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July 30, 2008 3:06 PM

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Sizing Up Berlin's Fashion Week

It's been about a week since Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin closed a lively third edition in the German capital. Water under the bridge, perhaps - especially as Berlin then came under the spell of Obama-fever. I was at both rounds...

It's been about a week since Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin closed a lively third edition in the German capital. Water under the bridge, perhaps - especially as Berlin then came under the spell of Obama-fever. I was at both rounds of events - and as different as the runway shows at Bebelplatz and Obama's speech a bit farther down the road at the Victory Column were, they were linked by at least one thing: hope.
A repeat of last January's sorry performance could have spelled the end for Berlin as a viable show center. But IMG, MBFWB's organizers, admirably cleaned up their act and the new venue was a surefire hit. More importantly, the shows both on and off site from German and international designers were worth seeing. Sure, there were a few duds and some scheduling faux pas, but by and large, there was fashion -- in myriad forms and for a wide variety of end consumers -- that one could take seriously.

For once, many of the right people were there to do so. Germany's key editors attended in force, a few members of the international press (besides yours truly) could be spotted, as well as a growing number of retailers. And absolutely everybody who is anybody in the German fashion scene came to town for the debut of the Elle Fashion Star awards, a night simply abuzz with enthusiasm about Berlin. Even Kaiser Karl is said to be considering showing a Lagerfeld collection in Berlin in 2009.

It's a great base to build on. However, there's still one area in dire need of first aid: the young designer segment. Each season, one or two take the financial plunge and join the runway roster, and the Premium trade show always gives a few a helping hand. But there's still no adequate platform for emerging talents with limited means. And that's what Berlin (during the rest of the year) is really about.
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