No Ifs: Young Multitasking
For most young designers, managing to stage one official MBFWB runway show can be a Herculean task from financial, logistical and creative standpoints. And, to date, even the big names have taken a one-or-the-other approach when it comes to parading their multiple collections down the Berlin runways. Not so Kilian Kerner. The 30-year-old has proven to be adept at pulling in sponsors as well as talented musicians to give his men’s and women’s signature collections a professional as well as personal touch. He’s also entered assorted creative collaborations, including the ongoing German Garment T-shirt and Kilian Kerner for Komodo men’s wear collections. For fall, Kerner’s not only got a fourth design project in the works, but will be introducing it — the new streetwear collection No Ifs — on the MBFWB catwalk two days before his own label takes to the runway.
The mild-mannered Kerner is worried he’ll be labeled as a meglomaniac or worse when his name appears twice on the official show schedule. But it’s more a matter of responding to opportunity, he said. No Ifs, which was initiated and is being managed by a Cologne, Germany-based ad agency, has allowed Kerner to expand both his team and his design reach to a wider audience. Unlike his signature line, which he says is always based on an emotional impulse, he’s turned his gaze outward for No Ifs, making use of trend research and market analysis to shape the streetwear collection.
Key looks include a brushed, digital houndstooth check used for men’s casual jackets and coats; his-and-her blazers cut tightly in novelty fabrics; plaid pants; sporty training suits in a winter linen mix; black denim overalls for women, and all lengths of dresses. Everything is detailed with side pockets and/or side insets. Retail prices range from 29 euros to 299 euros, or about $42 to $430.
Through an agent and a stand at Premium in Berlin, the first season’s distribution is aimed at Germany, Switzerland and Austria, with a further rollout in preparation.
— Melissa Drier
Sam Frenzel: Odd Man In
Sam Frenzel is used to being an exception. The son of a Turkish father from West Berlin and an East Berlin mother, he’s straddled more than one east-west divide since moving to West Berlin at age four. His tastes and interests are eclectic, and he took his high school proficiency exams in literature, Latin, biology and politics before deciding to study fashion at Berlin’s University of Applied Sciences. Determined to do his third-semester internship in Paris — despite jeers from his fellow students and his lack of French — he stopped going to classes to intensively prepare his portfolio.
He landed an internship at Chloé, returning to the house several times and, as a senior, found himself at the side of Christian Lacroix as the designer was preparing his couture comeback. He then moved on to Dior, exhilarating in the archives. He returned to Berlin to complete his final project for graduation: investigating the anthropological and sociological significance of ornament and accessories.
“Clothes are not superficial. They provide a nonverbal, psychological profile of us,” he declared. “What you wear is powerful and interesting.”
Just weeks after tying up his studies, he designed a mini collection that garnered him the Peek & Cloppenburg Designer of Tomorrow award in July. It also brought calls from leading fashion magazines, and he says Lady Gaga called, inquiring about his oversize acrylic jewelry. P&C is sponsoring his Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin runway debut.
Frenzel doesn’t shy from bold shapes, but respects “existing silhouettes — the hip, the bust, the [butt]. I try to be classy, but with a futuristic feel. Life is about keeping on the move.”
His moves for fall include crocheted and braided treatments in industrial rope-size yarn for apparel, as well as gold mesh, often encasing large stones, for jewelry or shoulder details. Silhouettes range from overalls and spencers to “futuristic Grace Kelly” looks.
Arrondissement Aq1: One World
Christina Arend is taking a universal approach to her second Arrondissement Aq1 collection for fall. Or perhaps one should say holistic, for under the title “Oneness Universe,” the 25-year-old designer said she aims to stress how fashion, thought and design are interconnected. As with Arrondissement Aq1’s debut last July, apparel and accessories will share the bill in a collection that focuses on graphic shapes, fluid lines and sensual textures.
“The look is kind of clean, but depending on how you style it, it can also be very progressive,” she commented. “What I love about fashion is that it’s independent and everyone can make their own style.”
