Revenge of the Style Gnomes

by Eyal de Leeuw | 10.08.16

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One of the most interesting and surprising collections  shown in the recent Shenkar Academy fashion graduate show was done by Roy Derhi; who mixed the Garden Gnomes obsession with German uniforms and masculine kitsch aesthetics.

It is a clever and humorous take on contemporary menswear, with careful attention to details and materials–as Derhi himself does all screen-silk prints.

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Obsessed with the Gnome Liberation Front it was not strange at all to interview Derhi while he is located somewhere in the middle of the woods!

Hi Roy, what are you doing in the woods now? Chasing gnomes?

Yep, I’m in the woods at the moment, in charge of teenagers and young kids in a scout summer camp, chasing woods gnomes here and there…I worked for the past five years with kids and teenagers in the scouts and this is my last event with them.

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Can you tell us about the references you used to create this collection?

In the beginning of the 20th century, garden design soared when they began producing garden gnomes in the industrial Germany. Why gnomes you ask? According to the European Folklore, garden gnomes are the guardians of the land and vegetation. They believe that the gnomes wake up at night and treat the ornamental garden of their respective owners.

Although gnomes seem to have the power to handle and treat garden plants, many believe that they are an ambivalent creature: on one side, they are described as cute and magical, while on the other side, are considered to be hedonistic and disturbed looking.

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Interestingly enough, during the same time period, it seemed that the uniforms used in the German army had a striking resemblance to the uniforms worn on the aforementioned gnomes. As a result of the visual resemblance of the German soldiers and  garden gnomes, a movement arose that went against consumerism and garden design – the “Garden Gnomes Liberation Army”. This movement believes that the garden gnomes are prisoners, captured in backyards, and must be released to their freedom. Rioters in the movement would sneak into gardens at night, steal the gnomes, and set them free.

So how do you mix all these influences together into one inspiration wall?

In general, courtyards and gardens have always been seen as a showcase flowing with ornaments, statues, flamingos, and gnomes. I mixed it all and created this film that gave me a clear story for the collection:

After understanding the narrative–can you tell us more about the design process?

I chose to design a project that incorporates the hard, militant aspect of the army uniforms and incorporate a playful, knick-knack scent to connect the garden gnomes. In the designs, you can see the kitschy aspects of the flamingos, pom-poms, and glitter to resemble the gnomes as well as the militant aspect of the suspenders, shoulder pads, and hard edges to resemble the army uniform. This tension seems to be relevant in today’s consumer society, where we have simultaneous aspects of seriousness and mischief, as well as kitschy-ness and hard edge.

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And you intentionally stayed in the realm of menswear, why?

In menswear the little details are very important and sometimes they explain the concept and the story perfectly. I would like to spread the word about The Gnome Libertion Front and in addition I would like to create clothes for brave men who love to dress with humor and make people smile with their clothes.

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Modeling for this special fashion production, shot by Danna Wexler, Derhi chose Dani Amos – a famous local footballer (playing as goalkeeper) and Micah Amos his brother who is a professional model. Make up and Hair by Tom Idelson.

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