Designing i-Diehls

Mary Jo Diehl in action
Mary Jo Diehl in action

Although most style-concious countries have their own version of Next Top Model and the designer-and-model TV show Project Runway is in its sixth season, fashion has been taken to a brand new level — giving talented fledgling designers and artists an opportunity to shine — with their creations coming together in front of an audience in a mere five minutes.

Brainchild of wife-and-husband team Mary Jo Diehl and Roman Milisic from design studio House of Diehl, Style Wars brings fashion, music, art and design all together, live, in one city for one night.

Originating in New York City, the battle between eight designers who create haute couture from second-hand clothes and recycled material in under five minutes has wound its way to London, Johannesburg and Hong Kong and touches down in BA for its runway debut this evening.

In an exclusive interview with the Herald, Croatia-born Roman says: “Style Wars started with a few people in their bedrooms, but it grew really fast from 40 people to 3,000 within six months. So we decided to take it to five continents, but only do one show in each — the smallest of world tours.”

Buenos Aires is the South American city of choice, as the design duo were put in touch with Argentine DJ Ale Lacroix and his business partner Julia Gersberg from Zuma Production Boutique via a mutual French friend who works with House of Diehl. Former MTV VJ Ale, who hosts the design-off tonight, says: “It was love at first sight. We fell for Style Wars six months ago and we wanted to make it happen. And now it’s happening today!”

Explaining the concept further, Brooklyn-born Mary Jo says: “It’s about what’s out there right now. It can be politics or product, you can be part of the solution or part of the problem. We came to this idea solving problems and creating opportunities for designers and audiences so they can connect. There are so many cool and creative people that it doesn’t matter whether you’re from Brooklyn or Buenos Aires — great talent deserves a great opportunity and that’s what Style Wars is about.”

With the current economic environment, it’s a complex time for any business start-up, least of all in fashion, yet Style Wars ticks the box of getting fresh talent recognised. “So what if you’re not Galliano?” says Mary Jo. “But if you have that genius, shouldn’t you get that spotlighted? That’s why we did this, to create opportunities.”

The design-off, a knock-out competition between the selected eight, also ticks the environmental box. “We’ve been working with recycled clothes and green products before, so that makes Style Wars accessible to everybody. We were a bit jaded with the New York scene and wanted to create a super-cool, fun experience for an audience too,”she adds.

The eight — Titi de Incendisenios, Tranqui Yanqui, Hernan Jackie Ludueña, Soledad Limido, Nicole Segal, Magali Fischtein, Poeta Team – Street Artist and Kinda killer & Wuacha — were among hundreds who applied to House of Diehl and were selected two days ago.

Roman admits he never leaves home without a pair of scissors, so let’s hope the new designers on the block take advice from the king of cuts when it’s crunch time tonight.

Where & When: Crobar, Av. Infanta Isabel & Av. Marcelino Freyre. From midnight. For tickets, email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *