Kai D. Fan, a seasoned designer with many years of experience working in the fashion industry for such well-known brands as Lacoste, Converse by John Varvatos and Sean John, launched his own menswear collection in 2009.
Fan’s meticulously designed store Kai D. Utility, located in the heart of Williamsburg, feels more like a Wunderkammer or Cabinet of Curiosities of Fashion and Design than an exclusive boutique. Take a close look around and between the well-crafted menswear pieces and archival images of explorers, you will discover various witty and provocative aphorisms posted on the walls that reflect Kai’s unique personality and philosophy. And don’t be surprised if the salesperson you are having a very engaging conversation with turns out to be Kai D. himself.
S2S: Kai, why did you decide to opt out of the corporate fashion world you have been part of for so many years and start your own collection?
New York Style Stories is a series of short documentary portraits by Maaike Holvast. The different episodes portray various New Yorkers with distinctly outspoken styles and document not only their vivid visual expressions, but also the personalities that motivate such display. We showed you one of those exciting short films last year, now we finally found the time to catch up with Maaike and discuss everything style and her latest project +1 Significant Others.
S2S: Before becoming a documentary filmmaker you studied Fashion, worked as a stylist, brand consultant and fashion editor. What is it about fashion that fascinates you and why did you choose documentary film-making to explore the subject more in depth?
Maaike Holvast: I was always more interested with the WHY, then the HOW of fashion and style. People spend so much time, effort and money on appearances, yet many of us never really think about what motivates us to choose our clothing, hairstyles etc. At the same time we all categorize and judge others by it. During my education this was already obvious. I was most interested in the classes that dealt with the psychology of style and the influences of societal trends on fashion. After graduating and working in the industry for a while I realized, not many people in the fashion world share my fascination.
With her unique look and “Berliner Schnauze,” fashion designer Esther Perbandt is anything but ordinary. Her androgynous silhouettes are blurred with deconstructed details, referencing classical menswear. S2S met up with the Berlin designer who was born and raised in Berlin and stays true to her individual style, no matter what the rest of the fashion world might say.
S2S: You state that you were already fascinated by fashion at an early age. When did you get to the point of actually transforming that passion into your personal career, your vision?
Esther Perbandt: I made up my mind at the age of 12. I grew up without TV. Instead there was a huge treasure chest with dress up clothes. So, already as a kid I was mesmerized by adopting different identities. Some even would say that it was boring to play Barbie with me, as I was more interested in undressing and redressing them, rather than constructing a proper plot.
This weekend, from March 21st-22nd the former department store “Kaufhaus Jandorf” will open its doors to Fashion Circus BERLIN – a fashion and design festival with runway shows, exhibitions, a large designer market, as well as delicious food provided by Bite Club. In its third installment, Live Networking Fashion & Art (LNFA) and Montagsmarkt, a platform for young designers, creatives and collectors, collaborate on Fashion Circus BERLIN. S2S spoke to Valeria Klapproth of Montagsmarkt, one of the initiators of this year’s event to get some insights on Fashion Circus.
S2S: How did the idea for Fashion Circus Berlin come to life and how does this event compare to the atmosphere at a circus?
Valeria Klapproth: Katja Weber of “Montagsmarkt” (with Vania Kukleta) and I met some time ago in Berlin. Together, we made the decision to transfer the market concept which originated in Switzerland where I am from, to Berlin. Some weeks ago LNFA approached us, asking if we were interested in organizing a designer market with them.
Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication, which is inherently found in the elegant minimalist style of WOMAN.MADE – a collection of hand-made jewelry created from raw materials. S2S talked to Stephanie Johne, the creator of WOMAN.MADE who calls the world of fashion, music, art and interior design her experimental playground.
S2S: Three years ago, in 2011, WOMAN.MADE was born. What was your initial inspiration for your project?
Stephanie Johne, WOMAN.MADE: I was just about to finish my studies in art history at the time, writing my thesis about Jean-Michel Basquiat who greatly inspired me. I knew that this was the beginning of a new era for me, and at the same time, it was like a breakup with my previous life. Since Basquiat accompanied me for such a long time, I kind of felt like I was about to lose a good old friend. I wanted to keep his spirit and all the ideas that popped up while reading about him alive. That was the moment when I decided to found WOMAN.MADE – dedicated to Basquiat’s former T-shirt brand with the name man.made. However, he was not well-known for this – actually, I remember this aspect was only briefly mentioned in his biography – but the name stuck and the idea to create my own label was born.
Made from a selection of handpicked, high quality fabrics, the young label BIRKE VAN MAARTENS creates fashion with timeless elegance, fused with folding techniques and embellished styles. The first collection which will be launched at Berlin Fashion Week in January 2014, plays on antonyms of purity. We met up with Birke van Maartens to reveal some of the secrets behind her label.
S2S: You get your inspiration from Origami, the Japanese traditional art of paper-folding. How does Japanese culture inspire you, what do you like about this unique folding technique and how does it affect your designs?
FIER management launches FIER vitrine during Berlin Fashion Week AW14/15. A curated selection of emerging avant-garde and contemporary fashion and accessories designers will present their collections at this year’s new fashion show organized by FIER management. Elise Ballegeer, a New Yorker designer based in Berlin will be part of the exciting event, introducing her latest fashion collection.
S2S: In 2009 you decided to leave the Big Apple to come to the German metropolis with the famous TV tower to realize your vision of a personal fashion label Elise Ballegeer. You impressed the fashion cognoscenti with your two collections at the fashion week last summer and were rewarded with success. What made you leave New York City and come to Berlin?