By Erin Moonyeen Haley
You could be forgiven if you thought that you were in the fevered brain of Eiko Ishioka (art director of The Cell) or H.R. Giger (Aliens) because the world that was crafted by Han Kjobenhavn was anywhere but the here and now. In a show that embraced gamification via Diablo - the youngest of the three prime evils in the Diablo game series who also goes by Al'Diabolos, the Lord of Terror - hints of the future were evident in the rubbery costumery that was sculptured and hardened at intentionally askew angles.
The genesis of the show was a collaboration between Blizzard 4 entertainment, the developer of Diablo 4, and the Danish designer. According to the founder and artistic director for Kjøbenhavn, Jannik Wikkelsø Davidsen, the line was inspired by the beauty that is inherent even when conflict rages. As she elaborated to NME, “For me, darkness is beauty. How do you balance those two things? That generates an [entirely] new feeling. What we’re creating has a lot of volume and language in the garments we’re working with, so in that sense I’m trying to mirror the journey within Diablo as well as my own journey.”
While Davidson admits to playing Diablo, she is also not the only creative forerunner looking to Diablo for inspiration and revitalization. Back in 2022, singer Halsey performed Lilith at the Game Awards, darkly serenading an audience in a ritualistic performance complete with black corset, fog, Gregorian-style chanting and Diablo peering as if sitting in judgement from high above.
Davidson admits to also being influenced by the "big, beautiful, evil Renaissance" style of Diablo IV's art direction. When looking at the elongated black coats and capes of oily feathers, it is easy to see how both the clothing designer and the game designer took a cue from the uglier side of the Renaissance, the side that bestowed a gripping alternative full of poison rings and devils in paintings that were in full rebellion against the cherubs and Primavera so eagerly depicted by painters.
No matter the intentions, it was clear that Kjobenhavn's show succeeded in offering a perfect scene for a dance with the devil.