White is like a laboratory – The methodological approach of Sissi Goetze

Sissi Goetze’s research during her MA studies at the prestigious menswear course at Central Saint Martins contained multiple, often contradictory sources. She placed images ranging from her favourite movie characters of American cinema, like Rocky Balboa or mid century Western superstar Paul Newman next to images of formal boys clothing, Spanish toreros, children’s work wear of the industrial era or the uniform of the Young Pioneers, a former GDR youth organization. What was it that caught her eye in this seemingly random selection?
Growing up in former East Germany in an artist household with her mother being a stage designer and her father a visual artist the family decided to flee from Dresden and an oppressive regime to Munich before the fall of the iron curtain in 1989. Sissi quickly became fascinated by American pop culture, something which she hasn’t been exposed to as a child due to the political circumstances. Learning about this culture through cinema screens and TV shows gave her the role of an observer just like she observed the developments of her continuously disintegrating former home country. This gaze of an observer, of a cultural analyst is something she would encounter once again when moving to London for her MA studies in 2008.
Aiming to refine her skills in designing menswear, Sissi spent days in the library researching men’s dress throughout the last century. She had a particular interest in images displaying proportions then uncommon to the contemporary eye. It quickly became obvious she would not settle for a particular time or clothing reference but rather find the relevance in synthesizing all she encountered throughout her upbringing arguing that despite the distant cultural gaze, may it be informed by silver screen, through newspapers or TV shows, identities in her cultural surrounding were formed by these references. She concluded that to dress contemporary men she would need to merge these influences all at once. In her conceptual approach she decided to strip the collection off one of its core characteristic, material and colour variations.
The entire collection was to be produced from one material and in one colour only, namely white cotton poplin. Layering this poplin up to three times allowed her to create garments like jackets and coats, which are usually constructed from heavier materials. This black canvas proved to be ideal to integrate and merge all the references she found important to mention. Through experiments in pattern drafting aiming to combine even contradictory elements in one garment, Sissi developed her now iconic hybrid sleeve construction, a merge between a classically inserted and a raglan sleeve. WHITE is like a laboratory and Sissi Goetze’s methodological approach as an independent designer still stems from the research and experiments she developed during her MA. It is a reconstruction of a scattered male identity informed by multiple sources and one may even argue that the ubiquitous presence of school uniforms and the reminiscences of youth cultures in London’s everyday streetscape made their way into this collection.