At this year's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin, 28-year-old Franziska Michael showed a sporting set of crisply lined skimmer dresses, gaucho pants, separates, a maillot piece and a dramatic, watery gown tumbling from an umpire’s chair. The collection was small but tight; using a palette of bitter lemon yellows, white, charcoals and umber and garnished with geometric and digital print, visor accessories, ankle socks and… Crocs.
“Crocs? Wirklich?!” Franziska nods her head firmly. Originally from a small village in the center of Germany, she came to Berlin to study fashion design at ESMOD. After graduating in 2010, she remained in the capital to produce her bold collections from a modest Kreuzberg atelier, in which her petite form is dwarfed by giant rolls of fabric, ironing boards, sewing machines and walls stickered with photos and swatches from floor to ceiling.
This latest offering is another confident stroke for the young designer, who recently won the “Best Womenswear” category of the Premium Young Designers Award. We caught up with her after the show, you can listen the official presentation soundtrack here.
Hi Franziska! Can you talk a little about your latest collection?
I was inspired by the cult of ’90’s tennis. I found the colours and the geometry especially exciting. You can find elements such as tennis balls and field markings in the prints, and the cuts of the clothes are very linear. In my head I had elite sports, tennis socks, older women playing bridge with sunscreen on their head, summer memories of my youth spent running around in Birkenstock slippers or being on the tennis court with my parents in the holidays. That’s why I chose the Crocs – I think they are what the Birkenstocks were in the ’90’s. They’re really funny!
Why Berlin?
I came here to study fashion design. Berlin is known for its creativity and diversity. For a young company, it’s still cheap and the fashion industry here has developed very well in recent years. The bi-annual fashion week is a good presentation platform.
Do you travel often?
Not so often, until this point, but it's getting more necessary for work. I’ve stayed in Brooklyn, New York a few times and felt very comfortable there. I could imagine being there for a while, but I'm happy in Berlin right now. I'm very close with my family.
If you hadn't gone into fashion what might you have done instead?
I don't know… I was always creative and I knew that I would be studying something in a creative field.
Where do you usually find inspiration? Would you consider yourself a conceptual designer or a technical designer?
Various things inspire me... Nature, photography, the interpersonal and everyday life. I like to use a lot of different components and bring them to a whole. During my studies I thought more technically, but now I´m more conceptual.
What kind of processes are important to you? How do you tend to work?
I start to research everything I find interesting: pictures, colours, new fabrics, then I pull it together and create the prints for the new collection. The rest develops over the following weeks. It could be that I make most of the looks a few days before the collection has to be finished. I love to work intuitively.
Who do you trust when you need feedback about your work?
Sometimes when I need an opinion, I trust a good friend with whom I studied, my boyfriend or my family. But in general I trust my feelings.
What's next for you?
I will try to show my collection internationally. In September I will be in Paris.