magda berliner.

applique top. leopard and lace.

ruffle dress. dark green and tulips.

knotty dress. black and white and lace.

band shortall. navy floral.

pushup pina dress. black and white and lazer cut leather.

these pieces plus a couple more...
new to Una, Magda Berliner.
here's a little interview...

Magda Berliner
Preen Spring 2008
By Rose Apodaca

Magda Berliner is a quiet revolutionary. The very suggestion would probably
cause her to laugh. She no more sees the collections she’s designed
under her name for the last 7 years as avant-garde, as making any other
statement beyond their elementary purpose as clothes.

But Berliner, slight of build and sprite-like in pointed facial features
and chameleon coifs, has always thumbed convention. She’s never been
one for crass overtures, whether they’re the misguided proclamations
of too many fashion industry bees who don’t know their haute couture
from their Juicy Couture, or whether it’s plying the red carpet (although
she has her share of bold-faced admirers).

When she came on the radar, Berliner was among a bold set that ushered in
the millennium with radical new ideas of Los Angeles style, a class that
once counted Rick Owens, Michelle Mason, Alicia Lawhon and Imitation of
Christ. Berliner revamps constructed shapes, and somehow manages to make
them new classics. A jacket from five years ago looks as relevant, even
edgy now as then. There’s no sense that this is a designer caught
up in trend reports or concerned with merchandising a line. Berliner is
a thinking woman’s designer. Just don’t call her designs cerebral.

Nor is it déjà vu, a second-hand store knock off, relabeled
for another generation. While Berliner does include a handful of one-offs
each season hand-pieced from vintage thread crochet, the textiles have been
deconstructed from their original incarnation, reinvented into something
totally modern. Part of the effect is in her unexpected use of fabrics:
for the wedding dress she custom made for me last fall, Berliner pieced
tiers of crochet lace of varying shades of white and topped it with a curved
patchwork of the softest leather.

As L.A. got its own fashion week, Berliner continued to set her own stage,
even presenting her collections in pictures, with her husband, photographer
Alex Berliner. The sometimes startling, sometimes cheeky portraits reveal
an author as keen on art as commerce. Sometimes appearing in a wig, usually
in different rooms at their modernist Laurel Canyon home, the designer doubles
as stylist in these images, which have something of the Cindy Sherman to
them (they appear at magdaberliner.com).

Styling is another role for the highly creative, and highly organized Berliner.
She has worked behind the scenes on shows for her fellow designers in L.A.
and New York, and collaborates on ad campaigns and editorial stories (credits
as varied as Wallpaper and Teen Vogue).

All this and the very plugged-in parenting of an equally independent, thoughtful
teen named Lillian. Preen slips into the schedule of the prolific Berliner:
For the uninitiated out there, how would you describe your aesthetic as a designer?
I suppose it is youthful, wearable. Yet each design incorporates an unexpected
element. My designs are not avant-garde or intellectual!

How did your upbringing influence that aesthetic?
I grew up in Los Angeles, the void of extreme weather conditions and the
desert has influenced my aesthetic. The abundance of nature has also been an influence.

You incorporate vintage elements into parts of your collection by deconstructing
crochet frocks and tops. But you’d never be confused as a retro designer.
Why use these elements in your very forward design?
There is only one very small sect of each season's collection that infuses
vintage elements. I introduced the Lace Ribbon series in 2003. Each garment
is hand assembled using vintage and new ribbon and each of these garments
is one of a kind. I must emphasize this series is a very small part of each
collection. The majority of the label consists of pieces that can be repeated
and produced in large quantities.

You design. You style. These days, what many designers really do is about
styling. But for you, it's clearly two different outlets. What do you see
as the difference between what you do as a designer and a stylist?
For me, designing involves applying a series of solutions. Each design represents
a different solution. When styling, the goals are to satisfy different end
results: such as include advertisers, choose appropriate garments and accessories
that personify the setting of the shoot or page in publication, adhere to
seasons and trends, etc.

You take on both roles and also model in the imagery promoting your signature collection. Why?
I work for cheap. The collection is designed for a smaller person whose
image and dimensions correspond with myself.

The photographs illustrating your collection have long been a collaboration
between you and your husband, Alex Berliner. What is the dynamic like working
with someone so close to you?
Whilst shooting the look book/line sheet each season we usually decide on
the location and lighting, always in the morning. It's just the two of us,
though I have attempted to have our daughter Lillian take over some of the
modeling duties in the last couple of seasons—but she's not much of
a morning person. We pretty much treat it like a photographer/stylist project.
Working for so long on this project has made editing much easier and natural,
not to mention a nice way to spend time together on a collaborative effort.

While you're undoubtedly a serious designer, you also are just as known
for having seriously mad personal style. What are clothes (and shoes and
accessories) about for you?
The traveling that I have done in the last few years has really set the
tone on my “style.” I enjoy having a limit on changes, and coming
up with something new and great that has to fit in a weekender bag, despite
that I may be gone for two weeks. Paris and New York have strongly influenced
how I dress. It's quite liberating to look like a woman dressed with care
and accessorized; this I learned from Parisians. New York is about practicality,
though by no means boring. My uniform of shorts and knee socks has finally
been adopted by those who can also see the perfect sense in being comfortable
climbing subway stairs and still feel cute and sexy but not cheap. One must
know what looks good on them. And invest in a full-length mirror.
Who are some of your personal favorite designers and why?
Nicolas Ghesquière always brings technology and innate beauty to
his designs. Mr. Armani is another favorite: he has been true to his signature

What are some of your personal favorite wardrobe staples? Why?
I am always cold so woolly pieces are great: wool flannel shorts and over-knee
socks and tights, silk collared blouses (such as vintage YSL—I own
dozens!), oversized or shrunken waistcoats and vests, tailored jackets (from
a tartan plaid LV Victorian to a suede two-dimensional Margiela to a tweed
cropped Chanel).

You and Alex, in fact, both have a great sense of style. Your daughter already
appears to be walking in your shoes, but not in the clotheshorse, hung-up
sort of way. How have you struck such a healthy sense of style and self in her?
She's an individual who's never had any qualms about stating her thoughts,
though a true diplomat she is always. She borrows a lot of my clothes, MLB
and others. We've been the same size since she was 10. She'll be 13 in February.

You collaborated with Christy Turlington on her Nuala collection. Any more
projects like this on the horizon?
I designed the Nuala collection with Christy for Autumn-Winter ’05
and Spring-Summer ’06. The collection no longer exists. These were
the last two collections. Working with Christy and Puma was a great experience.
I learned to work with a team and address some very specific aspects in
a collection, yet still having the work look like I designed it.

Nuala, which is rooted in a lifestyle of yoga and pilates, was, in fact,
not such a reach for you since you are a pilates enthusiast. Why does this
form of body conditioning appeal to you above all others?
Pilates came about as a body-conditioning regime designed for convalescing
dancers and athletes. It incorporates a series of elongating exercises promoting
strength and agility using your outer muscles, thus the appearance of a
longer, leaner figure. Pilates is an ongoing practice; you can't get bored;
there is always a new challenge. I have been doing it for 10 years and look
forward to practicing for the next 50.

What makes you so very appealing is that you are more than just about fashion.
What else do you do for kicks?
The opera and ballet are two of my favorite pastimes. Keeping abreast of
contemporary and modern art is also essential to me. I love to bowl. I love
to fly, whether on a trapeze swing or plane or parachuting. Attending Lillian's
volleyball games and gymnastic competitions also score high on my favorite kicks!

1 comment:

Ulysses said...

LOVE Magda Berliner--can't wait to come and see these things in person!