Between temples of couture and techno

The Berlin fashion world has ambitious goals. It is not a question of competing with Paris and imitating other fashion cities, but of establishing the German capital as a fashion metropolis in its own right, according to the often underlined and willingly repeated objective of the Fashion Council Germany. (FCG), which holds the patronage of Berlin Fashion Week (BFW).

To restore Berlin to its former glory as the epicenter of German fashion, but above all to put the city in the international spotlight, the Fashion Council Germany, together with the Senate Department of Economic Affairs, Energy and of industry in Berlin, focuses on promoting young talent – perhaps also to link them to the German capital, since former Berlin talents, such as GmbH and Ottolinger, have recently been attracted to Berlin Fashion Week Paris.

What does Berlin fashion represent?

“Berlin has its own narrative,” FCG President Christiane Arp stressed at a fashion week opening event, highlighting what the first day of fashion week has already proven: Berlin thrives on the plurality and contrast of styles. This applies both to the artistic performances and to the city’s architecture, which has often succeeded in stealing the show from the current main attraction, fashion. In addition to lots of fashion, the week offered a Berlin sightseeing tour which, thanks to a comprehensive program and a tourist bus, took on the character of a fashionable class trip and set the tone for a BFW diverse and sometimes contradictory already on the first day.

At the heart of Fashion Week were the winners of the “Berlin Contemporary” concept competition, launched in January by the Senate and the FCG. A total of 18 winners, including four Ukrainian brands that have already helped shape and politicize the face of fashion week since last season, each received 25,000 euros to put on a show during BFW.

Bobkova, Melisa Minca, Studio LMM, Odeeh. Credit: (from left to right): Fashion Council Germany, Frank Schröder for Platte Berlin, Fashion Council Germany

The week was opened by the Ukrainian label Bobkova of the eponymous designer Kristina Bobkova. In the heart of the city’s Museum Island, in the garden of the Kronprinzenpalais, she presented a delicate, if unspectacular, collection of soft pastel hues with floral prints and soft, flowing dresses contrasting with trendy silhouettes. masculine touch. Anyone who thought afterwards that this first show would set the optical tone of the week was wrong, because pretty everyday clothes in the historic monument on Unter den Linden boulevard, one was heading into the backyard of a prefabricated building . On a somewhat rickety catwalk, Platte Award for Sustainability winner Melisa Minca presented a provocative and highly conceptual upcycling collection that was brimming with ideas, but stumbled a bit in terms of fabrication – a trend that could be observe occasionally, because in some collections technique and tailoring have given way to concept.

After a mini-rave at Lucas Meyer-Leclère, who has dedicated himself to choreography and couture this season, Otto Drögsler and Jörg Ehrlich of Odeeh closed the first day of BFW with a colorful and sequin-rich collection at the James Simon Gallery, bringing to close a day that foreshadowed the contrasting program of the days to come.

Commercial appeal and concept statements

Shows with an obvious commercial appeal, such as the collection of the Ukrainian label Podyh, encountered performances during fashion week that stood out in particular for their basic idea and their staging, such as Acceptance Letter Studio or the designer Irina Dzhus, who also comes from Ukraine. The latter showcased its literally convertible line in the Feuerle Collection, a refurbished WWII-era bunker. Her compatriot Lilia Litkovska’s performance at Kraftwerk was relatively unspectacular – both in staging and choice of venue. The collection, however, marked by clean lines and impeccable craftsmanship, proved to be a favorite sight for visitors. And that without too many thrift stores or seats.

Litkovska SS24. Credit: Fashion Council Germany

Collections like Litkowska’s prove that Berlin can do more than the already outdated stereotypes of techno-temple Berghain, although these have of course not been forgotten, but refined this season. Thus, the designer duo behind the Richert Beil brand, Jale Richert and Michele Beil, presented a collection that questions gender roles, wrapping them in latex and leather without necessarily evoking the connotations usually associated with materials – in particular thanks to an irreproachable manufacture and confection. “Father, Bear”, the name of the collection presented in an old supermarket store, not only effortlessly combined pinstriped suits, rocking clothes, BDSM elements and grandma’s lace doily, but made the desired combination. The title of the collection may be both a reference to the “fatherly” elements of the collection, such as said pinstripe suit, but the religious nuance was not absent, even if it was much less provocative than the religiously wicked collection. by Nan Li and Emilia Pfohl, whose Namilia brand caused a stir and outcry – both with excitement and outrage.