Jersey is a mainstay, but she’s also raising the quality bar for fall with silk, velvet, glossy leather and suede for her range of all-purpose dresses, tops, skirts, pants, jackets and coats, complemented by jewelry, bags, belts and scarves. Retail prices range from around 100 euros to 1,000 euros, or $145 to $1,450, with dresses running for 300 euros to 500 euros, or $430 to $720.
Now based in Munich, Arend studied at a private fashion school in Stuttgart, Germany, and then interned as a stylist, illustrator and writer at the German fashion magazine Madame while simultaneously pursuing freelance design projects. Like its name — Aq1 is shorthand for aquila, the Latin word for eagle, and Arend also means eagle in Dutch — her first Arrondissement Aq1 collection for spring got off to a soaring start, earning her the Premium Young Designers Award for accessories, as well as a dozen domestic retail doors plus clients in Austria, Holland, Malaysia and Korea, and two online stores.
Produced in Germany, Arend said her plan to is establish the brand “in my own country first, but I see it as an international label” geared to an independent and more artistically oriented woman. “Aq1 is a cosmos. It always has one line or direction that’s strict, but then you can connect it to different parts of your life. It’s more about the kind of lifestyle you live than a target group that’s a specific age.”
Hausach Couture: Inside Job
Sascha Gaugel is a young creator with an old soul. The Hamburg, Germany-based designer wants to express and define himself through fabrics, channeling the craftsmanship of classic couturiers such as Balenciaga and Schiaparelli, sometimes spending weeks to bring a single garment to perfection, and working with fine textiles like Taroni silk, cashmere, gazar and satin duchesse.
His refined eye comes from his days as a stylist and fashion consultant for magazines such as Park Avenue, Tush and Code, where he scrutinized every garment received for a shoot. “I always turned the dresses around and inside-out to see how they were made, what fabric was used. And I thought, oh my God, so much money for a dress, and it looks like this inside.…Maybe I can do it better. If not better, then different. So I try to give a bit more quality to the dresses.”
The 35-year-old Gaugel trained at the Academy of Fashion Design in Düsseldorf, then founded Tulpen Design with a partner in 2001. Branching out on his own in 2005 with Hausach Couture, he caught critics’ attention, receiving the Innovationspreis Mode Leipzig prize for his first collection, and later the New Face Award for Designer of the Year in 2007. This year, Gaugel will stage his first fashion show this month, and the premiere of a ready-to-wear collection later in the year.
Hausach Couture’s lush, structured dresses often spring from a special detail, such as the variegated stone slices adding a rough-hewn touch to smooth, architectural gowns, or the exotic stingray skin bringing a dash of unexpected texture to a tailored garment. Paired with sleek all-in-one platform boot-pants, some designs feel like Dior’s New Look gone sci-fi. Prices run from 900 euros to 1,000 euros, or $1,300 to $1,450, for day dresses; 2,900 euros to 3,000 euros, or $4,150 to $4,300, for simple gowns, while special items can go for more than 10,000 euros, or $14,500.
At his first presentation at MBFWB, Gaugel will add a few edges to his refined daywear and gowns in nude, black and neutrals, inspired by opera divas of the Fifties and Sixties.
— Susan Stone
Perret Schaad: French Connection
Johanna Perret and Tutia Schaad let nature take its course. After graduating from Berlin-Weissensee Academy of Arts in January 2009, the two established their own label, Perret Schaad, and are now presenting their first collection. Their beginners’ status partly shapes Perret Schaad’s identity, as the two openly embrace the spontaneity and intuitive working processes that come with being in the first stages of their professional careers. “Very often, one of us finds a fabric and thinks, wow it’s cool,” said Perret. “And the other one thinks, no, it’s gross. A week later it’s still lying there and suddenly the other one loves it even more,” she added, providing a glimpse of how design is managed between them.
Their Francophile backgrounds — both have interned at Givenchy in Paris and they communicate in French since Perret is half-French while Schaad was raised in the French-speaking part of Switzerland — are also influences.
“The way women in France and Switzerland dress is very proper and we can connect on this basis,” continued Perret.
