By  on August 1, 2007

BERLIN — Youth carried the day at the inaugural Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin July 12 to 15.

Against all expectations, the Karstadt New Generation Award, featuring young Berlin designers Kaviar Gauche, Talkingmeanstrouble, Lala Berlin and Macqua closed the three-day event with a creative bang.

Praising the finale, Josef Voelk, owner of The Corner, a multibrand designer shop here whose key collections include Balenciaga, Marc Jacobs, Roland Mouret, Stella McCartney and Nina Ricci, said: "We should be proud to have these people in Berlin. They could all hold their own on any international catwalk. They don't all look the same and each has his own identity. They will definitely make their way."

Voelk said he's made appointments with the four collections. While he's picked up pieces from Berlin labels such as Sai So and Rilke Feuerstein in the past, he is now considering installing a "little Berlin corner," noting, "I think these people are worthwhile."

Retail consultant Wolf Jochen Schulte-Hillen, chief executive of SH Selection Retail Consultants in Münster, was also enthusiastic. He noted the Karstadt prize was not only a good opportunity for the young designers, but, given the quality of the four participants, also a "great chance for Karstadt" to boost its fashion profile. The prize, which this season went to Kaviar Gauche, designed by Johanna Kühl and Alexandra Fischer-Roehler, involves creating a special collection for exclusive distribution at selective Karstadt doors next spring.

Of this first Berlin Fashion Week, Schulte-Hillen said: "I think it was fantastic and the presentation was spectacular. There could have been more big labels there, but it really showed how talented young Berlin designers are. There is a massive amount of creativity in Berlin, and fashion week is an enormous chance for young Berlin designers to get international visibility."

According IMG, which produced Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin, the 11-show debut event drew a total audience of around 9,000. Each show seated about 800 in the tented runway, erected just in front of the historic Brandenburg Gate. About half of those in attendance were journalists, IMG said. Retailers were estimated at 15 percent and were generally a rare commodity in Berlin over the weekend.

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