Namilia’s Girl Gangs Challenge Hyper-Sexualized Stereotypes of Women


Namilia’s Girl Gangs Challenge Hyper-Sexualized Stereotypes of Women


Fall ’16 Presentation (Photography: David Vassalli)

Rising New York-based brand Namilia, formed by designer duo Nan Li and Emilia Pfohl, has a firm grasp on contemporary culture and how fashion could, and should, reflect the digital world. Celebrity memes, clickbait culture and online social justice agendas help inform the pair’s collaborative efforts, which this season, criticized hyper-sexualized depictions of the female body through a celebratory, youthful lens.

Their fall ’16 collection consisted of six separate girl gangs—Orgasm Clinic, Come & Play, Wet & Wild, Nude & Rude, Hush Hush and Feel the Heat—which each made reference to different stereotypes women are socially boxed into. In line with their VFiles debut last September, there was a conscious involvement of nudity and eroticism that directly reflected our cultural fixation with the female form. This was executed playfully, featuring campy depictions of sportswear, with olympic swim gear and athletic dance costumes, as well as eveningwear, with long trains, transparent fabrics and kitschy embroideries.

We caught up with Namilia after their NYFW presentation at Milk Studios to talk about all things humor, celebrity and porn.

How important is humor in your work? 

Humor has always been a really important element in our work. It’s about a personal redefinition of what feminism and girl power can be today in 2016. Over the years, the term ‘Feminism’ has become connected to these really heavy connotations and for us, we believe that contemporary feminism [or] girlpower can be something much more fun and radical at the same time.

Celebrity culture has always been important to Namilia. How does this come into play for fall ’16? 

For this collection, we were looking at fashion codes of ’90s girl groups like Destiny’s Child, the Spice Girls or the Pussycat Dolls, and wanted to create or own gangs for the presentation. Each [of our] groups has their own visual codes and symbols, and translate the main themes of the collection in their own ways. Some are more sensual and soft like ‘Wet & Wild,’ and some are a lot more aggressive and dark like ‘Come & Play,’ for example.

What’s your perception of New York fashion?

We think that sometimes the American fashion scene has this preconceived notion of being commercial, but we think you can really feel the change. There are so many exciting young brands that are starting to get noticed in New York and it’s exciting to see how this can all evolve next to the big brands.

Tell me about this collection’s cheetah print. 

The cheetah print with porn star faces was one of the main textile manipulations in the collection. We collaged the ultra cliché pattern of the leopard with photorealistic images of porn stars to create an ironic and youthful reinterpretation of the animal print. It’s used on elaborate evening gowns and more approachable stretch pieces in different color ways throughout the collection.

How was this season’s process different from your September VFiles debut? 

Since it was our first real season as an independent brand, we had to do everything by ourselves for the first time: setting up a studio, relocating from London to Berlin and staging our own show. We still have the support from VFiles, which is amazing, and were lucky enough to be selected and supported by the amazing team of Milk Made Fashion Week to help us with the production of the show.