© Dan & Corina Lecca via Vogue.de

Berlin Fashion Week – a mere nest to teach little birds how to fly?

Paris, France: The three-ring circus is rolling once again. I could talk about it broadly and to some extend, marvel at the collections and streetstyle shots, but as a matter of fact, you’ll have read about it on every other blog and fashion website already. So I won’t. I want to talk about something else. Something that has more to do with myself, more with the current developments I am witnessing around me and which has increasingly grown to concern me deeply.

Yesterday, German fashion designer duo Kaviar Gauche presented their Fall/Winter 2013 collection in Paris. The collection was lovely, no question. The typical monotone colouring, wonderful laser-cut tops and bottoms, a mix of soft mohair and tough leather and an overall elegance I’ve always admired when I studied Kaviar Gauche’s collections was more than apparent and well composed in the new collection. The designers even brought it to the next level and did a lovely job developing their own designs further. But that is not the problem I want to talk about. That is not at all the problem.

This article is not meant to accuse Kaviar Gauche of anything. They have done the obvious and completely right thing: they moved their collection presentation from Berlin to Paris. They are not to blame. They simply moved on. And it doesn’t matter that they intend to come back to Berlin for the next Spring/Summer collection. The fact is, they chose Paris over Berlin this season. And that’s what made me wonder.

“It should be seen as less of a warning sign and more as a positive signal if German labels do not only present in Berlin but also go to Paris from time to time.” says so-called fashion expert Grit Thönnissen during an interview with Berlin Zitty magazine. “Berlin can also be a stepping stone.”

If course, this is a personal opinion which differs quite clearly from my own. I think it is definitely a warning sign. I’m not saying German labels should restrict themselves from presenting in other cities, but it will definitely have a negative impact on the Berlin fashion scene if all the emerging designers at some point leave the city for bigger metropolis like New York and Paris.

The question we have to ask ourselves is: What will happen to Berlin Fashion Week if the tendency of emerging designers leaving Berlin keeps manifesting itself? What with Berlin Fashion Week not having the most glamourous or “hip” of all Fashion Weeks’ reputations anyway, people don’t seem to be working hard enough on changing it to the better. The reasons are many, the money is little. Berlin is both in dept and can’t provide a charismatic personality that stands on top of the whole enterprise “Fashion Week”.

Of course it is hard. Berlin Fashion Week, initiated only in 2007, is still a teenager compared to other fashion weeks. It is hardly as prestigious as Paris or Milan and nowhere as cool and important as New York or London. It produces talent, though. But it doesn’t seem to be able to keep it “at home”. As soon as a talented designer (and Berlin has many of those) becomes aware of the fact that he could as well present his collections in Paris or London, what is the reason of staying in Berlin? They could reach a far bigger and more important audience in other cities. And that is because Berlin doesn’t draw the same sort of audience to its own fashion week.

“It’s much easier for smaller labels to get noticed in Berlin, it’s much less busy than for example in Paris.” says Thönnissen. “Even Romaninan designers are presenting in Berlin because of this.”

The general opinion on bloggers attending the shows at Berlin Fashion Week is negative. Bloggers are seen as peasants, unprofessional rich kids disturbing the other guests by taking pictures during the fashion shows. Bloggers are only there to drink champagne and get their own pictures taken by streetstyle photographers.
What most people don’t understand is that bloggers are the ones that get the word out the quickest. Posts about fashion shows are online only minutes and hours later, designers are being talked about. What is there more important than that?
The general opinion on bloggers attending shows at London, New York or Paris Fashion Week seems to be the complete opposite. Marc Jacobs invites a handful of bloggers all the way from Europe to New York, H&M USA takes their American bloggers to Paris, covering all expenses of course. Canon provides professional working atmosphere for bloggers in London.

And anyone still wonders why Berlin is not up there with the rest? It’s a German problem I suppose. Bloggers are not as well accepted as in other countries and to top it all, horrible German C-Prominence is invited to fill the front rows at the fashion shows. People who’d rather check their Facebook than actually watch the happenings on the runway. Naturally, no Anna Wintour or Karl Lagerfeld would ever be part of that crowd.
In my opinion, it’s a disgrace. But it’s not the only problem with Berlin Fashion Week. It just adds to it.

Berlin, as it is right now, is only a mere 20 years old. Yes, it does have a lot of history, but the wounds of the past do take time to heal and the way I see it, the city hasn’t yet found itself completely. We are still searching. Searching for identity and a way to integrate all the many facettes of a city that people expect so much of. And while the arts scene is very well established already, the Berlin fashion scene remains far from it.

Coming back to Kaviar Gauche, they were only one of many examples that made me understand that Berlin may think of itself as a fashion metropolis, but it isn’t (at least not yet). The conditions are good, no question. Otherwise we wouldn’t have all the very talented young designers like Barre Noire establishing themselves, growing and becoming more popular each season. But is it only a question of time until they as well will leave Berlin to jump onto a bigger ship?

Berlin has to take this problem more seriously. Work harder. Find more sponsors. Be more daring. Be also more selective. Only with an air of distinction and quality and a clear concept, Berlin Fashion Week will regain some of that positive reputation it clearly deserves. People in Berlin want fashion, they are curious and willing to adapt. But the first and perhaps slightly dangerous steps will have to be made.

Unfortunately, this post is only available in English.


© Dan & Corina Lecca via Vogue.de