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7 Highlights from Berlin Fashion Week, from vintage tailoring to dramatic gowns

By Rachel Douglass


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Image: LML Studio MBFW Berlin SS23

Berlin Fashion Week (BFW) returned to the German capital once again, running from September 5 to 10 and offering a jam packed schedule of 36 runway shows, 25 exhibitions and installations, two conferences and a range of parties and side events.

Throughout the week, the city was home to the likes of the Berlin Fashion Summit, during which panels discussed the topic of sustainability alongside a related exhibition, and a cohort of studio visits as part of the organisation’s recently launched Studio2Retail concept, an initiative that aims to connect brands directly to consumers. Parties and other occasions bolstered the concept, which also included the launch of a circular pop-up shop hosted by sustainable label Zamt and fashion rental app Clothesfriends.

Fashion for the season, while emphasising German designers, highlighted a number of international players, including more than 35 Ukrainian designers who took part in various runways or exhibitions around Berlin, gaining the opportunity to showcase their collections to an international audience. Below, FashionUnited has highlighted some of the most notable runways and events from BFW.

Bobkova: vintage-inspired tailoring

Ukrainian label Bobkova joined the BFW line up this season, presenting a SS23 dedicated to spotlighting “freedom on a grand scale”, as a press release read. Its message referenced both the freedom of its own country and the freedom of identity, shown through styles that aimed to break down gender-specific conventions. The collection’s technical aspects drew inspiration from traditional Japanese unisex cuts, evident in tailored skirt and pant suits which sat next to oversized shirts and asymmetric dresses.

Image: Bobkova SS23

The label’s designer Kristina Bobkova took cues from the blossom trees in her hometown of Kyiv for this season’s colour palette, offering up looks in yellows, pale pinks and cream whites that contrasted the emerald green, earthy browns and silver accents. Bobkova also explored traditional Ukrainian crafts for the line's accessories, including for the making of jewellery beads which were fired in kilns in Ukraine’s Ternopil region. The accessories offer come as part of a collaboration with sustainable German bag brand Chris Bader, which launched during BFW and will also launch later in New York, Shanghai and Paris.

Image: Bobkova SS23

Marcell von Berlin: bringing the metaverse to retail

As part of the German Fashion Council’s Studio2Retail concept, presentations and events were held at various stores and designer studio’s around the city. One event included the opening of a new store concept for Marcell von Berlin, who welcomed the metaverse into his retail space.

At the designer’s Berlin flagship store, von Berlin implemented augmented reality (AR) windows where a QR code, once scanned, will allow a visitor to view the brand’s entire new collection on their device. Inside the store, attendees could also explore a metaverse environment and digital iterations of von Berlin’s designs via a computer, including a virtual handbag and dress which were exhibited in a desert-inspired online space.

Image: Showz x Marcell von Berlin

Speaking to FashionUnited, Ayan Yuruk, founder of the creative agency Showz responsible for the development of the retail concept, said that the use of AR allowed the brand to showcase its entire collection in a new and exciting way. “People really interact with the display and are curious, it is so easy to use,” he noted, adding that the metaverse offering was a new division of his company, designed to provide clients with unlimited retail opportunities.

The 22/23 collection itself draws inspiration from Los Angeles, where von Berlin also has a base, with references to the area’s mountainous landscapes and desert valleys. Colourful oversized suits and snake print pieces were created for the purpose of daytime wear, while miniskirts and sequin dresses, complete in darker hues, provided a nighttime option. The collection will be available to purchase online from October in the brand’s online shop and LA and Berlin flagship stores.

Image: Marcell von Berlin 22/23 Collection

Dawid Tomaszewski: eveningwear with a twist

Drawing inspiration from 70s fashion, David Tomaszewski presented his take on eveningwear in his latest collection, ‘Intimate Realm’. The Berlin designer opted to explore vastly different silhouettes for each piece, bringing together varying shapes and cuts that were paired with bold coloured materials and contrasting textures.

Image: Dawid Tomaszewski

Five of the garments were on display at Tomaszewski’s BFW event, held in a room at the Humboldt Forum which boasted a rooftop view of the city below. The pieces exhibited included a bright green gown, with a full tulle skirt, a red graphic floral set in a satin-like material and a chiffon two piece heavily embellished with sequin detailing. During the event, guests could also view the designer’s collection film, which put on display more pieces from the line.

