When Swedish-born fashion designer Per Götesson travelled to Barcelona last March, he was struck by two things: the city’s dramatic architecture and the relaxed elegance of its people. So much so that these two elements laid the foundation for his newly released unisex capsule collection with Spain’s cult fashion manufacturer, Armand Basi.
Founded in Barca back in 1987, Armand Basi has remained an independent family business producing accessories, jewellery, watches and clothing. This, coupled with the brand’s sexy, subversive archive campaign imagery, made Armand Basi the perfect collaborator for Götesson. He is, after all, a designer renowned for conjuring up notions of masculinity that sit at the intersection of romance and utility.
“They provided me with a blank canvas to interpret the brand’s archives in a way that’s true to me and my work,” Götesson says. “I feel that Armand Basi completely resonates with my identity as a creative. And there’s a lot of pride in being Catalan here in Barcelona. I wanted to channel that through the collection, whilst also looking to the unique architecture that shapes the city today.”
To mark the occasion, last week Götesson filled a swanky apartment in Barcelona with models dressed head to toe in the new collection, against a sonic backdrop of booming techno. Inspired by Barcelona’s unique grid pattern (designed by pioneering urban planner Ildefons Cerdà in the 1850s and ’60s), layered shirting and lightweight knitwear featured sharp graphic lines, worn with loose-fitting, tailored trousers in brown, blue and grey hues.
Götesson was partly inspired by trade tools, too, designing apron-style outfits overlaid with silver body jewellery that was held together by chains wrapped around models’ waists and shoulders. Elsewhere, models wore delicate silver visors or marbled earrings made from Armand Basi archive buttons, which were references to the work of architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. He designed the Barcelona Pavilion, a landmark that’s all clean, modern lines and reflective marbled surfaces.
These accessories were custom-made by jeweller Husam El Odeh, Götesson’s partner and long-time collaborator. “Architecture is ultimately always optimistic,” he says. “You’re building something for the future. That’s an attitude Armand Basi carries as well.”
That’s the thing about Götesson’s work: it blends traditional craftsmanship with forward-facing design techniques (he used recycled rubber to create a heavy-duty workman’s jacket, for example), reimagining menswear in a unisex context that embodies a uniquely Catalan nonchalance. The pieces in this capsule are meant to be adaptable, lived and moved in by anyone who can see themselves wearing them.
Götesson’s come a long way since graduating with an MA in Menswear from London’s Royal College of Art in 2014. Have his ideas surrounding masculinity changed much since then?
“It’s a continuous evolution,” he says. “I don’t like stagnation and I see all the work we produce as a snapshot in time and what our outlook of the world is. Masculinity now means fearlessness, emotion and community.”