On the other side of the pond, Ottolinger are shaking up New York’s fashion landscape.
Veronica wears black leather coat, yellow cotton jumper and black leather trousers all by OTTOLINGER
Christa Bösch and Cosima Gadient of Berlin-based label Ottolinger are vehemently opposed to labels.“It’s always interesting to hear an opinion and see how people interpret our collection, what they think when they look at it, or how they feel when they wear it, but we don’t want to feed our generation of references,” says Bösch. “If we name anything, we are likely to be far too much associated with them.” Of course, that makes the designers instantly more compelling, and caught the eye of VFiles, who gave them a prized spot at their crowd-sourced AW16 NYFW show.
The duo’s brand of low-tech engineering is all about subverting couture tropes. Raw jersey, denim and lace are stitched together into exaggerated shapes then shredded further. “We like that the pieces never feel finished,” explain the designers. “It’s about mixing what came before us and what we know, because nothing is original,” they’re quick to add. One label they won’t be able to shake for now is “pyrotechnic designers”, having burned holes and raw edges into the collection for their VFiles debut which had judges Virgil Abloh and Harold Koda in awe. “It was pretty radical and could have gone really badly,” they admit. “But we wanted to change the structure of something that’s normally treated very delicately, so it’s an interesting combination.” They don’t rule out making it an Ottolinger motif.
Bösch and Gadient met at industry-favourite Basel School of Design in Switzerland, where three years being disaffected “misfits” with the same sense of humour gave birth to Ottolinger (“the name on our neighbour’s doorbell at our first studio”). They run their current studio out of Berlin purely for economical reasons but insist that today you don’t have to be based in one particular place to run a brand. “The beauty of everything existing online is you don’t have to be tied to one place.” They’ve put on a DIY presentation in London’s ICA and are planning on showing in Paris next. “There really is no plan,” confess the designers, who use each other as creative springboards. “The only thing we live by is — would we wear it ourselves?”
Photographer: Tyler Mitchell
Fashion: Toni-Blaze Ibekwe
Photographer’s assistant: Ilya Bronchtein
Fashion assistant: Jacqueline Moore
Lighting technician: Akaylah Reed
Model: Veronica Gebremariam @ D1
Words: Modesta Dziautaite