Pret-a-Reporter

L.A. Label Libertine Makes Political Statement

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Looks from Libertine's spring 2017 collection

Designer Johnson Hartig says the juxtaposition of anarchy emblems followed by imagery of the Queen was a reference to this year's election.

Everything that Libertine’s Johnson Hartig does is intentional. So, when he was asked backstage after his spring 2017 presentation if sending out a sweatshirt emblazoned with a sequined anarchy symbol following a shorts suit stitched with glittering Queen Elizabeth patches was a commentary on the current political climate, the answer, naturally, was a resounding yes. 

"It was very intentional," Hartig told Pret-a-Reporter backstage after the show. "I’m just so frustrated that these are our two candidates, and no one is talking about the environment, and our world is overheating.... It’s really a mess and no one’s talking about it and it drives me out of my f--kin’ mind." 

But that was just one of several hidden messages buried within the ostentatiously embellished and aptly titled "We Hate Everything" collection.

The clothes and staging also nodded to cultures Hartig admires (a lips-dripping-with-pearls motif was a reference to Korean funeral rites), people who have influenced him (portraits of linguist Noam Chomsky, the Sex Pistols' Malcolm McLaren and the Starn twins were all incorporated), and tongue-in-cheek, humorous sayings ("Wake and bake me up before you go go"). Even the designer’s dogs, Terence and Pocket, were immortalized on 3-D nail art.


"WE HATE EVERYTHING": Looks from Libertine's spring 2017 show. (Photos: Getty Images)

Styled by his longtime collaborator and friend Maryam Malakpour — who just presented her Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund nominated shoe brand NewbarK, which she co-founded with her sister Marjan — the loud and eclectic line is sure to please the L.A.-based brand's large and rapidly growing fan base. As the age of fashion maximalism crests, more and more shoppers are finding their way to the label, which has been doing over-the-top since 2001; Hartig notes that over the past two or three years, sales have spiked more than 400 percent. 

Among those to recognize Libertine are Tyga, Heidi Klum and Taylor Swift, who rocked a sequined green bomber on her 1989 tour this past year. But when asked if there is one celebrity figure who Hartig would really love to dress, he had an answer at the ready: the 87-year-old Chomsky. "That shouldn't be hard," he half-joked. "We'll make it happen, you'll see."

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