The company is financed by the designers and their families, but they did get some sponsorship for the show from Frau Tonis Parfums, a Berlin perfumer, and fabric sponsorships from Amann, Reissmann and Schoeller.
They belong to a growing wave of designers introducing a new element to Berlin fashion, taking their designs in a different direction from the city’s much-hyped streetwear aesthetic. “We want to create wearable but still interesting clothes that are more than just jersey,” added Schaad.
The two experiment with natural and high-tech fabrics, contrasting felt material and textured synthetics, for example. It’s the play between risk taking, rule breaking and elegance that very much defines their approach. In their fall collection, dresses start retailing at 400 euros, or $575; blouses cost around 250 euros, or $360, and coats can go up to 1,200 euros, or $1,730. There will be asymmetrical and sculptural cuts juxtaposing feminine and flowing silhouettes while pastels stand against dusty colors. “Our goal is to constantly question the natural element in our work and surprise wearers with details they wouldn’t expect. That is our leitmotif.”
— Jennifer Wiebking
Dimitri: International Diversity
Dimitri Panagiotopoulos has negotiated a panoply of cultures his whole life. He grew up in South Tyrol, Italy, on the border between Austria and Italy; his mother tongue is German, and his father is from Greece.
Striving for wearable elegance, he’s blended his international influences into a feminine, Mediterranean style with his line, Dimitri. Looks are ladylike, with hints of hand-worked pleats, hand stitching and decorative tucks. Full petticoats are wedded to big shoulders, sometimes shiny, sometimes draped, with touches of pink and light blue like an island sunset. Panagiotopoulos says his designs blend the structured details of German design with romantic Italian touches. “I’m a little bit of both,” he confided.
Fashion week is both a premiere and a homecoming for the 33-year-old, who studied at Esmod in Berlin, then finished up at Milan’s Istituto Marangoni before working for Jil Sander, Hugo Boss and Vivienne Westwood. In 2007, he opened his own boutique in the small Italian city of Merano, but this will be his first fashion show.
In Berlin, Dimitri will feature dresses; leather leggings; jackets in fur, cashmere and angora, and A-line Fifties-style coats and capes. Retail prices range from 1,000 euros to 1,500 euros, or $1,450 to $2,150, for cocktail dresses; 2,500 euros, or $3,600, for fur jackets; 600 euros to 700 euros, or $860 to $1,000, for wool dresses, and 800 euros to 1,000 euros, or $1,150 to $1,450, for coats.
Odeeh: Knit Wits
Former René Lezard creative directors Otto Drögsler and Jörg Ehrlich opted for a quiet debut of their Odeeh collection, which nonetheless quickly entered top German fashion doors including Departmentstore Quartier 206 and Eickhoff. Now in its second season and officially on the MBFWB calendar, Odeeh will continue its low-key, product-oriented presentation at the prestigious Berlin art gallery Schulte. But product is what the design duo says Odeeh is all about.
“We’re not marketing driven, but rather product driven. This is not a show collection, but one that’s supposed to correspond to reality,” Ehrlich stated.
That reality is expressed almost entirely in knits, thanks to a chance moment when the two were in Hong Kong. Drögsler saw a woman in an extravagant coat walk by, and commented that the coat would look great in jersey — but then almost everything looks better in jersey. To which Ehrlich replied, “Then let’s make a jersey collection.”
Ehrlich said that, far from being a limitation, “once you step into this world of jersey, you realize how many possibilities there are. It’s endless.”
Odeeh uses knits of all weights and gauges for a collection comprising coats, dresses, jackets, pants, skirts and tops and a separate scarf range. Manufactured in Italy, Germany, Eastern Europe and Asia — “wherever the specialists are” — key items will retail between 350 euros and 800 euros, or $500 to $1,150, for fall.
The designers describe the Odeeh look as one of “relaxed sexiness that’s wearable.” There are typical jersey pieces on offer, but many unusual ones as well, such as a felted cashmere jersey coat and double-face jersey jackets.
Their favorite Odeeh looks for fall feature soft but defined shoulders, lots of pants, plenty of strong colors and prints that go from romantic florals to digital diamond prisms and are meant to be mixed.
— Melissa Drier