When Fritz Haßler was interning at JW Anderson in London last year, he first thought about his graduate collection. By then, his diploma, as it is called in Austrian fashion terminology seemed so far away. “I was gravitating towards an idea that was driven by a personal narrative. Not necessarily autobiographical, but a personal angle,” he says. “My past collections felt like they were centred around one topic. When I talked to a friend in London about what I wanted to do, he said that I have to talk about emotion. I need to express an emotion- and with my MA project, I really wanted to make something personal to me.” From then on, Fritz took himself down a journey on memory lane.
“I kept asking myself: How did I become the man that I am today? Why do I present myself in a certain way? And why do I dress this way?”
Born and raised in Berlin, he went to Vienna a few years ago to pursue a degree in fashion at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. “When I was growing up, I kept imagining these alter egos of myself that went down different pathways in life. They did all sorts of things, they were a chef or a hippie- they did whatever I didn’t do. I wanted to focus my collection on all these different versions of myself, that never made it out of the confinements of my imagination. Then, I wanted to connect that with who I actually became,” he says. Adulting is a strange thing, and certainly, a process overloaded with questions. “I kept asking myself: How did I become the man that I am today? Why do I present myself in a certain way? And why do I dress this way?” The characters didn’t leave his mind. Living rent-free in his imagination, he kept imagining them on a road trip to the US, a country he was fascinated with as a child.
“I have no clothes left, really. I took them all apart to create a silhouette that was very adjacent to the clothes I wear on a daily basis.”
“As a teenager, I delved into Google Maps a lot. I spent hours every day virtually walking around Google Maps with street view and exploring the streets of New York or whatever. I imagined a different life, just with Google Maps,” he says. This turned into an imaginary road trip on Google Maps. As the place changes, the idea of a character changes for the designer too. As his idea went on, he questioned his relationship with clothing and expression a lot: “I never cared that much about dressing myself. I never really cared much about expressing myself through the clothing I wear. So, for this collection, I looked at all the pieces I own and analysed and documented them. I took the patterns apart. I took the shapes and cuts and transformed them into the clothes that I’d imagine these characters to wear,” he says. All his clothes went into the visualisation of these characters, he says. “I have no clothes left, really. I took them all apart to create a silhouette that was very adjacent to the clothes I wear on a daily basis.”
His references go deep. His professor, Grace Wales Bonner puts a special emphasis on that, he says. One look is inspired by his grandparents, and another one dives into the early 2000s skate youth subcultures. “I never felt like I could be a part of that because I was too queer. Secretly, I was envious of them.” The garment inspired by his grandparents is made of a deconstructed blanket, elevated with stitched cat prints. Fritz’s clothes tell stories, in the most literal way they could.