KANDAHAR, 10 March – Legendary haute couture model Lia Johin appeared in VB34 – Net/Work today wearing, for the first time in years, the Kai Heideman designed “Lia” suit. Although Heideman named the suit after Johin, and his shop, Powers of Creation, exhibits poster art of her wearing it in every color, she hadn’t, before today, worn the iconic bellbottom unitard in so long that no one knew if she even still owned one, so Heideman had a new one air-expressed from his Berlin workshop over to Gallery Xue’s 6.5 hectare mountain performance site in Kandahar as Johin was en-route to the event.
Kai Heideman has provided more wardrobe, and Carina Larsen more hair and makeup, than any other designers in the history of VB/CO. I’m profoundly grateful to them both for helping make our work possible. A funny thing about Kai’s body clinging, curve accentuating, prismatic apparel is that to some people his “catsuits” are fetish wear, but to me his “unitards” have always been wonderful dancewear.
Actually, hahaha, two years ago I wrote a short post about unitards & catsuits, and to this day that single post is responsible for about half the traffic to this website!
When you visit Kai’s shop, Powers of Creation, and look at the posters on the endless racks of shiny dancewear, you see his work worn by a repeating handful of models. On rare occasion one of the models even has an outfit named after them. One of the faces that you see over and over in these POP displays is Lia Johin. I first noticed her 3 years and 30 performances ago when we used Kai’s Dirac unitard in our VB04 – Prism performance.
I was visiting Kai recently and who should turn up in the shop lobby but the face, the body, the legend, Lia herself! It can be a little strange to finally meet someone you’ve been aware of for a long time, but Lia was sweet and unassuming and had a way of making you feel quickly at home and familiar with her.
For VB34 I wanted to use Kai’s Lia suit. It’s a really cute wrap unitard with enormous, to-die-for bell bottoms! Hahaha, to my surprise, apparently not all of the cast of VB34 share my affection for giant bells, but I think them quite fantastic. (a Google search for “hate bell-bottoms” turned up 3 million results, and a search for “love bell-bottoms” turned up 2.5 million. So I guess the haters have a 55% to 45% edge, but to my eye, if the Lia suit doesn’t put a smile on your face, then your Aesthetics chip needs an upgrade!)
Anyway, I asked the Lia if she’d like to wear a Lia and be in VB34 with us, and to my delight she was pleased to join us. So here’s the face on all the shop posters, a face I never really imagined I’d meet, performing in VB34 with us. In both corporeal and virtual life people change of course, can you recognize the Dirac Girl 3 years later? The first thing you’ll notice is that she either isn’t wintering in Germany, or else she’s spending a lot of time at the spa, but opulent living has certainly given Lia a darker complexion. We can’t compare hair since Carina did those crazy dye jobs and updos for everyone.
Lia has both an inner glow and a simple, almost vulnerable presence in spite of appearing to have done rather well, at least in this life. What I do know is that it was an unexpected pleasure to meet, and be fortunate enough to work with, the enigmatic face on the posters that I never expected to see come out of the posters into the real world.
Thank you Lia!