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The first Berlin Fashion Week without the "Mercedes-Benz" prefix and after two years of pandemic, passed the test with good qualifications. The designers were eager to show themselves in a big way, the public was eager to connect, to share visions... Something that augurs well for a successful next summer edition.
We liked the exhibition Der Berliner Salon, with a very well curated selection of small German and, above all, Berliner designers and brands, most of them focused on sustainability. Located on the fourth floor of a garage that had to be climbed in a circle, Der Berliner Salon unveiled in a rather minimalist way new brands committed to the environment and with a very neat aesthetic. A paradise for any fashion stylist in search of fashion that tells stories.
The best styling lesson came from VORN - The Berlin Fashion Hub. The editorial fashion show "Role Models" featured looks from 78 internationally and nationally established and commercially successful brands, styled with independent labels and newcomers from Berlin. The looks were selected and styled by the creative team around Julius and Tanya Forgo. Amazing Job! All participating labels underwent a thorough sustainability check by Studio MM04 beforehand.
Vibrant, optimistic, full of colour. One of our favourite collections was presented by RIANNA + NINA at the Regent Hotel Berlin. The first official presentation of their highly beloved One-of-a-kind collection was a firework of exclusive vintage fabrics and marvelous prints. The catwalk was a reference to the classic salon couture presentations of the mid 1900s. That's how we like fashion shows: intimate, serene, positive and full of creativity. Maximalism was celebrated with a paradise-inspired, feminine couture charm across a variety of luxurious silks, traditionally embroidered textiles, and precious antique fabrics. Each one-of-a-kind collector piece is handmade in RIANNA + NINA's Berlin atelier from repurposed high-end fabrics discovered across years of world travel.
The most original show was created by LML Studio in the church of St. Marienkirche in the centre of Berlin. This is a secular church that has always been open to ceremonies of any gender. The organist played live while gender-fluid models glided slowly towards the altar in a collection that was very sober in colour (mainly black or white) but rich in sustainability. Its designer, Lucas Meyer-Leclère, who was hired by Karl Lagerfeld to create fabrics for Chanel, follows the Bible by Elaine Sturtevant – "Remake, reuse, reassemble, recombine”- LML Studio was born in Berlin from the desire to reveal the beauty hidden in the craft of existing garments and create wearable art pieces. Each piece is free of gender and sizing and entirely altered by hand. It combines couture know-how with care for the environment. The new collection is mostly created with Oeko-Tex certified fabrics, as the designer told us minutes after the show.
There is strength in unity. Four German designers came together in an event to meet their community in a big way. And indeed, they succeeded. The incredible BOLLE Festsäle was packed all day with fashion enthusiasts interested in sustainability and new visions. Under the motto "Hand in hand, together for Berlin", Rebekka Ruetz, Danny Reinke, Marcel Ostertag and Kilian Kerner presented their collections. We loved Danny Reinke's collection, a high-luxury fashion designer who we see really moving forward in his commitment to sustainability. "Grieved Serenity" is a tribute to grizzly bears, the presentation was a statement against the sadistic keeping, training and "dressing" of dancing bears in Europe. "I worked mainly with recycled materials, such as leather, wool and silk. I also used leftovers from previous collections to compose the gloves and boots seen in the show," - Danny declared to Luxiders Magazine.
Amidst sirens of war and sounds of shrapnel, Ukrainian concept brand DZHUS showed 10 innovative pieces that designer Irina Dzhus radically transformed in front of us, showcasing the most characteristic styling choices of each. "The war has divided the life of every Ukrainian into 'before' and 'after'. As I think of my compatriots, and female compatriots in particular, who have lost everything and had to embrace new hypostases of themselves in order to survive, I want to portray these superheroes and their inevitable metamorphosis in a symbolic way" - shares Irina Dzhus. Many of DZHUS AW23's designs are conceived around pockets and bags, as an allegory for the evacuation process that millions of Ukrainians went through, taking only the belongings they could carry. "Many have preferred symbolic things to practical things, which is so poignant...". - Irina recalls. Some of the outfits offer a transformation of an exaggeratedly utilitarian unisex silhouette into a fragile feminine look and vice versa, as an allusion to the inevitable change of a personality under the influence of force majeure circumstances, which often demand heartbreaking decisions.
Very emotional was also the fashion show by Litkovska “Vesnianka” in the amazing Feuerle Collection, founded by Désiré Feuerle and Sara Puig in 2016, is an interdisciplinary art institution based in Berlin, located in a former WWII telecommunications bunker, renovated by British architect John Pawson. “Vesnianka” is a tribute to traditional Ukrainian spring-greeting songs, a visual tale about hopes for tomorrow, and fears and choices to be made: a documented metaphorical transition, the collection praises a fearless step towards the new dawn, the new spring, a new world. The brand’s founder Lilia Litkovska sees Ukraine as “a young nation going through its adolescence and fighting for its freedom” - she shares. For the SS’23 collection, several pieces are decorated with an embroidery of a heartbreaking poem called «A Prayer of a Ukrainian Patriot», which was initially written by a political dissident in his blood on the walls of his cell in the 1930-s. In terms of visual aesthetics, LITKOVSKA stays true to its refined, arts-inspired chic – an intersection between sophisticated tailoring and daily comfort filled with allusions to traditional Ukrainian costume. Weightless fringed dresses and crocheted accessories sit alongside tailored masculine suits and intricate gowns. SS’23 LITKOVSKA styles are unified in their difference: androgynous and feminine, bountied with pitch-perfect lines and charmingly chaotic silhouettes, they embody youthful energy in a humble, intimate way.
We were also pleasantly surprised by the new Beyond Fashion event, a small trade fair focused solely and exclusively on showcasing commercial fair fashion brands. Located in Atelier Gardens, a bit far away from the rest of the city's fashion events, Beyond Fashion brought together 27 exhibitors including Harolds, Feuervogl, Basic Apparel, Nix, Lanius, Lana or Knowledge Cotton Apparel, among others. It did not achieve a constant visitor traffic, but that is something that happens at any premiere edition. Lena Nocke, the initiator of the event, shared with Luxiders Magazine that they started putting it together in October "because Berlin needs a real fair fashion fair". Small wooden stands, exhibitors who are also friends, Beyond Fashion tells us about sustainable fashion as a movement, about the power of creating a community of people who want to make a real change, over and above the big profits. Most of the exhibitors assured us that they would return to Beyond Fashion next time. The democratic price for participation is one of the reasons. We will be watching to see how it develops.
Image Highlight: © Dzhus by Getty Images