Mongrels in Common: Gone Fishin’

There’s something fishy going on at Mongrels in Common.

The Berlin-based design duo of Christine Pluess and Livia Ximénez-Carrillo first met while students at Esmod and established their label in May 2006. Like their biographies (Pluess is Peruvian-Swiss and Ximénez-Carrillo is German-Spanish), their design concept has always featured a mix of cultures, and combined masculine and feminine elements.

“We like to mix what normally doesn’t fit together,” noted Ximénez-Carrillo. For example, soft draping works with sharp geometrics, or a motif by a Berlin street artist is printed on silk.

Manufactured in Bulgaria, dresses retail for between 400 euros, or $560, and 600 euros, or $840; pants are 350 euros, or $490; blouses run for 280 euros, or $390, and coats are 700 euros, or $975.

Next spring, the pair will develop its offbeat, grown-up aesthetic in an unusual material: salmon leather. This alternative to crocodile and snakeskin will be used as decorative insets on silk blouses and dresses, but also in full for lean, legginglike pants, little cropped jackets, handbags and even a bra.

— Melissa Drier

Michael Sontag: Sunday’s Child

Michael Sontag is one of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin’s freshest contenders, though his upcoming Berlin show is not his absolute first. The 29-year-old, who is completing his fashion master’s degree at the Berlin-Weissensee Academy of Arts, was one of the winners of last year’s Becks Fashion Experience award, and has also sent his women’s wear down other award-show runways. But the Bebelplatz presentation for spring marks his commercial debut — or at least the promise of one, as pricing and production specifics have yet to be fixed.

From a stylistic standpoint, however, Sontag’s orientation is clear. His work has always revolved around the play between structure and flow, and next season will see fluid dresses that look like they were simply thrown on the body, juxtaposed with more graphic, boxy forms.

— M.D.

StarStyling: Urban Fairy Tale

If Little Red Riding Hood decided to do some hard-core clubbing, she would probably find something suitable to wear at Starstyling. Irreverent, playful and with more than a splash of irony, its collections are “like a treasure chest of goodies that you just grab things out of,” explained designer Katja Schlegel.

Schlegel originally trained as a costume and stage designer before launching Starstyling three years ago with partner Kai Seifried. Besides the mini Berlin flagship, Starstyling has made its way into European doors such as Topshop in London and Colette in Paris, plus a slew of boutiques in Japan and elsewhere in Asia.

Next season features a flexible DIY modular approach using neon-colored Velcro strips. Pockets and pouches can be attached, little beaded pillows can be stuck on as brooches and a pleated taffeta skirt can be joined to a top to form a dress. “It’s not that I exactly like Velcro,” said Schlegel, a playful gleam in her eye. “I actually find it pretty disgusting. But it’s exciting pushing things in a new direction.”

— Damien McGuinness.

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