German Fashion Designer Esther Perbandt lives and works in Berlin. Trained in Paris and Moscow her clothes are influenced by Esther's love for simplicity (black & white ONLY), architecture and avantgarde. Her high end Unisex Collections are sold mainly in Berlin, Paris and Hong Kong. (May I say that her clothes NEED a store in NYC? Her style is SO New York)
I meet the striking Designer in her Studio in Berlin Mitte.
FC: How did you sleep last night?
EP: Very good! I sleep like a baby. I need a lot of sleep. I usually get 7-9 hours.
FC: How important is sleep?
EP: Very. If I don´t get enough sleep I can´t survive 6 days in the studio and be creative.
FC: Can the lack of sleep lead to more creativity?
EP: For me it is more the need of food that keeps me going. Hunger can act almost like a "Reset button". When the body is longing for fuel the real needs are coming to the surface. You start acting outside your comfort zone.
FC: Have you always been creative?
EP: Yes. I decided when I was 12 that I wanted to become a fashion designer or an architect. But even earlier I was dressing my dolls, sewing clothes for them. I grew up without a Television, my parents were against it, so I kept busy being creative playing dress up. My mother was a feminist in the seventies and we were raised to be self reliant and responsible. Today, I would´t say about myself that I am a Feminist though. That term seems outdated, I feel like we need a new word for "Feminism". But the way how I see fashion or relationships is definitely inspired by the way I was raised.
FC: Can you talk about your fantastic way of dressing? Is it a costume?
EP: I would not call it a costume. Wearing a costume to me means to "dress up". I would hate to offer that to customers who are interested in my clothes, I don´t want them to come to buy something that dresses them "up" . But I can´t blame someone if they look at me with my hat, boots etc. thinking I am wearing a costume. I like to play with identities that´s all. There is an aspect of a "uniform" in my clothes. Not necessarily feminine, even though it can come across as elegant.
FC: Interesting. When I look at you wearing elegant feathers and the nice hat you look very elegant.
EP: A uniform can make you "grow a few inches", it can make you feel "safe". Female costumers have told me they feel protected in my clothes.
FC: What a great compliment!- Do "Trends" matter in your opinion?
EP: No, not at all. I am the "Queen of black and white". I have been wearing black and white myself exclusively for eight years now. I really like it. Black is like a beautifull art frame. It brings out your personality. And it is timeless. It is sustainable. I have customers who have their black design pieces for ten years, whereas in regular fashion everything changes completely every six months or so.
FC: Do you notice clothes on other people?
EP: Yes, not in a condescending way, but I love to watch people. They "communicate" through their clothes. You can see right away which part of theitr body they like and want to show. Do they feel confident or not etc.
FC: Is there a common fashion mistake?
EP: With very few things, little accents, you can change and improve a look. For me shoes are important. So many people wear horrible shoes, it destroys the whole Look. And I can´t stand if women wear these huge, shapeless "tents" for instance.
FC: Is there a particular City where people dress most interesting?
EP:I like Paris, I did my Masters there, but they are very "classic" there. Berlin is my homebase so that defines me. I spent 3 months in Moscow with an Avantgarde artist, that toughened me. These three Cities have influenced me and my work.
FC: Can you describe the process from idea to collection?
EP: I don´t draw at all, I am not good at that. It made my study years very complicated. I go from my brain directly to the piece. In the beginning I tried to sketch an idea and the drawing looked terrible, it resulted in me thinking the idea was terrible. It was a misunderstanding. My drawings were just horrible. I always start with myself: What would i like to wear? I always try the Prototypes on myself. If they feel good i know they are right. I make technical drawings for the Pattern Maker, but no Illustrations. I manufacture just outside of Berlin and in Poland.
FC: A lot of Designers are teaming up with cheap Mainstream Fashion Producers to do Capsule collections.What is the difference between an H&M fashion item and your clothes?
EP: There IS a difference. A lot of my clothes are complicated to make. A coat could have up to 80 Pattern pieces, that is a long, complicated Production process that H&M is not able to do. The Grading etc. takes a long time. When customers buy one of my garments they always buy a piece of my personality. That is a value H&M can´t provide.
FC: Can you define "Home"?
EP: I lately realized that my body is my home. I was very mean to my body years ago. I ate very badly, in hindsight i don´t know how i did that. Being good to my body feels like taking care of my home.
FC: Can you define Beauty?
EP: It´s hard to say, I am surrounded by "Beauty" every day. But even the most beautiful person can´t be beautiful if they have an ugly mind, of course. I am not attracted by common beauty. I love "character faces". In my Runway shows I have old people, freaky people, odd people. I like to collaborate with people I could "fall in Love with" on some Level.
FC: Thank you for this Conversation.
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