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2 months ago, by Voir Editorial Team Identity, Freedom, And Awareness Enclosed In The Fabric – 5 Designers Who Stole Berlin Fashion Week 2024

2 months ago, by Voir Editorial Team

Identity, Freedom, And Awareness Enclosed In The Fabric – 5 Designers Who Stole Berlin Fashion Week 2024

 “What does Berlin have that no other city has? – An authentic spirit to really change the status quo,” answer Namilia’s Nan Li and Emilia Pfohl in an interview for Berlin Fashion Week. And, indeed, their show is definitely among those that leave us breathless with their active changing of the status quo. Here’s an overview of the most inspiring collections, in which the fabric manifests identity, comfort, self-awareness, and sensuality. 

Namilia’s “Pfoten Weg!” – “A Symbol Of Empowerment”


Pfohl and Li’s newest collection aims at both fully embracing queer identity, as well as staying alert to the dangers diverse people face every day, with the energising name of the show translated as “Hands Off!” (lit. “Paws Off”). The outfits offer a glamorous rebellion, reworking green-beige fatigues into padded-shoulder blazers and pink-grey, diva-like fabulous gown dresses. 


The probably most diverse cast of models to be found in the whole Fashion Week (including not only transgender people, but also older, disabled, or debunking the conservative beauty standards) manifests embracing their identity wearing vegan leather chaps, corsets, and glittering belts, accompanied by sensual mesh dresses, spangled hoodies, and thigh-high boots. Right next to the multi-layered mesh skirts, all-black oversized suits, and classy Y2K sunglasses, you’ll find pepper sprays and pink-khaki helmets, introducing armour references. “[T]he Namilia character emerges as a symbol of empowerment – unbothered, unfazed, well-moisturized, and uninterested in engaging with bigots” 

https://fashionweek.berlin/en/designer-2024/namila.html. Hands (or, should we say, hats) off! 

“Le Lit” By Olivia Ballard – How About Staying In Bed All Day?


What’s at the core of Ballard’s “Le Lit” (“The Bed”) is the intimacy, freedom, and feeling comfortable with your body, all experienced when we lie cosily in our beds in the morning, wrapped in crumpled bedsheets. “Historically, the bed has been a place of intimacy and vulnerability, which we use as a starting point to create a sacred stage where diverse identities are celebrated. At the same time, we blur the boundary between the private and public space,” points out Ballard (https://fashionweek.berlin/en/designer-2024/olivia-ballard-1.html), talking of her inspiration for the collection created together with Merfys, a bedding company. 


The outcome? Duvet-like dresses, pyjama-like checked garments, pillows as accessories, and layers and layers of soft white, grey, and indigo cotton, velvet, and silk. Especially the crumpled-bedsheets-like dresses bring to mind the experience of us trying to fight the temptation to stay in bed all day instead of leaving our comfy zone – but Ballard shows that you actually don’t have to choose one or the other. It turns out to be more than possible to feel relaxed in your outfits, considering your comfort as top priority. Ballard’s models have messy hairdos with white pillow feathers, and wear pointed ballerina-like slippers, cropped jersey bomber jackets, and oversized grey tracksuits – accompanied by couture decorative metal bras. After all, who says high fashion and comfy clothing cannot go hand in hand? 

Lou De Bètoly – Sensual “Illusion And Distortion” Out Of Dog Hair Waste

Lingerie-based and romantic, yet in harmony with the body; homogenous, yet made of a bunch of recycled second-hand materials – including processed dog hair waste. With all that, the latest show by Lou de Bètoly “reinterpret[s] classic couture and reflect the label’s upcycling principle (https://fashionweek.berlin/en/designer-2024/c-lou-de-betoly.html). The designer combines sustainability with sensuality and comfort – linking the spheres of both eco- and self-awareness. 


At first sight, you surely wouldn’t say that fabrics come from different second hand sources – the collection is homogenous, including a palette of basic soft colours: whites, beige, grey, light lilac, or pistachio. The fabrics and textures are equally delicate, including mostly lace and mesh, but also woollen dresses, elegant, decorative trimmings, ruffles, and fringe, accompanied by woollen underwear, lace tights and bodysuits, mesh biker shorts, and matching head ornaments.


It is once you look closer that you spot the “illusion and distortion, with many looks challenging reality perception. Skirts made from bras and leather coats turned into bags”. De Bètoly’s new show is a masterfully made, second-hand haute couture collection, revolving around comfort, sensual lingerie, and (self-)awareness. 

“Buttercream Fantasy” By Kitschy Couture – Diasporic Identity And High Fashion Merge


In her show, Abarna Kugathasan used inspirations from her Tamil family heritage to combine it with innovative fashion forms – it is where the old and the new meet, resulting in an inspiring mixture. The show was clearly inspired by Tamil traditional festivities, both through the interior decorations and the dance performance that created a unique atmosphere of the show, and exposed the audience to a tiny fragment of the designer’s background, so crucial for understanding the message conveyed by the collection itself, as it “addressed the designer’s longing for home through the fusion of traditional craftsmanship with contemporary silhouettes” (https://fashionweek.berlin/en/designer-2024/kitschy-couture.html)


The main motif is about reworking and deconstructing bridal outfits, with flower-decorated hairdos, layers of white fringe, embroidered écru fabrics, immense ribbons, sari drapings, silk, silk, and – one more time – silk! The collection included not only traditional full-length dresses, but also transparent lace skirts, flowery corsets and blue bolero jackets, mini-skirts, platform shoes, ornamented silk trousers, and impressive veils – worn by male models. All in all – Tamil tradition has been re-invented. 

Sia Arnika – “The Power Of Transformation Through Clothing, Fabrics And Expression”


“Each collection I create embraces duality, and this narrative revolves around contrasts like disarray and ornamentation, the mundane and the provocative, and the art of layering and shaping,” says Sia Arnika (https://fashionweek.berlin/en/designer-2024/sia-arnika.html) in reference to her latest collection. The idea of dichotomy seems to be, indeed, at its core: with the minimalist makeup and haircuts, and layers of bare fabric on the one side – and a latex mini-dress with fake feathers on the other. 


It is this constant juxtaposition that Arnika bases her fashion on, at the same time not only embracing the contrasts within fashion, but also within human beings themselves: “I always say that I have this dichotomy in me; two things that I try to merge … I guess that’s where I feel I am as a designer and as a person: between being more grown up, and still with a very playful take on fashion,” admits Arnika in her interview for Vogue Runway. Her latest show perfectly encapsulates her words.


On the one hand there’re most basic garments, with tailoring and ornamentation reduced to absolute minimum (all in black, grey, khaki, and dark blue); on the other hand, Arnika offers us a unique fringed felt jacket, a full-length, riddled-with-holes white hooded dress, or a transparent black mesh dress, completed by sequined underwear. By these means, she manifests that even extreme contrasts can end up in a homogenous combination, be it in fashion, or in ourselves. 

Words By Julia Sułkowska 

Header Image Credits: Mia Washbrook


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