In the '70s, handkerchiefs were used in the gay community as a secret, safe form of communication. Both color and placement signified what the person was seeking — whether they wanted to top or bottom, have anal sex or engage in a little BDSM. Hal Fischer, a gay artist and critic, famously documented this complex system through his Gay Semiotics series, which outlined the symbolism — leather, urbane, western — as if it were an advertisement or textbook.
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Now, Archie Alled-Martínez is looking back on this history with a NSFW handkerchief of his own, called "Le Cockachief." Available online, the erotic accessory is %100 silk, Italian-made and sees the return of a print created by the Spanish designer in 2016 while he studied at Central Saint Martins. At first glance, the pattern looks like traditional paisley, but Alled-Martínez snuck in dozens of dicks with heads, balls and sperm covering the handkerchief.
According to Alled-Martínez's website, the brand DNA "has always been to take elements or references from the past and question how would that be nowadays." They specifically call out '70s and '80s nightlife in Paris as key sources of inspiration, when people were "young and wild" in the midst of the aristocracy of that time. "That mix of something elevated but with a debauched touch really inspired what the label is all about," they write.
The designer himself was awarded the LVMH Prize for Graduates in 2018, which helped him land a job on Givenchy's menswear team. After leaving to relaunch his graduate collection, Alled-Martínez was then shortlisted for the 2020 LVMH Prize after showing his Fall 2020 collection in Paris. He's managed to become a favorite of Harry Styles, whose stylist Harry Lambert commissioned a custom glitter denim shirt and trousers for the musician to wear on stage. Perhaps Styles will wear a "Cockachief" next.
For more information, visit alledmartinez.com.
Photos courtesy of Alled-Martínez