Interview

INTERVIEW WITH KARIN BRETTMEISTER


 

 

Published in Magazyn Wesele Issue 2(50) 2018


Let’s start from the beginning, how did your adventure to Ritual Unions?


I started making wedding dresses on the side in my small apartment. In the beginning it was just an experiment for me. I had a strong desire to create, produce and sell my own designs. I did’t have a concrete business plan at first and the creative process was my priority. I’ve won a national award for one of my designs and the interest in my work increased more and more. Slowly it all became more serious and finally I felt confident my experiment will develop to a great business. I enjoy selling wedding dresses, because it’s the most special dress in life. Being able to be a part of this unique event through my work is an awarding feeling and I’m very grateful life brought me there.


Why the name brand? What were your goals assuming RU?


Ritual Unions is the perfect description for what my brand stands for. It’s not about weddings in a classic sense, it’s about something more essential. It’s about those very meaningful moments in life that you celebrate together with other people who are important to you. Only the feeling matters, and the only thing that’s important is that you can be 100 % true and yourself. Weddings are not a competition, it’s not about a social status or other possible reasons. Weddings are an act of pure love, and that’s the main - and only meaning. It doesn’t matter if you are poor or rich, young or old, straight or gay, … I am aiming Individualists, who want to stay authentic, especially at this very big decision to spend the rest of your live with your most loved person. My goals were to offer a different style of wedding dresses and an alternative to conventional bridal wear, the outmoded image of the perfect „Princess Bride“.


How did it happen that you started to design wedding dresses? Apparently you come from a tailor’s family. Have you always known that you want to deal with fashion?


Yes. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It was always my dream to become a fashion designer. I was fascinated by the development of clothes already in the atelier of my grandparents. My grandfather used to construct the pattern, cut the fabric and my grandmother used to sew everything together - and they still do that! It’s in their blood and it’s the same with me. Wouldn’t I see my sewing machine everyday, carry around needles and pins everywhere I go, couldn’t I see a piece of creation/art coming to life through my hands, my life wouldn’t be complete. It’s an intense passion that I have been following all my life.


Where did you get education, who did you practice with?


I studied at Esmod International Fashion School in Munich, were I graduated 2012 with several awards. After designing the Couture Collections for Georgina Chapman at Marchesa in New York and developing Haute Couture dresses for J. Mendel to show in Paris, it was clear to me - I will never leave Couture. That’s what I want to do for the rest of my life. I gathered some experience here and there and when the time felt right, I started the adventure Ritual Unions.


Your dresses are very elaborately prepared - details, small 3D elements, non-standard lines. This is Couture fashion. Each element is made by hand? For example, flowers closed in your forms completely deviating from the scheme of the „little princess“. This idea of designing wedding dresses was not risky?


I understand what you mean by risky. It’s not the first time someone asked me that question, however I’m still surprised. From my perspective - coming from Couture Fashion - the „little princess“ scheme doesn’t exist. A lot of fashion designers don’t like to design bridal fashion, because the customers do have a very particular idea of a wedding dress and how it SHOULD look. So the creative freedom is limited. My challenge is to introduce new ideas, unconventional techniques and modern, edgy looks to brides - with a high standard of quality, craftsmanship and a lot of handwork. If you compare my designs with runway fashion, it fits in, there is nothing risky about it. The bridal world needs a new fresh approach considering fashion. Do brides these days really want to be princesses still? In 2018 you get married because YOU want to, so you should be able to also look the way YOU want to.


In general, you are a brave creator. The model presenting your main collection and the limited one is heavily tattooed. With dresses that you design - most are very transparent, and even look like extensive lingerie. How do creators in the wedding industry react to your projects?


They love it or hate it. Most of them love it. The wedding industry is at a changing point. Through instagram and pinterest, weddings became an artwork - designed from bottom to top. In my opinion almost a little bit too beautifully and perfectly designed. I prefer contrasts and edgy models. Since my label is roughening up the lovely and neat wedding industry, I decided to go for a rebellious look. I don’t want to create an image of the „perfect woman“. Every woman is perfect the way she is. Diversity is what makes our society interesting. I’m not brave, I just listen to my heart. The model in the photos is a friend of mine and she just recently shaved her head. I think she is insanely beautiful.


What are you doing dresses with? Where do you bring materials from?


I mostly use silk fabrics, tulle, lace and embroidery from Spain, Italy, France and Germany. The quality of the material is very important to me. I don’t ever make a sketch and look for material after that. First I choose the fabric, then I create the dress. I need to touch the fabric, play with it to get a feeling what it wants to become. I drape with the original fabric on the mannequin to make sure I get the best understanding about the particular material and its characteristics.


How long does it take to prepare one dress? Each of them passes through your hands?


Developing a new dress can take up to 14 days. It’s a long creative process and I try different options before I decide on one style. If I have a good day, I am also able to create a dress in one night. It’s comparable to art and very personal. If the dress is ready and it gets produced, I still do most by myself. The label is super young and the company is very small. It’s hard to find manufacturers who are able to produce couture dresses with those elaborate techniques I’m using. I’m only offering made-to-measure, so yes, each dress passes through my hands.


Your projects are very modern. However, you emphasize the traditions of fabrication and made-to-measure sewing, sustainable development. How do you define your clients? Do they put just such a combination of tradition and modernity?


When you get married it’s something really special. Getting married in a made-to-measure couture dress gives you an incomparable feeling. Automatically you move different, more slowly, more aware, you are the center of attention. It’s like magic. Knowing, you are the only person on the world wearing that dress. It was made just for you. Traditions are very meaningful and an enrichment of our culture that should be preserved. A wedding is a beautiful ritual as well as the traditional way of making couture. I don’t see why it can’t be combined with modernity. Traditions are timeless and sustainable, nevertheless my customers want to stand out from the mass, being individual.


Quite a few in your collection is two-element wedding dresses corset / blouse and skirt - you can maneuver in these skirts and match them to appropriate corsets? Does each skirt have a predetermined „top“? Do you think that such „split“ are a growing trend in the wedding?


Yes, more and more brides now decide on wearing separates for their wedding. Women don’t like to put on some masquerade, they want to wear what they usually wear too, just maybe a little bit more elegant and fancy for this occasion. A lot of brides prefer to be comfortable. Separates are also a good option for the civil wedding. I like to design overall looks, so there is a predetermined top to each skirt or pants. But the combination is just a suggestion and I love seeing my pieces combined with other designers creations too.


What are the challenges you put in front of you? Where two / three years will Karin Brettmeister?


The big challenge is to bring my company forward while staying true to myself. I know I haven’t chosen the easiest way, but definitely the most exciting and rewarding one. Like every artist I want to make a difference and create from the bottom of my heart. So much happened already in my first year of business so the limits of what I could reach in a few years from now are endless. In my experience it’s essential to have a solid plan but also to stay flexible and open for new opportunities on the way. I can’t wait to see my „Baby“ grow up and I’m curious where the universe will lead me.

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