The Genteel
April 21, 2021


Five x Five: Esther Perbrandt

Add a comment

Esther Perbrandt. Source:

This week in 5x5 we’re taking a peek at some of Berlin Fashion Week’s most promising shows. Our correspondent Lara Wiedeking chats with designer Esther Perbandt who presents tonight on the Lavera Showfloor at 19:30 GMT.

1. What do you find special about Berlin Fashion Week?

I like that it’s a comfortable “home game.” The timing forces me to be finished early for ordering season - and a longer ordering season is always good! It’s a shame that there are so many good shows and events off-location that I can’t go to, though. In a way, I’m usually glad when all the stress is over and I can get back to normal. 

2. You were born in Berlin. How has the fashion scene changed over the years?

A lot of awesome labels have grown out of Berlin in the last ten years. The city is dressed in a very unique way. I like that - it makes me proud to be a Berlin girl. I have respect for everyone who manages to hang in here and build up something creative. It’s quite hard to stay focused in this seductive city. The city loves you, but she won’t be easy on you. In German, we call that “sweetmeat and whip”!

Pieces from Perbandt's A/W 2012/13 Collection. 

Photograph by Florian Kolmer.

3. What is the most demanding aspect of preparing for a show?

There’s a difference between collections I develop to present at shows and collections I design that won’t be presented on a runway. For a show, the designers heart is blossoming and you create pieces that are stunning, but not for the mass market. The difficulty is to keep the balance so your collection will sell. Also, when you prepare a show, there are castings, hair and make-up trials, selecting a running order and then music. Guest lists are crazy, let alone organizing shoes for the show. You need a fabulous team - which I have! - that works on all this so you’re free to work on your collection until the very last day.

4. What inspired your current collection?

EP: For the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a very, very personal project. This project forces me, in a good way, to become more conscious about my body, about a very special type of woman. Of course, this has always been a topic in my designs, and I can’t help these thoughts influencing my collections. But, for this season, I was very concerned with gender identity. It wasn’t androgyny, but rather the opposite. It’s “neutrois”: the absence of any gender characteristics, the neutral body. What’s so interesting about this for me is that all the work and research I did on neutrois almost turned into a reversion: my collection is very severe and uniform, but given my usual approach, it’s also very feminine and soft.

5. How many of these new pieces can be worn by both men and women?

Well, let’s stay with “unisex” to describe styles that both men and women can wear. I never, ever plan how many unisex-style pieces I want in the next collection. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes less. Even when the collection is almost finished, two days before the show, I don’t know how many items could be versatile like that. Probably because I don’t label them as unisex. It takes someone to wear them, it depends on the person. That’s what’s so exciting about designing a new collection - the process itself! As soon as everything is finished, I’ll try out who can wear what and usually there are some unisex designs.



Sign up to receive a weekly dispatch from The Genteel.

About Us

The Genteel unearths the forces shaping global fashion and design through the lens of business, culture, society and best kept secrets. 

More about us

Our Contributors

A worldwide collective of contributors currently form The Genteel. On a daily basis our team dispatches thought-provoking and insightful articles from the streets of Oslo, Toronto, Beirut, Moscow, United Arab Emirates, Seoul and beyond.