Richert Beil SS24. Credit: Fashion Council Germany

While the low attendance at most shows would not suggest that the upcoming season’s fashion will be shown behind closed doors, the Kronprinzenpalais was thronged with the brand’s followers ahead of the Namilia show itself. Fans dressed in the brand’s clothes and interested spectators are a familiar sight in other fashion metropolises, but for Berlin this season was still a rarity. Only Namilia managed to spark such a hype – although other domestic designers deserved at least the same level of attention. The colorful audience of specialist press, local celebrities and brand fans were able to discover an incredibly clever, entertaining but also extremely provocative collection in the corridors of the Kronprinzenpalais.

Namilia SS24. Credit: Fashion Council Germany

With “In Loving Memory of My Sugar Daddy,” the laudably diverse models Namilia paid tribute to their seemingly deceased patron. The distinctive name of the collection said it all, and so the hallmarks of the “new rich”, such as Juicy Couture-inspired joggers, met “old-school” classics, such as the iconic Birkin bag from Hermès. which was unceremoniously repurposed into skirts. and tops. According to the show’s notes, up to 50 of the designs were inspired by “couturier legends like Cristobal Balenciaga and Christian Dior”, but these were lost in the sea of ​​latex, bare skin and Catholic iconography. . However, the salacious slogans and theatrical performance certainly created a buzz among the visitors, as no other show was celebrated with so much hollering, rowdiness and applause.

namilia Credit: Fashion Council Germany

Young talents lick the blood: Berlin’s promising future

While Namilia already caused a stir in January with diversity, inclusion and provocative fashion, BFW was an impressive debut for the Milk of Line label. The designer duo, who studied together at the Royal Academy in Antwerp and then made their mark at Givenchy in Paris, literally took guests to the stars at the Zeiss Major Planetarium. The earthy color palette and mix of leather and sheer, flowing fabrics of her debut show “Dozen” combined the flair of the idyllic countryside with the gritty big city. Some of his designs are somewhat reminiscent of Ludovic de Saint-Sernin’s first and only collection for Belgian fashion house Ann Demeulemeester, but it’s inconceivable that this collection is the duo’s last.

Whitewash SS24. Credit: Fashion Council Germany

One of Berlin’s hottest fashion hopefuls is Rosa Marga Dahl and her label SF1OG. While the brand name may present many international guests with an almost unsolvable puzzle, the potential for the enduring label was crystal clear as soon as the first piano sounds echoed through the Ludwig Erhard Haus. Dahl’s design language combines a certain darkness that many associate with the aesthetics of the German capital, adding lightness and a touch of nostalgia especially through the mix of materials like century-old lace and recycled leather. The “21:16-3-1” collection presented at the former Berlin Stock Exchange was dedicated to equestrian sports and the designer’s childhood memories, but the result was anything but childish – despite wooden horses as handbags . The brand’s logo, a sort of inverted G, was more present than ever in this collection, foreshadowing a commercial but no less creative direction for SF1OG – and Berlin fashion.

SF1OG SS24. Credit: Fashion Council Germany

Even before the start of BFW, designer William Fan presented his documentary “William Fan – In Between” at the Delphi Filmpalast for his debut. The film has since been available at the ARD media library and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the colorful universe of the designer, who presented a subtle Pride collection at Gropius Bau during Fashion Week. The fact that Fan’s show was one of the most elaborate of fashion week was already evident upon entering the building, where a photo wall for guests – rare in Berlin – was and flashes followed. celebrities present. Fan was sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, as all fashion week once was, but even without this lucrative partnership, the designer’s collection would probably have been one of the most moving, colorful and subtly political performances of SS24 – because Fan was almost secretly waving the rainbow flag.

Guillaume Fan SS24. Credit: Fashion Council Germany

Under the title “Ceremony”, the fashion designer presented a collection under the sign of the Pride movement, but stripped away all the visual clichés and dissected the well-known flag into its individual parts. Total looks in the colors of the rainbow, a logo shirt with the inscription “Are you a friend of Dorothy”, a reference to the character of the Wizard of Oz, prints that have become bridal bouquets for the newlyweds and a fashion that celebrated every occasion, a meticulously choreographed show to the sound of Guns’n’Roses “November Rain”.

The whole fashion week under the aegis of the Fashion Council Germany was also a celebration of young Berlin talent. Fashion designers have proven that Berlin, with all its rough edges, has quite the potential to be a fashion city, especially for anyone looking for fashion that catches the zeitgeist and doesn’t see the diversity as a trend, but as an evidence. .

It remains to be seen whether Berlin will join the fashion calendar and be perceived in the distant future not only as the fifth wheel of the wagon behind New York, London, Milan and Paris, but also as a serious fashion metropolis, but the young talents of the capital really deserves it.

FashionUnited was invited to Berlin Fashion Week by the Fashion Council Germany.

This article originally appeared on FashionUnited.DE. Translation and editing by: Rachel Douglass.

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