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The golden era of German fashion is being recalled with a retrospective of designer Uli Richter in the city where he worked, Berlin.

Richter, who in his heyday sold to the likes of I. Magnin and Bergdorf Goodman, presented his collection to retailers and private clients 47 times, traveling through New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Washington, San Franciso and Houston. But perhaps the most memorable was a November 1965 show at The Plaza—when the lights suddenly went out. Richter simply sent the models out with candles. It turned out it was the famous New York blackout.

Born in Potsdam in 1926, Richter opened his fashion house two years before the Berlin Wall went up in 1961 and abruptly capped Berlin’s flourishing postwar fashion industry. The city’s youngest couturier made a name for himself with his understated and elegant looks, marked by a sporty, and what was widely considered “American,” touch. His prominent clientele included the then–German chancellor’s wife, Rut Brandt; the wife of the American ambassador in Germany, and publishers’ spouses Aenne Burda and Ebelin Bucerius, as well as stars such as Lilli Palmer and Hildegard Knef, whose wedding dress he created, as he did for Margaretha Ley of Escada. But while his creations were valued for exquisite workmanship, Richter was also the first German designer to embrace prêt-à-porter, introducing Uli Richter Special in 1962.

Richter closed his company in 1982 and went on to teach “experimental fashion” at the Berlin Academy of Art (now UdK) until 1996. His carefully documented archives, comprising 660 apparel pieces, 650 accessories and more than 2,000 fashion photographs and 11,000 sketches, were bought by Berlin’s Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Applied Arts) in 2005. It forms the basis for the retrospective of the now–81-year-old designer’s work, which will be on view until January.


“Uli Richter—A Berlin Fashion Story 1948-1998”

Sept. 13–Jan. 6
Kunstgewerbe Museum
Kulturforum Potsdamer Platz
Matthäikirchplatz 4-6
10785 Berlin
+49.3.0266.2902