Is Berlin a fashion hotspot? This question has long been answered. Nowadays, the German capital counts as a Mecca for all those working in creative and future-oriented disciplines, as pictured in the joint film project by British lifestyle mag Dazed & Confused and Mercedes-Benz
Berlin has arrived – at least in terms of fashion. While other fashion metropolises continue to be dominated by big name shows, Berlin likes to focus on up-and-coming talents, giving them the perfect platform to show off their wares and ideas. Scandinavian, Eastern European and Asian designers as well as buyers and trendsetters seem to appreciate Berlin’s inimitable flair as a cool and creative sartorial Mecca. And so the city’s initial, tentative aspirations have finally given way to the knowledge that it has carved its own niche in the international world of fashion. Here to document the current state of Berlin’s fashion scene: the second short film by the joint fashion broadcasting project by Dazed & Confused and Mercedes-Benz. The result is a portrait of innovative, unspoilt talents, recorded during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin, and it proves that a detour off the major metropolises‘ beaten track is well worth the time and effort.
“My friends and I were always considered eccentric or nerds”, says Steven Tai. Fast-forward a few years and the successful newcomer celebrates this maverick status with a self-confident debut collection that won him accolades and a well-deserved prize at this year’s Hyères fashion festival. Born in the Eastern Chinese exclave of Macao, Tai’s family moved to Vancouver (Canada) when he was ten years old, followed by a stint in London aged 22 where he studied at the renowned Central Saint Martin’s College. Against this background, Tai knows what it is like to arrive somewhere new and be the odd one out. Reading became his favoured remedy for alienation and homesickness; a penchant he now translates into the abstract motifs of his collected creations. To this end, he might stack layers upon layers of fabric into voluminous, page-like constructions or adorn his attire with a protective shield of fountain pens to ward of any sign of arrogance. In this, Tai’s designs pick up on the fantastic conceptual artworks of Japanese fashion icon Rei Kawakubo and her equally iconic label Comme des Garçons.
Just what it means to approach fashion with a truly free and experimental mindset can be gleaned from Berlin’s creative scene of future fashion fiends. Instead of eminently sellable and wearable goods, they focus on lateral interpretations, novel designs and a radical approach to well-worn materials and the taught trades. The result: a sheer explosion of colourful and pattern-rich fabrics and materials, running the entire gamut from heavy and long to short or filigree as well as unusual treatments that favour creativity and innovative fibres over going market trends.
The perfect example: the city’s 2012 graduate collections by, among others, Alba Prat who wowed the crowds with a strict and synchronous play of colours not a million miles away from Raf Simons and inspired by the works of German digital artist Carsten Nicolai. Or take Lars R. Bostroem who looked to Tracey Emin’s self-portraits when designing his red robes. Finally, there is Adriana Quaiser and her play on timeless patterns juxtaposed with new fabric developments. All these exemplify a pertinent fact: Berlin might not be in direct competition with Paris or New York, yet it can rely on: sheer diversity.
Shirts, jackets and trousers in grey, blue or black, simple and minimalist in the best possible sense. At first glance, Ubi Sunt’s designs appear to be “typically Swedish”, and so they are – after all, Stockholm’s Moa Wikman and Aidin Sanati have been immersed in their native country’s wearable fashion and well-dressed populace since early childhood. And yet, the label’s name hints at an agenda far beyond everyday wear and taste. In poetry, Ubi Sunt (Latin: Where are they? Where have they gone?) describes the popular motif of life’s ephemeral and transient nature. In their own work, Wikman and Sanati pursue a very similar principle – to honour past achievements. Despite and beyond laid-back sportswear elements, their upcoming Spring/Summer 2013 collection, too, pays homage to reminiscence. The line’s soft jumpers are the result of a 19th century knitting technique while the collection’s wide-legged pants might be forgotten heirlooms from the 1930s. Steeped in sophisticated purism, Ubi Sunt do not differentiate between beautiful shape, intellectual appeal and thoughtful function.
To see the film by Dazed & Confused and Mercedes-Benz please click on the image above.