Poor Organization Hinders Berlin Fashion Week

There were some strong moments, but too few runway shows over too many days and not enough buyers to go around diluted the impact of fashion week here.

with contributions from Damien McGuinness
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Photo By Stefan Knauer

BERLIN — There were some strong moments, but too few runway shows over too many days and not enough buyers to go around diluted the impact of fashion week here.

Under the umbrella of the second official Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin, 14 German and international designers presented their fall collections on- and off-site from Jan. 27 to 31. The Berlin runway shows didn't overlap this season with the Premium trade fair, which ran Feb. 1 to 3, nor with the new women's wear show, Stark (Feb. 1 to 7), due to fashion week organizer IMG's scheduling conflicts with New York. Two- to three-hour gaps between shows left viewers stranded in the Ost Bahnhof fashion week venue, while the distances involved made a quick run to alternative young fashion platforms such as Ideal Showroom or Project Galerie next to impossible. Both, it should be noted, looked better than ever this season, but suffered from meager attendance.

As for the runway shows, they were a mixed bag. Hugo, which kicked off Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at Tempelhof Airport, and Joop Menswear by Dirk Schönberger, which followed the next night at the equally imposing Olympic Stadium, signaled a stylistic shift in the German market for fall. There's a Bauhaus spirit in the air, with the focus on spare, controlled and precisely tailored silhouettes in subdued tones and textiles for a new generation of fashion modernists.

Back on-site, Strenesse Blue also had a new spirit, thanks to the creative direction of Viktoria Strehle, daughter of Strenesse chef Gerd Strehle and step-daughter of Strenesse head designer Gabriele Strehle. She brought a youthful flair to what is now a full-fledged, rather than weekend-oriented, collection, filled with a wide variety of cute and eminently wearable little dresses, slouchy knits and a winning black velvet jumpsuit worn with a rough-cut black shearling vest for a contemporary take on evening. Strenesse Blue often moved to a late-Sixties and Seventies beat, but this was retro seen with a young eye — one delighting in discovery, not familiarity.

Two of Berlin's designer home team, Michael Michalsky and Sisi Wasabi by Zerlina von dem Bussche, exhibited significantly increased polish for next season. Michalsky also took a stand on silhouette for fall. His calls for nipped waists and a shaped, femme look with lots of attitude. Leather tights worn with shoes of the same tone made a boots-without-end impression — a nod to Berlin's extravagantly clad ladies of the night, though Michalsky's women looked like they'd clearly chosen other professions. Leather in general stood out, especially the bow-necked blouson and sexy jumper in plain black or alligator embossed gray leather.
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