Welcome to “The Slap,” a photo and film project created in tandem by FAKBYFAK and Tali Rutman Studio. For this project, extraordinaire fashion eyewear label FAKBYFAK collaborates with Belgian fashion designer Walter Van Beirendonck to create a unique collection of sunglasses inspired by Van Beirendonck’s considerable body of work. The result? A line of colourful, eye-catching sunglasses ready for the next rave, party… or just a day out.
Being bold is nothing new for FAKBYFAK. Headquartered in Moscow, FAKBYFAK has made a concerted effort to shake up the world of conceptual sunglasses both in and outside Russia. Basing their designs on classic forms, they are continual line-crossers — putting design first and working with up-and-coming artists to create collections both rule-breaking and utterly wearable. It’s for this reason that they’ve garnered sizable intrigue, beginning with the 2015 SILMO World Optical Fair in Paris, where they first received attention from the international fashion press and continuing steadily since.
In line with this tradition comes “The Slap.” — an effort supporting local talent, pushing the work of emerging fashion artists, musicians and visual designers out of Russia. It’s a media-spanning work: a series of photos, two films and several illustrations. “We created situations where there is no room for melancholy, and just subtle humour and reincarnations,” writes Tali Rutman, the project’s stylist and primary collaborator. Humourous is a fitting description; the pictures and videos have a bouncy, almost childlike energy, exploring colour and form with curiosity and ease.
“The Slap,” along with previous work with Van Beirendonck, marks the second collaborative effort by FAKBYFAK and an international fashion designer. The first was a series of aviator sunglasses designed in conjunction with Indian designer Manish Arora. These sunglasses featured prismatic teardrop lenses hinged on the corners so that they could be turned and adjusted to the wearer’s preference.
For “The Slap” however, inspiration came from various Walter Van Beirendonck collections, including Why is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?, Owls Whisper, Worlds of Sun and Moon, and Wild is the Wind. Of the project, Alex Melnikov, the CF/CEO of FAKBYFAK, writes, “we strive to add some extra momentum to the concept of collaboration itself and to turn this experience into something greater, organically passing it on to others, offering young talents to realise their potential and ideas in the fields of fashion, music, film and photography.”
Highlighted within this are the glasses themselves, big-lensed, thick-framed pieces with cut-out, toy-like edges. Moulded in a variety of colours, the textured frames are a natural complement to Van Beirendonck’s polychromatic collections.
These glasses are much simpler in form than FAKBYFAK and Van Beirendonck’s first collaboration, released in 2017. That line, entitled “Toy Glasses,” featured a spectrum of skin-toned frames lined with peg holes within with tailored charms and features could be placed. The result was a line of glasses energised by the punk style of the ’70s and the customizability of makeup; with this release came a video, an experimental film entitled The Abyss. “Toy Glasses” were featured as a part of Van Beirendonck’s 2017 show Why is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?, one of the inspirations for “The Slap.”
As the collaborative process for “The Slap” began, the artists, designers and videographers quickly realised they couldn’t limit themselves to merely one idea or collection. “Working on this large project with a limited number of pieces of clothing from Walter Van Beirendonck‘s collections, I wanted to show a diverse set of plots and stories,” says Rutman. “Our team travelled between them without any illusions that we would ever reach our final destination.”
Slowly, extraneous ideas were eliminated and discrete concepts and narratives began to emerge. In the end, a total of three stories are told, spread across differing styles in three distinct films that you’d be able to see across Schön!’s socials. The first, “Soul System,” included below in this post, is a festival of glitch and light. Layers blend, fade and fizzle, radiating with a pulse echoed in the noisy and drum-heavy soundtrack.
The second film calms everything down. Entitled “Why Is A Rave Like A Blinding Burlesque,” the film does little to answer that question. Instead, it bathes the vibrant movers and dancers in a VCR-like haze. With a laid-back, airy soundtrack swimming in vocal chops, the film’s main players explore a concrete jungle ripe with graffiti and new spaces to traverse.
“Worlds for a Funny Nun,” the collection’s last instalment, rumbles with caffeinated might. Models gyrate under strobes and projected textures while a growly bassline rocks the camera. It’s a wild experience. One that’s sure to leave viewers both shaken and wanting more.
Through all of the stories is a theme of altered and unclear realities. “Certainly, this is an experiment about the vision of the 21st century, where the lines between the truth and lies blur and it becomes unclear what represents a fact and what is fiction or virtual life,” writes Rutman. While this line may be uncomfortable to toe, “The Slap” seems to find joy in it. “This project is our bold slap to dogmatism, philistinism, boredom and rationalism.”
photography. Anna Danilova
fashion. Tali Rutman
models. Kate Yastrebova, Adam Mamatsev, Marina Baranova, Alexander Naumov, Arseny Tresvyatsky, Dmitriy Belikov, Sergey Rusinov
hair. Alyona Katkova
make up. Olga Glazunova
production. Alex Melnikov @ FAKBYFAK, Tali Rutman @ Tali Rutman Studio
special thanks. Walter Van Beirendonck, Koen Vermesen, Lisa-Mia Kather, Laura, Bella-Tabernero, Marina Patalano, Roman Ilyukhov, Idk Model Management, Nikolas Ladonkin, Marat Kudusov + AGENTmgmt, Obscur Studio, Heather Reilly