Bringing you the best of Berlin Fashion Week AW24 Womenswear

Bringing you the best of Berlin Fashion Week AW24 Womenswear

From Sia Arnika and SF 1 OG, to Shayne Oliver’s Anonymous Club, here’s everything that went down at the German city’s fashion fair

It might have been founded 17 years ago, but Berlin Fashion Week is a relative newborn in comparison to its Big Four siblings. It’s because of this that the city can offer fresh talent at its cutting edge, from young brands like Sia Arnika, Gerrit Jacob and SF 1 OG. Of course, there are also the more established designers that offer an exception to that rule, with the likes of Lou De Bètoly and Shayne Oliver bringing their eclectic designs to the schedule. And while we already sat down with Marie Lueder to discuss her “mental armour” brand LUEDER, below we round up all the best of Berlin Fashion Week that you might’ve missed this season.

Trunching single-file into an out-of-hours high school probably wasn’t something the Berlin showgoers had in mind this fashion week. But, ever the nostalgia raider, SF 1 OG was here to turn back the hands of time, assembling us all in the middle of a cavernous gymnasium. Described as a “a fragmented memory of teen life in the 2010s,” where attendees were invited to simultaneously “reminisce and dream of the future,” scuffed assembly chairs lined the perimeter of the gym, while ‘Hello My Name Is’ seating cards were laid on top of them.

As the sounds of 00s pop-punk rang through the auditorium, a motley crew of kids made their way onto the catwalk, dressed in dip-dyed blazers, too-long school ties and ruffled plaid skirts. Bombers were cropped and riding boots high, while a beaten leather rucksack was the first look at the brand’s new Eastpak collab.

With newspaper hats on heads and Nokia 3310s in hand, the models then took their places on desks arranged in the middle of the hall, before the final look – a headteacher with a white leather duffel coat and an intense glare – stood by his blackboard at the front of class. And though this school set-up was a fun reminder of days gone past, SF 1 OG’s decision to show at Ernst-Reuter-Schule – an UNESCO project school specialising in sustainability, human rights and special needs development – showed the brand is committed to fashion that has meaning beyond the façade.

As expected, Shayne Oliver’s Berlin debut – one that closed the first day of fashion week – was the show on most people’s lips. Part of the Intervention programme devised by Reference Studios, the Anonymous Club catwalk took place in one of Berlin’s many abandoned shopping malls: a fitting setting for Oliver’s work, which has commented on the ethics of consumerism from the off.

To the sound of echoing, industrial techno, models trotted into the trolley-strewn space with jogging bottoms hiked up to their clavicles and Donnie Darko hair helmets. Grey tracksuits embossed with the house logo came as all-in-ones or were completely shredded to bits, while flowing aprons and full-body hazmats added a feeling of abattoir realness to the mix.

At points, some of the models wore muscled prosthetics over their own legs to remind us it was bulking season, and by the end these morphed into actual body builders who were sporting the real thing. When we spoke to Oliver backstage after the show, he told us these prosthetics were about “the strength of the youth”, “the idea of no pain, no gain”, and a reference to strength “not only in a physical sense, but in an emotional way.”

For their 10th anniversary show, Jale Richert and Michele Beil presented Heritage, a nostalgic celebration of Richert Beil’s first decade. Revisiting signature pieces and styles from their debut collection in 2015, models hit the catwalk in shirts and knits that were pleasingly asymmetrical, while rubbery latex was shown alongside coats with confusing zips. There was a brown leather dress, hemmed together with thick white stitching, lots of imposing shoulder pads, while a model with a birthday cake was followed by another with white icing all over their face.

The casting was particularly on point, its diversity of age probably the widest of any show at Berlin Fashion Week. Of the “grandmother” looks that featured in the show, the designers said that they “represented a blend of personal style, comfort, and the influences of the eras… that spoke to her life journey,” before adding that “this is what an authentic fashion brand stands for.” While other brands stay perpetually fixated on reproducing youth, it’s refreshing that Richert Beil can still find meaning in the later stages of life.

“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,” said Sia Arnika, in notes mailed about before her show. Specifically, this AW24 offering was inspired by the Danish silent film actress Asta Nielsen, one of the most famous women in Germany in the 1910s. “Born into poverty in 1881 Denmark, her rise to success in the silent film era in Berlin parallels my own journey”, continued Arnika, drawing on Nielsen’s many roles to “explore the power of transformation through clothing, fabrics, and expression.”

The mercurial collection that followed saw models with blunt fringes obscuring their vision dressed in juxtaposing textures and muted palettes. There was undulating, pillowy leather next to moth-eaten cotton, glassy perspex shown beside sheer, gauzy tulle. An injection of three blood red dresses reminded us of the beating heart of Arnika’s collection, before fading away for a finale of sensual black evening dresses. Shown in a former nightclub at Postdamer Platz, the Berlin Contemporary winner showed that the Sia Arnika customer is a woman of multitudes, one who can barely be pinned down.

Hamburg-born, CSM grad Gerritt Jacob was tasked with kicking off Berlin Fashion Week, also bringing his expressive take on streetwear to Reference Studios’ Intervention format. On a different level of the same disused mall that housed Anonymous Club, Jacob sent models down a catwalk of fringed foil curtains rippling with light, each one wearing his signature, bold designs. There was a voluminous, padded coat, cropped leather jackets and mesh party tops – all covered in Jacob’s expertly applied, airbrushed prints – while piercings and studs adorned faces of models throughout.

After the show, Jacob explained to the press that his collection was inspired by the awkward stage of life when moving through adolescence to adulthood. In this way, prints of kittens and love hearts were shown alongside more grown up party-wear, while the train of the “bridal look” was covered in pretty pink stars. It was in these constant juxtapositions that the ascendent designer’s collection truly shone.

Arguably one of the most seasoned designers showing this BFW, Odely Teboul’s label Lou de Bètoly has been seen on the likes of Rosalía, Dua Lipa, and on stage at Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour. For this collection, Teboul looked to illusion and distortion as central themes, presenting familiar silhouettes but in warped fashions. Dresses and skirts crafted from bras were shown alongside leather jackets fashioned into handbags, while a ‘denim-illusion’ look was actually constructed from crocheted threads and sequins. 

As always, Teboul’s focus was on upcycled materials, using a combination of vintage leather, dead-stock nylon and, somewhat surprisingly, “wool spun locally from recycled dog hair waste.” But despite these novel materials, the collection’s attention to detail was never sacrificed, with the designer using her signature handcrafting techniques throughout. And while using these sustainably sourced materials could end up looking cheap from a less experienced hand, Teboul’s show was one of immense detail and spectacular intricacy.