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The International Fashion Night Munich
© dpa
Innovation and diversity: Munich a focal point for fashion

June 18, 2008

Fashion has a high profile in Munich. The city has numerous high-quality outlets offering a wide range of products from international luxury brands to individual ArtCouture.

Design studios, fashion fairs, colleges and style magazines all contribute to the city's reputation as a fashion mecca. Maximilianstrasse with its historic buildings and the Fünf Höfe complex located on Theatinerstrasse – a new real estate project by celebrity architects Herzog&de Meuron from Switzerland – are now well-established as the city's most luxurious shopping streets, where there is the added cachet of seeing and being seen. International visitors rub shoulders with local celebs who, since the cult TV series Monaco Franze (1982) and Kir Royal (1986), have come to be known ironically as the "schickeria" (from the Italian word "sciccheria", meaning glamour and elegance). They symbolise the celebrity scene that is defined by their presence at the "in-crowd" parties and events that are the bread and butter of the tabloid press. Around the Bavarian National Theatre, there is a wealth of luxury outlets featuring international designers from A to Armani to Chanel, Dior, Hermès, Prada and Vuitton to Z for Zegna. German designers, too, are well-represented – global players such as Bogner, Boss, Escada, Oska, Jil Sander and Strenesse have suitably stylish boutiques here. But those who prefer edgy style to designer labels can find plenty to interest them at Maendler, Theresa, Pool, Klamotte or Serie A.

Well-heeled upper-class locals whose taste runs to the conservative but who still want to look stylist frequent Loden-Frey. The company has more than a hundred years of experience as a supplier of loden clothing and accessories. Combining the stylish with the traditional, the lavishly proportioned fashion house offers classic understatement as well as classy designer labels such as Etro, Kenzo and Moschino. Above all, it is here that the visitor can find Munich's largest range of high-quality traditional "tracht" clothing.

Individual design and flair

Downtown Munich offers all the department stores customarily found in German city centres, along with sports shops, fashion chains and cut-price outlets, all located in the pedestrian zones along Neuhauser- and Kaufingerstrasse. This intermingling of high-class stores and bargain outlets is not unusual in a European city. But Munich has developed a new awareness of individuality: many of its stores offer a mixture of designer fashion, carefully selected interior and lifestyle products, and coffee-table literature on fashion and art. The city also has its own-label boutiques, situated mainly in the districts of Lehel and Schwabing and around Gärtnerplatz. The area around Gärtnerplatztheater, also known as the "Italian village", is a vibrant fashion focal point, with stores like Lebensart R. Wittgenstein, Ostertag + Rogy, Wandelbar and Slips providing outlets for Japanese and Belgian designers, the wrap dresses of the rediscovered Diane von Fürstenberg and collections by German newcomers Michael Michalsky and LaLaBerlin. Susanne Bommer, whose style is a heady blend of high-class grunge and deconstructivism, has opened her second store here. Schwabing is becoming increasingly popular, with those in the know frequenting its cutting-edge outlets such as Off & Co, which supplies designerwear by Dries van Noten, Stella McCartney, D’squared2, Nina Ricci and Lanvin, while Hanf & Schokolade – specialising in clothing made from organic hemp made in Germany – is located in Belgradstrasse opposite.

Although Munich – unlike Paris or Antwerp – does not define itself mainly through the couture and cultural dimensions of fashion, there is still a thriving market for individual design and high-quality craft here. Unique fashion pieces, accessories and jewellery are available at the stylish Bavarian Crafts Council store and Artefakt, while head-turning millinery can be purchased at Eisenblätter und Triska or Ina Böckler, made-to-measure shoes from Eduard Meier and designer spectacles at Freudenhaus Optik while international fashion magazines are available from Soda. Gabriele Blachnik and Natascha Müllerschön have made a name for themselves thanks to their star-studded clientele which includes German film stars and other high-profile ladies. With their label Ripsband Fashion newcomers Priska Homburger and Esther Amuser are banking on the corded ribbon and its versatile application. The number of independent designers with an international reputation is modest, however, although Talbot Runhof, Rena Lange and Susanne Wiebe are notable. The Rena Lange label stands for understated and elegant daywear, while event couture for evening wear is the particular strength of Talbot Runhof and Susanne Wiebe.

Fashion fairs and more besides

Besides the fashion outlets and design studios, fashion fairs and order centres have also helped make Munich's name as a fashion mecca. In August 2007, Fashion Mall Munich launched its chain of stylish showrooms alongside Fashion Atrium, Lodenfrey-Park and Sturm Plaza. The M,O,C, with its fashion trade fairs like Premium and, Infashion dedicated to avantgarde style and the well-established fabric fair munich fabric start, but especially the International Sport Articles Trade Fair (ISPO) are high points in every fashion professional's calendar. However, the city is still in mourning for its renowned Munich Fashion Week, which was phased out in 1996.

In Munich, fashion is not just about marketing and consumption. The city has a strong profile in education and print media as well, with three prestigious training colleges – the German School of Fashion for Master Craftsmen and Master Craftswomen, the international private fashion school ESMOD, and the Fashion Design Academy AMD Akademie Modedesign – training young fashion hopefuls from all over the world. Munich is also home to the editorial teams of well-known style magazines like Vogue Deutschland, GQ, Madame, Burda Modemagazin, Freundin and Elle.

With such diversity, Munich is a fashion mecca. And it's all documented in Metropolis – an International Fashion Night Munich, organised by Susanne Wiebe and Hans M. Bachmayer, and featuring video projections, installations and fashion shows by international designers, to great media acclaim.

© Goethe Institut, Online-Redaktion
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