Berlin, with its history of purist, razor-sharp design, its penchant for experimentalism and its coolness, can be seen as the avant-garde guest at the dinner party of European fashion weeks. Paris may be grand, Milan may sport fur and devil-may-care dashes, London may dazzle with a kaleidoscope of print, but it’s Berlin that is the challenging conceptualist. Berlin Fashion Week SS13 was no exception, providing an array of thoughtful, intelligent designs that offered something different for the 21st- century woman.
Dorothee Schumacher might be a stalwart of the German fashion pack but, as she proves every season, she hasn’t lost her ability to surprise in the 24 years since she founded her eponymous label. For spring, she defiantly shifted fabric away from the body to act as a light, airy film around the frame. Tones of olive, burnished sand and moss green formed a natural palette for this gauzy, weightless collection of maxi versus mini dresses. For eveningwear, Schumacher looked to candy tones and crisp, sharp frills (no frou-frou touches here), with precise folds and sharp lines making the feminine overtones thoroughly controlled and restrained.
An altogether more sensual approach to womenswear dominated Patrick Mohr’s spring offering, with draped fabrics in a palette of cornflower blue and sunrise pink on gauzy dresses with plunging necklines. A laidback, bohemian cool trickled through in faded vests that came slashed and fringed. With the addition of denim, the look recalled California in the 1970s. The use of fading on dresses (nonchalantly tied at the waist for an extra laissez-faire attitude) gave them the appearance of having been left on a sun-bleached beach (or perhaps Baden-Baden promenade?) a touch too long.
This element of easy escapism also surfaced at Escada Sport, albeit in a more luxurious way. In her pristine white blouses and shirt dresses, cartwheel sun hats, scarlet evening trousers or paisley-print gown, Escada’s vision of womanhood could have stepped off her yacht anywhere from Biarritz to the Caribbean. Escada has always offered polish, but the summer Sport offering also brought a sense of ease in the light, blown-from-the-body fabrics and the punchy, utterly delectable colours of watermelon, apricot, buttercup and chartreuse.
This sense of sharp summer outfitting carried into the collection at HolyGhost, with a celebratory edge present in the high-octane, gold lamé skirts (tempered by slick white shirts), lightweight tailored jackets in putty and nude tones and neat slate shifts. The fledgling label, headed by Sedina Halilovic, Ivana Bogicevic and Jelena Radovanovic, likes to kick up its heels on occasion; party dressing played a big part in its collection. Diaphanous, billowing turquoise and stone maxis and high-impact minis were clearly designed for the woman who relishes life after dark.
The looks on the catwalk might be entirely modern, but it’s startling to note that Rena Lange is actually one of Germany’s oldest womenswear labels, dating back to 1916. Now under the creative eye of Julian Neale, the brand looked to the rocky hilltops of Greece and applied ecclesiastical whites and cobalt blue tones to stripes and piping on dresses and skirts, or as part of an abstract print. Sophistication was a key component of the brand’s spring suggestions, with the shorts suit featuring heavily in an array of muted print tones and patterns. Is this the new smart option for warm-weather dressing? It will certainly look elegant – and provides ample opportunity to show off vertiginous heels.
The summer season for Germany’s leading names may be one of soft shades and barely there fabrics, but the razor-sharp coolness that they achieve so well is no less prevalent.