Two Berlin designers are acclaimed on the international fashion scene, but still struggle in the home market. Their bright neon colours and razzmatazz forms intersect in the worlds of fashion and pop art.
The "C-Neeon" label has been dubbed the "New Bauhaus Fashion" in the US
Clara Leskovar and Doreen Schulz have suddenly been catapulted to the ranks of international fashion stardom. Still in their early thirties, the two Berlin designers, who had first collaborated together at the School of Art and Design in Berlin Weissensee, joined forces to create their label c.neeon in 2004. The “c” stands for Clara and “neon” was Schulz's childhood nickname.
Their style combines pop art and bold geometric razzmatazz patterns in bright neon colours with a repertoire of ready to wear summer frocks, voluminous skirts, leggings and even carpets.
Fashion flows into the modern art world. Besides the duo's prolific collection, which has already emerged on the market, their designs are also being showcased at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Berlin.
A former nursery school becomes an atelier
Their atelier however is far from Berlin's fashionable districts. They deliberately chose a grotty East Berlin neighbourhood, where it is easier to be focused on their work, said Leskovar.
A former nursery school suffices as an atelier. Besides Leskovar and Schutz, the 250 square metre (2,690 square feet) space is shared with graphic designers, photographers and advertising personnel. The Berliners enjoy the open working atmosphere, which where the exchange of ideas and inspiration flows.
Success follows hard work. Both women already begin their working day at the atelier at 8 a.m. and both are juggling careers with motherhood. Doreen Schulz has one child and Clara Leskovar is expecting one.
The duo's colourful designs are a hit abroad, but not at home
Topstars in Japan and US, but dismal results at home
In the US, design critics have already billed c-neeon as the “new Bauhaus fashion” for the splash of fun colours and forms. Sometimes it looks as if the scissors slipped as they were cutting out geometric lines and patterns that wind up being knotted and asymmetrical.
Their neon designs in shocking red, blue, green and orange are sold in 25 countries. In Japan, the Berlin duo is feted as top stars, but in Germany they struggle with the financials. German wardrobes are dominated by conservative greys and blacks, so Leskovar and Schulz tried to keep the colourless German taste in mind for their third collection in black and white, but that didn't work either.
But they are undaunted. Since they emerged with their winter fashion designs in 2004/05, the Berliners have brought out two new collections every year. The next step will marketing their first carpet collection and poster size images of their designs at a photo gallery.