An Interview with the MBFW-Show-Slot-Winner Isabel Vollrath

In previous years, she’s already presented as part of Berlin Fashion Week – this year, at the MBFW, with a slot funded by the Senate for Economics, Energy and Enterprises / Project Future.
© Det Nissen
© Det Nissen

The designer is by no means an unknown face in the fashion world and is especially known within the Berlin fashion scene. In previous seasons, she’s already presented as part of the Berlin Fashion Week – this year, she’s part of the MBFW, funded by the Senate for Economics, Energy and Enterprises / Project Future.

For ten years already, the Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Enterprises / Project Future hands out presentation slots at Berlin Fashion Week. Young, rising, but also established Berlin-based fashion brands can apply for the funded show slots. In July 2018, thanks to the funding of the Senate Department, three up-and-coming talents get the chance to present their latest collection at MBFW, too.

We’ve asked the slot winner what the funding means to her and what we can look forward to with regard to her runway show. Isabel Vollrath elaborated how she came up with the idea to her new collection “Es werde Licht - The poetry of light” and how she connects Venice and Berlin.

You’re one of the three winners, who were selected to present at MBFW, funded by Project Future – Congratulations! What does it mean to you to be able to present your collection at Berlin Fashion Week?

To me, this award by the Senate is especially great as, without it, I wouldn’t have even been able to present this season. As a designer, I need co-operation partners, and this time I said to myself, I’ll apply for the Senate award and eventually got the confirmation. Working with such a goal as the MBFW show slot and of course within a specific timeframe is a completely different kind of work. I work with a different kind of energy – I’m really looking forward to it!

How much do Berlin and its lifestyle influence you and your creative process?

I came to Berlin exactly 15 years ago – now I’m presenting at Berlin Fashion Week. With this in mind, I thought to myself “Wow, what a brilliant anniversary!” In 2003, I started to study in Berlin and prior to that, I lived in Venice for half a year. Through my long-term stay in Berlin, I have created a community, who always supports me. Here in Berlin, I have the feeling that anyone can put projects on without a lot of money, but solely because people want to help and work on it together. Berlin feels so lively and it’s obvious, that people here want something new and constant change.

What was the latest collection inspired by?

I have the feeling that due to my anniversary I had to take a step back, to pick up on what light expresses and what I’m interested in. This means, my collection consists of 15 years Berlin and then finishes with a bit of Venice for this year’s show.

What can the visitors of MBFW expect from Isabel Vollrath?

‚Es werde Licht’ – The Poetry of Light. It’s supposed to be an homage to the light and the colours in Venice. Similar to previous years, there’ll be a story during the show with which I’ll try to transfer the audience into a different (fashion) world by the beautiful storytelling.

What does the Berlin Fashion Week mean to the regional and international fashion industry?

Berlin Fashion Week is very important. To me, as a designer, it offers me a platform to present my collections and designs. I want to present and exhibit my collections, especially in Berlin, in front of an international audience. Berlin Fashion Week gives me the opportunity to represent Berlins fashion scene with my network, as some kind of art piece.

Berlin Fashion Week attaches importance to diversity – Trends, Sustainability, and FashionTech are three main aspects – how important is diversity in the fashion industry? And which aspect holds the most potential for the future?

Diversity is very important to me. It is especially important to me, that designer here in Berlin try to be as diverse as possible but without competing with each other too much, but by trying to be as authentic as possible. I’m not checking what’s happening left or right, I look inside of me. What would you like to express, what is the current spirit of the time? Sustainability is a focal point. For my very first collection, I worked with used ballerina shoes and made dresses out of them. Simply because it was a statement: you can create something beautiful and work with resources that are already present. Or I bought fabric rolls off the Berliner Modeinstitut, and I do link that to sustainability, too. I continue to work with it, with the consciousness that that piece may be a unique one. I would like for the industry to continue to move in that direction, the mass market needs to come to an end.

How do you see the future of your fashion brand? What are next steps?

So far I’m a couturier and work with sculptural silhouettes. This is one of my passions! But I would like to develop a small series, which can be worn daily, without a lot of volume to be produced as a line.

Furthermore, I would like to expand my team a little bit. Currently, everything is created in my atelier by myself. I don’t have a dressmaker or an intern. I think I could use support in the department of marketing, distribution and sales.

The runway show by Isabel Vollrath will be taking place as part of the MBFW on the 5th of July, at 9 pm, at eWerk Berlin. The audience can look forward to a collection with the theme light and colours of Venice, and additionally, the show will be live streamed onto a LED-screen in front of the event location.