Demna’s signature aesthetic has become ubiquitous with what the world at large considers “high fashion,” from emotionless models urgently stomping down the catwalk to Herman Munster-like shoulders on oversized blazers. For designer Menyelek Rose, these clichés all inspire his “passion project,” Techno Boy, playing up Demna style codes to create fashion that immediately resonates — perhaps because you’ve seen something similar many times before.
Familiarity breeds virality and Techno Boy’s Spring 2023 presentation at NYFW has already taken off on TikTok, with user @rotten_avocadoo sharing clips from the show and a subsequent guide on “how to walk like an alt techno model,” featuring water bottles as shoulder pads and a stiff, swift strut. Over 1 million views later, the comments section is full of questions that’d make Rose laugh: “Is this a serious thing? Why are they so fast and aggressive? Are people in NYC OK? This gotta be a joke.”
It’s not not a joke, but Rose did create Techno Boy as a space to be less serious and more true to himself. This season, he played with provocative words and statements that reflect queer hook-up culture and nightlife. Hoodies say “rim job” and “hung” and “9 inches of hell,” with “bundle” decorating his pants. Stylist Julianna Yao gave models miniature bags and technicolor boots to match their rainbow-hued shaggy wigs, which bounced wildly on the outdoor Bushwick runway.
Below, PAPER caught up with Rose to answer all of TikTok’s questions.
@rotten_avocadoo Wat u know about Alt Techno fashion show🤖 #altfashion #techno #nyfw #nyphotographer ♬ original sound - rotten_avocadoo
Do you consider yourself a techno boy?
Oh me, I am 100,000% a techno boy. I breath eat and sleep techno. It’s my life soundtrack — my intro and outro.
Where’s your favorite place to party in New York?
It was Bossa Nova in the golden days, but now she’s gone.
What’s your wildest night out in recent memory?
Two days ago, literally, I was on a 24-hour bender bumping Neophyte loud as hell.
What was the process for pulling out these different phrases on the looks?
I was thinking about myself and what I’m into [laughs]. Also, just telling my own story through prints.
How do you see Spring 2023 as an extension or part two of the first Techno Boy installment?
I see it as similar, but still very different. In this new collection, it's way different because you get to see the reaction of the audience, and the impact and energy the environment brings unlike the last digital show. Also, I had a lot more help from my handy dandy stylist, Julianna Yao. She’s my guide and encouraged me to be more of myself.
You describe this as your "have fun brand." What does that mean to you?
Techno Boy is an opportunity to be less serious to be more myself, though the namesake brand is literally my real name. Techno Boy, I feel, is more me. It makes me feel like I’m just starting again, and gives me an opportunity to be vulnerable and anonymous because many people don’t know who’s behind it.
In what ways do you view this project as a "parody"? That’s an interesting word choice.
It’s a parody brand because I am, in many ways, making fun of Vetements, club culture and myself [laughs]. Because it's fun and feels so refreshing to literally make a shoulder pad hoodie with a phrase that says, "9 inches of hell," or pants that say "bundle."
Photos courtesy of Techno Boy