“Each collection becomes my dream project anew," Tomaszewski explained in a release. "And in every collection, my inspiration is hidden in an almost intimate way. In this way, I not only express myself and my creativity, but also want to invite the viewer to dream, to touch and inspire him in his innermost being."

Image: Dawid Tomaszewski

LML Studio: historical tailoring becomes modernised

Designer Lucas Meyer-Leclère staged an elaborate performance during BFW for the showing of his new ‘Sensible Ensemble’ collection for LML Studio. The display, hosted at the Hotel Telegraphenamt, aimed to celebrate the beauty of diversity in togetherness, a characteristic that was evident in both the show’s casting and its expansive collection.

The event began steadily, with a single model sporting a reconstructed short suit. He was followed by a fast paced runway where models strode through the room sporting an array of tattered frilled shirts and suits, each demonstrating a modernised version of historical tailoring. This theme ran throughout the lengthy collection, which spanned from deconstructed vintage clothing decorated with paint to intricate knitted sets which were donned by four models that came out to perform a German song.

Image: LML Studio
Image: LML Studio
Image: LML Studio

Sf1og: a dystopian take on fashion

For Sf1og, a German brand fronted by Rosa Dahl, an apocalyptic experience was portrayed throughout the show and its surroundings. The event itself was located in the Feuerle Collection, a telecommunications bunker dating back to the Second World War and has since been renovated by British architect John Pawson. Dotted around the looming venue was a private collection of furniture and art created by a selection of international contemporary artists.

Image: Sf1og

During the show, models loitered down the dimly lit up runway, dragging their feet to the sound of a live cellist who added to the dystopian feel of the event. The clothing further emphasised the atmosphere, with loose hemlines and deconstructed silhouettes hung and wrapped around the models’ bodies. The collection, ‘Untitled’, focused primarily on the importance of craftsmanship, with materials and techniques implemented in a bid to promote a more sustainable future.

The runway show also featured Sf1og’s partnership with Converse and Sidestep, which both supplied the brand with a range of varying Converse styles, such as the Chuck 70 and Chuck Taylor All Star Terrain.

Image: Sf1og

Susumu Ai: traditional craftsmanship returns to spotlight

For the opening day of BFW, Japanese-German brand Susumu Ai selected Berlin’s Samurai Museum as the setting of its collection’s showcase. The brand’s show was held in an open space and on a stage within the museum, surrounded by historical objects and multimedia installations that detailed the history of the samurai and blended seamlessly with Susumu Ai’s Japanese-inspired line.

A handful of professional Taiko performers, a Japanese drum style, sported items from the new SS23 collection while performing a number of instrumental songs over the course of the evening. Pieces from the line utilised specially sourced fabrics from Japan, with silhouettes that brought together both traditional and modern craftsmanship.

In a release, Alisa Menkhaus, founder and art director of Susumu Ai, said: “Expression of traditional craftsmanship is one of the main values for the brand. For this reason, the Samurai Museum was the ideal location to express this principle where the scenery blended perfectly with the cultural aspects of the brand.”

Image: Susumu Ai
Image: Susumu Ai

William Fan: daywear to clubwear

William Fan’s ‘Eternity’ collection was shown in an old subway shaft at Potsdamer Platz in which a runway stretched throughout the winding tunnel. Models traversed through the location under disco balls and flickering lights as heavy club music pumped through the speakers. The atmosphere was mirrored in Fan’s collection, which transitioned back and forth between sparkly sequins and structured silhouettes in reimagined wardrobe staples.

Sharp tailoring was combined with asymmetric silhouettes and experimental draping, while other looks consisted of shimmering coats that reflected onto the wearer’s surroundings. The designer also explored a new range of technical elements, such as pleating and cut-open edges, present in the likes of reconstructed miniskirts. Many of the cut out designs were made to provide optional styling possibilities, encouraging experimentation.

Image: William Fan, photo by Julian Wiesmes
Image: William Fan, photo by Julian Wiesmes

FashionUnited was invited to Berlin by Fashion Council Germany.

Berlin Fashion Week