Black – but not basic
According to van Gogh, artist Frans Hals painted with 27 shades of black. German designers similarly demonstrate the depth and expressive potential of fashion’s signature hue. The dense midnight-black swashes of fabric that Hugo Boss draped around models’ shoulders dramatically wrapped the hips of their white drainpipe trousers. At LeVer Couture, a favourite of Lady Gaga, shimmering ebony tinsel was woven into evening gowns with cascading trains. Noir, guests from Copenhagen, offered a generous range of necessities that included little boxy coats, soldier caps, lace dresses, silk jumpsuits and satin tap-pants, all in the eponymous shade. And although DSTM (Don’t Shoot the Messengers), one of Berlin’s leading avant-garde labels, sprinkled jewel tones throughout its strong and sexy collection, it still produced an extraordinary collection of predominantly black menswear and womenswear. DSTM designers Jen Gilpin and Kyle Callanan used leather, silk, cashmere and feathers to interpret Indonesia’s ancient Mentawai tribe’s iconography. The iridescent sheen of oil-black feathers ascending from the collar of a breathtaking dress moulded onto model Eden Berlin’s flawless form demonstrated that masterfully-made black is never basic.
A long story
Instead of flaunting models’ legs on the Berlin catwalks, designers covered them in slim skirts, trailing trains and wafting layers of feminine fabric. As one fashion writer observed, ‘any girl in a long flowing gown will get appreciative gasps, even claps, on Berlin’s catwalks.’ Berliners were responsive to the drama of the evening dresses but such red-carpet attire has a more practical purpose in cities such as Frankfurt and Munich, where upscale events are de rigueur. Irina Schrotter’s stunning silk and chiffon gowns in rough urban greys, browns and wine hues combined a harder edged palette with classic black-tie attire. At Lala Berlin, the trend was separated from its lady-like connotations by a romantic, up-scale homage to the grunge era. Kaviar Gauche continued its tradition of slipping a few modernised bridal dresses into a chic daywear collection with white ruffled symmetrical dresses, flowing white gowns accessorised with sharp black belts and a sexy white lace strapless mini-dress which was transformed into a saucy wedding alternative by a pretty chiffon skirt floating from mid-thigh. The best marriage of rock and the red carpet occurred in a breathtaking ballgown by Michalsky. The last look of his StyleNite collection was a leather bodice atop a billowing skirt with a print by the artist Zhivago Duncan, a rainbow-coloured reinterpretation of Duncan’s neon sculpture which reads ‘Am i all that is outside of me’. The skirt’s impressive size and theatrical effect was grand enough to match its poetic message.
Few designers would admit to being influenced by a major chain brand, but Cos’s crisp, smart, accessible style has a particular cachet among insiders with more taste than funds. Cos is a wardrobe-saver for sophisticated women whose creative jobs require creative budgeting. The influence of Sweden’s chicest international export on young designers was evident and unabashed. Sharp little cotton dresses and pert navy or black skirts at Kilian Kerner looked right for Cos’s 30-something creative-professional clientele. Hien Le’s chic collection of basic items in sherbet shades could serve as a portfolio for a job application with Cos’s design team. Even agent provocateur Patrick Mohr skipped his usual shock tactics in favour of cleanly cut jumpsuits, skirts, sweaters and blazers which carried the clever, minimalist aesthetic associated with this respected brand.
According to colour theory, orange signifies enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, success, encouragement and stimulation. Blue’s overarching qualities are trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence and intelligence. The gentle versions of both colours that were combined throughout Berlin Fashion Week were light and soft yet still expressed their significations. Powder blue and pumpkin came together in Lala Berlin’s dreamy grunge collection. Hien Le brought the complementary colours together in a gentle, tangy, professional collection. Upping the ante, Escada Sport paired a beautiful ocean-blue moulded silk dress with electric orange lips. The splash of hot colour paired with the blue garment fizzed with energy.