Perhaps it’s his charisma. He’s pathologically social and knows everyone everywhere . Or perhaps it’s simpler— he does things like wear welding sunglasses.

It’s fitting then that his signature design motif is a seatbelt trim with “ALEXANDER KIRCHNER” written in bright gold letters on it. “You will know my name.” He tells me. “I mean, I’m really starting my line now, so I thought: You will know my name.” It’s a good catchphrase, but the thing is, most in Reykjavík already do.

Attention whores and Vera Wang

Listening to Kirchner describe his work is like eavesdropping on a teenager talking about their besties. That’s how passionate he is. “My first piece was some hooker dress for my friend. She was like, ‘Oh my god, I love it!’ My favourite was a multicolored attention whore fur coat. That was hard to sew.” As much as he loves colour, though, black is his go-to in every way. “People who only wear black are the most colorful people. It’s big and beautiful. Black is the new fucking black.” There’s another catchphrase.

“People who only wear black are the most colorful people. It’s big and beautiful. Black is the new fucking black.”

In the last few years, Kirchner has concentrated mostly on wedding dresses, helping other Icelandic designers, working on pieces for music videos and theatre, and tailoring. Wedding dresses are a particular passion: “Right now I am working on a hooded one in white beige for a friend. Wedding dresses are so personal, which is why I like making them. I would never produce a line of wedding dresses ever, that doesn’t seem right. I am not Vera Wang.” He laughs and mock shutters. “Oh, please put that in! I am not Vera Wang… yet.”

High end hype

“In Iceland, the fashion community is small, obviously,” Kirchner begins. He leans back. “We are all trying to make high end couture shit, but in different ways than—” A Fila-clad blonde with cheek piercings yells out Kirchner’s name, interrupting him. They kiss and have a short conversation, the second time our talk is paused by a trendy-looking downtown rat. Even camped out in Hressó—not a typical Kirchner haunt—there’s no escaping his popularity.

When she leaves, he seamlessly returns to his thought thread. “High end street is coming though. I would characterize myself as that. I make fancy, fancy, fancy shit that’s still loyal to the streets.” He smirks. “Industry bitch? Nah, I’m in-the-street bitch.” There’s the catchphrase.

“So much about fashion nowadays is hype”

Eygló—the cover star of this issue—is a personal favourite in the scene. “She has a sense of humour in her clothing. It’s this playful je ne sais quoi.” Inklaw is another. “Those guys are so talented, so so so talented, but man they are fucking crazy. That IKEA shit!” He’s referring to the limited edition jumpsuit line the Inklaw boys put out in response to the $2,145 Balenciaga- IKEA tote bag frenzy. “I mean c’mon,” Kirchner continues, “Balenciaga was not attempting any IKEA stuff. Everyone knows that, but it was a hype and so much about fashion nowadays is hype.”

“Vetements? Louis Vuitton x Supreme? Think of that Supreme x Louis Vuitton hooker-looking top with the open stomach and bouncing tits in that stupid Iggy Azalea “Mo’Bounce” video. It’s chic but it’s not chic. It just makes hype.” He rolls his eyes. “But, of course, I relate. I mean, look at my stuff: Alexander Kirchner. Alexander Kirchner. That’s hype. As I said before, you will know my name.” Boom. Catchphrase.  

Post-apocalyptic health goth

In March, Kirchner had his first fashion show, which, he says, is when everything hit off for him. “I was not accepted into [Reykjavík Fashion Festival]. My creative director Lukka was like, ‘OMG, that is great!’ ‘To not get into RFF?’ ‘Yes, that’s amazing!’ She said, ‘Let’s just do a show ourselves!’ So we did.” He smiles, leans into the microphone. “You are my muse, Lukka.”

“Completely black or white, Kirchner’s looks emitted an industrial bondage feel—fitted but utilitarian, like a post apocalyptic health goth.”

The show was held in combination with a large concert, lit completely by the blue headlights of a group of surrounding Mercedes and outlined by smoke. Kirchner laughs. “All the photographers were like, fuck, really?” The collection had 24 outfits, which were “kind of pornographic, kind of chic, kind of hip-hop, kind of rock and roll, kind of dark.” Completely black or white, Kirchner’s looks emitted an industrial bondage feel—fitted but utilitarian, like a post apocalyptic health goth.

“I think a lot of it was inspired by the beats in songs or the attitude of music.” He starts naming examples: Kanye, Busta, Missy, Timbaland. “But afterwards I was like, ‘Lukka Lukka, what the fuck? We did it!’” He smiles. “It went much better than I thought, but of course I will never be too happy about anything. I am always evolving and everything can always be better.” There’s that true artist ethos. “But now I understand more about this business so I know what I can do next. Fashion is harsh.”

Fuck your skirt up

But what’s next? Alexander pauses, smirking. He looks away but you can almost hear wicked wheels turning in his head, searching for a pithy catchphrase or dramatic response. At this point in the interview, I’m used to it.

“I start thinking that maybe he’s not joking, but finally Kirchner turns around and laughs. He’s a good actor.”

“Well, that is none of your concern, Hannah Jane.” He says before putting his bizarre welding sunglasses back on. “This interview is over. You have been excused.” Without breaking character he gets up and walks to the door. I start thinking that maybe he’s not joking, but finally Kirchner turns around and laughs. He’s a good actor.

“Ok well I just shot my own lookbook to send to stores.” He shows me some of the shots on his phone. “I am also making a webstore and looking to mass-produce some stuff.” He pauses. “Yeah, but it’s hard, I am so used to being selective, being able to sell to the people I would want to wear my stuff.” He names some recent customers, all local artists and rappers. “This is business though. I have to figure like—Alex, drop the personal stuff. Just don’t give a fuck about who buys it, but hopefully it is someone amazing.” For now, contact him directly for a piece. Everything is custom, bespoke, and priced accordingly.

“In the end, it is only fabric though.” Kirchner says as we start packing up. “It can be a breath of fresh air in a bag.” He gets up, grabbing his jacket. “But, you know, you might stain your shirt. You might get into a fight.” He puts back on those chunky glasses and brushes his long hair back. “Or you might have super sex and fuck your skirt up.” He throws the jacket on. It’s oversized, streamlined; the gold letters of “Alexander Kirchner” glitter in the sunlight. He smirks. “And for everyone reading this: Don’t put anything in your face that you can’t eat.” He mimes faux-seriousness. “And drink a lot of water. It’s good for you, Ok, now you are excused.”

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