Seven Designers Who Crushed Berlin Fashion Week
Though most of the fashion world has had it’s eyes turned toward Paris Fashion Week and its roster of iconic French houses, another fashion week has kicked off a few hundred miles to the north. Berlin Fashion Week, though it may not carry the same recognition as Milan or Paris, is as imaginative, unexpected, and inherently sleek as the city which hosts it. Despite a wealth of talent and options that came pouring out of the German capital this week, some of the designers this year—many making their debut—especially crushed it. Here are our picks for the week’s very best.
Though Ireland might be a strange inspiration for a German designer, the results of Kilian Kerner’s collection erase any potential doubts. A veteran of Berlin Fashion Week (this year marks his 13th season), Kerner has an uncanny ability to present the fresh and original. This year’s Irish celebration features a plethora of unique floral prints in subtly asymmetrical patterns, like the marsh green skirt and trench coat combo or the elegant golden jumpsuits in his menswear. Like all things classically Irish, Kerner’s latest collection has us feeling lucky.
Gender blurring is the name of the game in fashion right now, but there are only a handful of designers who are capable of making the trend feel truly innovative. Current Central Saint Martins student Xavi Reyes is one of them, and his Berlin Fashion Week debut was among the most anticipated of the week. Though his materials are familiar—denim and lace frills chief among them—his silhouettes are truly inspiring, combining the edginess of urban youth with traditional patterning from his home of Southern Spain. Men in flamenco-like hoop skirts have never looked so good.
Zukker, a play on the German word for “sugar,” sounds like it might be a delectable brand who would style for a teeny-bopper pop star. Yet in fact it’s quite the opposite; it’s a brand that has drawn the attention of the German fashion world for their sleek, challenging, and severe womenswear. They make self-described “egocentric design objects,” but pieces like leather teal bombers and box-framed leopard print dresses with hip cutouts have us thinking more “Debbie-Harry-meets-Mrs.-Jetson realness. These designers knew exactly what they were playing at when they named this brand. Each one of their collections is one hell of a rush.
It’s hard to imagine exactly what kind of clothes someone with a degree in sociology would make, but luckily Sample-CM has come along to answer such pressing questions. The project of designer Margot Charbonnier, this label’s explicit goal is to bridge the two seemingly disparate worlds of sociology and fashion. The result looks a lot like last year’s “Grand Bassin” collection: sporty, streetwear pieces that come packaged with adhesive straps and kits of instructions. In line with such weighty thinking, her presentations are similarly intellectual, which made for a truly spectacular Berlin Fashion Week debut.
When a designer starts their career working for Maison Margiela and Balenciaga, something good is bound to happen. Just so for Bobby Kolade, a designer who blurs the lines between sophisticated and outright wild designs with each one of his collections. Incorporating the sleek, professional aesthetics of Berlin with the celebratory colors and prints of his native Sudan, Kolade’s latest was a literal stitching of these two worlds. Asymmetric doesn’t begin to describe the neutral pantsuits literally split down the middle with a box framed, bright yellow striped dress, a garment fit for the bride of Batman villain Two-Face. We would say he’s a designer to keep your eye on, but you can do little else when sharing the room with his clothes.
For those that like their fashion with a side of wearable sculpture, historical discourse, and just a dash of glam rock aesthetics, then Isabel Vollrath is your dream come true. Her past collections have pieces directly inspired by the likes of Joan of Arc and Anna Karenina, and she won numerous awards for a line that was inspired by the 18th century Storming of the Bastille in France. Which makes for pieces that are disarmingly neutral and humble à la classic Berlin street style—unless they’re paired with a headpiece that would make Alexander McQueen squeal.
If you were going to imagine a film about a gay espionage squad on a ski retreat directed by Wes Anderson, you’d have a starting point as to the kind of clothes created by Ivanman. Designer Ivan Mandzukic first and foremost experiments with color, each collection showing an array of blindingly vivid teals, pinks, and oranges. But where things get really interesting are when he puts this palette on knit tank tops, double-breasted blazers, and neoprene ski jackets. For those that have never tried winter sports, these clothes might make you take the plunge.
Stay tuned to Milk for the many fashion weeks ahead.