MERKEL À LA MODE: For the three-year old Fashion Council Germany, it was a much-longed-for first: an official invitation for the Council board, select guests and fashion industry opinion leaders to a reception Friday at the Bundeskanzleramt, or Chancellor’s Office, from Dorothee Bär, the German commissioner for digitalization and state minister. “I see today’s meeting as the beginning of a dialogue to advance the concept of fashion designed/made in Germany in the digital age,” she remarked.
However, that was just the start. To everyone’s surprise — and delight — the chancellor herself, Angela Merkel, took the time to appear at the gathering and briefly talk to FCG members. Wearing a light blue dupioni silk blazer and navy trousers, and openly relieved to have the latest cabinet crisis behind her, she quipped, “What you [the fashion industry] do is 100 percent more interesting for people out there than what we’ve been doing the last days. Make sure you take a picture of all of us,” she added, “and I’ll put it up on Instagram.”
In a casual tête-à-tête on the balcony with the council board, Merkel was told that funding was needed to the tune of about 30 million euros to support critical development programs for Germany’s fashion scene. That is far lower than other European Union members put into their fashion industries, one member pointed out. Merkel promptly reacted, telling Bär to draw up a list of “how much which country spends what in [fashion industry] funding…and we’ll see.”
Merkel also came away with some positive support. Paris-based designer Lutz Huelle, who was invited by the council to close fashion week with a “best of” his last two collections at Berghain Friday night told Merkel, “As a German living outside of Germany, I can just say we are so proud of you.” To which there came a lively round of “hear, hear.”
His praise wasn’t meant as a political party endorsement, he explained to WWD. “You have to be proud of anyone who shows humanity in these times, and you can’t ignore the human aspect of her work. There are loads of people out there who like Germans because of that.”