Berlin might not have the fashion cachet of Milan or Paris, but it sports a style all its own. Here are six Berlin labels that are making their mark—in the capital and beyond.
After studying fashion design at Berlin’s Lette-Verein school, Sabrina Dehoff designed for labels including Guy Laroche, Lanvin, and Moschino and then founded her own self-named jewelry label in 2005. Her pieces are definitely not shy, incorporating everything from neon colors to chunky crystals, bold gem settings to ultra-feminine motifs, including bows. The most enduring Dehoff classic is her cord bracelet, which has decorated the wrists of many a Berliner. Made from thick, twisted or knotted cords in a rainbow of colors, these bracelets are embellished with playful charms and contrasted with delicate gold-plated clasps.
Fashion school classmates Alexandra Fischer-Roehler and Johanna Kühl founded their label together in 2005 and have earned hordes of fans with their gorgeous cocktail dresses and gowns, accessories and bridal wear. Kühl calls their label’s style “luxury with a hint of rebellion and laissez-faire” – a fitting description. For special occasions, Kaviar Gauche dresses are timelessly beautiful, but for more casual outfits, their blouses are equally lovely and flattering. For an everyday dose of luxury, their Lamella handbag is a classic design well-loved amongst fashionable locals.
This fashion mogul worked for brands including Adidas and Levis before venturing out on his own in 2006. “Real fashion for real people” is his mission, and his lines for women and men include wearable pieces for every occasion, from smart casual to evening wear. Fashion purists might scoff at his commercially minded empire, which includes sofas, wallpaper and cutlery, but his position in Berlin’s fashion market is undeniable, and his reputation huge. Every Fashion Week, his "Michalsky StyleNite" is one of the events of the season, a combination of fashion show and extravagant party. Surprise guests have included Lady Gaga and Hurts.
A true Berlin success story, the MYKITA eyewear label was not only founded in Berlin, it still makes every pair of its glasses and sunglasses – by hand – in a manufactory in Mitte, refusing to outsource the labor abroad. From their Berlin home base, MYKITA frames are sent abroad and sold in more than 60 countries around the world. Besides impeccable design, ingenuity and technology are two other trademarks of the brand: MYKITA models incorporate a patented, screw-less hinge design and their very own material called MYLON, an extra-light polyamide.
This young designer only founded his label in 2009, but Michael Sontag is already well on the fast track to success. His debut in the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin tent that year garnered the praise of none other than Suzy Menkes, influential fashion critic with the International Herald Tribune, and worldwide recognition followed soon after. Sontag sets himself apart with his masterful draping techniques, creating simple yet flattering feminine silhouettes out of flowing fabrics with equal measures of elegance and sex appeal. Expect cool monochromes and subdued, subtle tones.
Berlin is known around the world as a city with edge, so a survey of its fashion scene wouldn’t be complete without a designer whose work encapsulates that rebelliousness. Androgyny, aggressive cuts, jagged silhouettes, and lots and lots of black are trademarks of Esther Perbandt’s self-named unisex label. The born-and-raised Berliner likes to push boundaries in more ways than one: For the January 2014 Berlin Fashion Week, Perbandt eschewed the traditional catwalk format, instead debuting her latest collection at a big party in the Volksbühne theater that members of the public were welcome to attend.