June 19, 2008

Wunderkind (Potsdam)

wun-der-kind (n)
1. a wonder child or child prodigy.
2. a person who succeeds, esp. in business, at a comparatively early age.

Designer Wolfgang Joop can hardly be considered a wunderkind by any definition -- at 34, he was already too old to be a prodigy when he launched his first ready-to-wear line, JOOP!, in 1978, only for it to fade into obscurity as an aftershave brand. And yet with its SS08 collection, his new label, Wunderkind, has managed to capture the mismatched, animal-patterned zeitgeist that is the late '00s, making it an instant darling of fashion editors around the world. Showing in New York since SS05, the line struggled for a few collections to find its footing, with every misstep blamed on Joop's dated references to his heyday in the previous millennium.

Von Wedel & Tiedeken (Berlin)

This young Berlin designer duo takes their collection themes very seriously, as with their "Aerial Views" collection for SS07, which featured takes on a flight suit and bomber jacket, as well as tops screenprinted with airplanes. But their costume-y bent is no real surprise, given that designers Friederike von Weidel-Parlow and Regina Tiedeken have been creating costumes for TV and film since long before their 2004 debut collection. For F/W 08-09, the designers have stepped away from their usual borderline kitsch with a futuristic, monochrome collection featuring ultra-simple cuts and an emphasis on construction.

C.Neeon (Berlin)

When they started their line in 2004, fabric designer Clara Leskovar and fashion designer Doreen Schulz were told they needed to make their designs more conventional, more feminine and sporty, if they were going to succeed. Luckily, they ignored that advice completely, creating a daring line of garishly colored, geometric-printed hoodies and loose, mostly knit separates that shows at London Fashion Week and is now selling in cities around the world, including New York, London, Copenhagen, and all across Japan. C.neeon's avalanche of honors includes the Hyères Grand Prix, participation in a slew of museum exhibitions, and collaborations with Topshop, Lumas Gallery, and a project with Nylon Japan. When they said the future would be bright, this must have been what they meant.

Bless (Berlin)

Approaching fashion as conceptual product design, German/Austrian design duo Bless create thrice-yearly collections of limited edition objects, many of them wearable, and many not -- such as a wooden sculpture of a sweater. In 1996, their debut "furwigs" were snapped up by Martin Margiela, and designers Desiree Heiss and Ines Skaag were suddenly thrown into the hot-young-designer spotlight. Through the years, they've designed sock boots, disposable T-shirts, coats for tables, and fabric-covered shoes for Adidas... and the surprises just keep on coming.

Majaco (Berlin)

Friends Meike Demski, Anna Franke and Janine Weber met as fashion design students at FHTW in Berlin, and after a year learning their trade in the fashion capitals of the world, they returned to Berlin to start their own line, Majaco, in 2004. The young, fashion-forward collections mix pieces that are knit and woven, tailored and draped, experimental and vintage-inspired, to create urban-chic looks that can adapt to the office, the gallery, or a night out on the town. Their Berlin flagship store opened in 2005.

June 18, 2008

Franzius (Berlin)

Stephanie Franzius apprenticed at Anne Klein and Viktor & Rolf before returning to her native Berlin to start her men's and women's line, Franzius. Modern yet traditional, loud and soft, classic with surprising tweaks, each collection is inspired by a strong female muse, from Françoise Hardy to Juliette Lewis and Tilda Swinton. Having caught fire in Berlin, the line is now sold as far afield as Tokyo and Moscow. 

Read more at Goethe-Institut and JC Report.

Photos via Franzius

June 11, 2008

Primark (Dublin)

With no advertising and no real website, Primark sounds like a relic, yet the Ireland-based retailer rivals Topshop as one of the major fast fashion retailers serving the UK. Selling clothes for absurdly low prices, such as a dress for 4 pounds, the fashion giant has often drawn criticism for its manufacturing practices, namely its well-documented sweatshops in India and Bangladesh. Nonetheless, its new Oxford Street flagship store remains crowded with eager consumers.

June 3, 2008

Lover (Sydney)

With the fashion world chock-full of haters, Aussie label Lover stands out for their earnestness -- with co-designers Susien Chong and Nic Briand declaring that their inspiration comes from things they love and admire, their "favorite heroes, muses, films and songs." Okay, that's not so bad, is it?... 

The couple's sunny optimism is well justified by the brand's back story: Having started out as a weekend stall at Bondi Beach market, the clothes catapulted to fame when Claire Danes bought a couple of tops and Barneys started carrying the line. With the resulting international renown, the designers are facing new challenges -- designing simultaneously for fall-winter in the northern hemisphere and spring-summer back home. For this fall, they've solved that dilemma with filmy floral dresses layered under tuxedo blazers, and a series of short jumpsuits and leather shorts that work perfectly over tights, all in a black-white-grey color palette.

Photos via Lover

Rachel Comey (New York)

Rachel Comey's offbeat womenswear distinguishes itself through quirky prints and textures, unexpected color schemes, and an updated dowdiness that would work equally well on your grandmother or a precocious 12-year-old. Comey's pedigree -- a degree in sculpture, a gig at Theory, and an auspicious start in menswear -- hardly shows these days in her vintage-inspired collections, as she's grown up to become one of New York's hottest indie designers.

Photos via Style.com

Lyell (New York)

Four years after her tiny first collection, with celebrity fans including Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman, and Zooey Deschanel, designer Emma Fletcher finally brought Lyell into the spotlight last September with the line's first runway show. The vintage-inspired womenswear line bears silhouettes from the 1930s, such as a slinky blue bias-cut gown, through the 1950s, like a floral-print tap suit. The nostalgic, elegant clothes are constructed from heirloom lace and silks with an eye to details like bound or French seams, so not only do the pieces look like heirlooms, they'll be worth saving for future generations.

Catherine Holstein (New York)

One look at her line, and it's clear why Catherine Holstein decided to relocate from her native London to the Big Apple. Her collections most resemble the tomboyish downtown look of fellow Parsons dropout Alexander Wang, NYC's golden boy-of-the-moment. The humongous glasses frames paired with her fall collection led to cries of "librarian chic," but Holstein's girl is no demure wallflower à la Rachel Comey: with an emphasis on solids and colorblocking, and plenty of plays on volume, with a bubble coat, wide trousers, and grubby oversized T-shirts as mainstays of her Fall 2008 collection, Holstein's muse is the kind of girl who rolls out of bed in the morning and pulls on her boyfriend's clothes from last night. Which would lead one to wonder who's actually going to buy these critically acclaimed pieces... but hey, if Barneys and Lane Crawford aren't worrying, why should we?
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