Berlin is a contrast of culture and ideas. It has become the very fabric that keeps it moving to a different beat; a beat that far surpasses the likes of Paris or London. From concept stores to communal gardens, Berlin is the type of place that seems to have adopted the Utopian ideal and has been working hard to turn it into reality.
It seems only fitting that a place like Berlin would be at the forefront of fashion, a place that has become “THE” place to be for buyers, journalists, and industry professionals wanting to know the trends for the upcoming seasons. This fashion week we were all there to witness Spring/Summer 2012 and a wider expansion of “sustainable goods” and a look back at “Heritage” collections.
Through out the shows, the designers and trade professionals that I spoke with expressed this idea of getting back to basics. What they meant is that consumers and retailers a like need to go back to sustainable, well-made clothing. It can no longer be about trend driven fashion like H&M or Zara, fashion that is thrown away after two wash cycles or trend cycles, but about designers who have fine tuned their craft and make exceptional clothing that will last many years.
The Capsule show, which offered thought-provoking styles from around the world, showcased the best of sustainable, bespoke clothing that continues to dominate the back room chatter found in the chic cocktail bars frequented by the fashion elite. Earth tones, secondary colors, and the more somber colors that one would associated with the austerity packages sweeping through mainland Europe. At this show, it was the men’s wear that stole the spotlight with brands like Rochambeau, out of New York City. Their designs are complex but allow the wearer movement that many other designers have not been able to replicate. For their Spring/summer 2012 collection they took inspiration from the French term Flâneur, meaning an urban wanderer, where someone walks the city purely to experience it. Having seen many a Flâneur in the city of Prague, I would venture to guess that this wardrobe is timeless and effortless for the many men that stroll our city streets. Currently, Rochambeau sell in the UK, US, Saudi Arabia, and Japan, but there is hope that mainland Europe will soon have it as well.
In the women’s wear category it was a young German designer by the name of Patricia Schmidt whose playful bon bon color scheme for Spring 2012 reeled me in from the aisles. Patricia started her fascination with fashion early, this developed into a keen awareness when she began her schooling in Berlin with internships in Paris and London and finally creating her own label in 2009. Her Fall/Winter 2011 collection titled, “In the Woods”, the colors, construction, and fabric is to remind the wearer of the romance associated with the forest. Red, Black, and grey are used intentionally, reflecting a myth of “heavy” colors. To minimize this “myth” Patricia mixes silks and similarly fluid fabrics to create lightness. Leathers and other shiny fabrics are speckled with the intention to create the interpretation of a moss covering the landscape in the forest.
Premium, which had over 60,000 visitors this year alone and is a labyrinth of clothing and accessories was also a pleasure. The colors were a bit more vivid, but I suspect that it had something to do with the many designers and labels that were from Italy where they seem to thrive on bright colors. The brighter color palette that were used, did not detract from the rich and sumptuous tones, making it clear to both buyer, journalist, and industry a like that a new trend was a foot. I saw a lot of cashmere, slub cottons, fair-trade cottons, and silks. The 70’s theme continued to play into design elements found in the clothing, and I must admit that I was happy to see that a wider trouser was back. Flowing blouses made of silks and fine linens were also heavily present at this show. The garments were a mix of rigid construction and nonchalance, in some cases the two mixed seamlessly together. Alysi, a clothing brand out of Rome, was a perfect example of rigid construction with flowing, aesthetically pleasing tops and trousers.
ThomKrom, the German born designer started his own label in 2009 after traveling to fashion capitals through out the world taking in the different ideas of street style and what was hip. Based on this fascination, he began to “fuse cool basics with a high ecological approach”, says the designer, and thus the brand was born. His clothes, mostly made from cottons, are made for the man who has grown-up but still wants to look effortlessly cool. Expect to see three button henleys in colors like mushroom grey, beige, and soft browns. Hoodies get an updated cool with side zips and strategically placed pockets- functional touches are not lost on the uber cool brand.
ProjektGALERIE is one of the smallest shows at Fashion Week but definitely packs some of the biggest punches. Unlike many of the “mass” shows, ProjektGALERIE is intimate and chalk full of lesser known designers from around Germany and Central and Eastern Europe. The bottom floor was dedicated to a small restaurant and bar serving champagne and “model-friendly” food. I wish we would have had more time in between the shows to visit this little food haven, but unfortunately, a strict timeline deemed otherwise. Many of the countries had their own “country corners” which signified how committed each country was to promoting the many designers that were present at the show. Austria, Romania, and Poland, brought their elite designers who are all vying for places in the best stores with in Europe, and were lobbying hard for each journalist and buyer to come and preview the upcoming collections for Fall/Winter 2011 and Spring/Summer 2012.
Romania has always been a fashionable country and Berlin only solidified what most people have grown to expect; that namely, Romania deserves respect. Their designers, unlike many of the other countries listed, were undeniably different and were varied- using different materials, themes, interpretation, and colors to represent themselves and their brands. They, much like Poland, were a country that dealt with a different level of economic and social catastrophes that not only shaped the country but the dress of the people. Where this idea is most noticeable is in the young designers leaving school. The ideas are playful one moment- dark- foreshadowing the inevitable the next. The designers, while very different, are very wearable.
Alina Botea’s spring/summer 2012 collection is a “journey through an idyllic garden, where everything can become a source of blissful inspiration,” said the designer. Dragonflies along with bright ice cream-colored fabrics create sophisticated and yet playful clothing options.
Challenging the idea of female and male beauty is Lucian Broscatean. Using his avante-guarde style for Autumn/Winter 2011 he examined the outlandish filmmake
r Peter Tscherkassky- creating very dark and yet, thought provoking pieces with fluid movements.
Though clothing is an important part of any wardrobe the shoes make the “man”. Mihaela Glavan’s brand, created in 2008, was made to enhance the wardrobe of any women, but works more as a custom-made designer or for fashion shows. Well-known already in Romania she continues to branch out by showing in such markets as Kiev Fashion Week, Montreal Fashion Week and Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Berlin.
The experience of Berlin Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2012 left me seriously contemplating how I could ever go West and be surprised. Not only is the city itself a canvas that transforms even the most mundane of shows into something spectacular, but the shows themselves enable the youngest of designers to show their lines on a grand platform.