Thank God for Damir Doma

Yesterday we witnessed a hostile takeover of the tent by commercial industry labels, a depressing sight that kept me wondering about the purpose and meaning of the Berlin fashion week. So when it was time to decide which of the competing events I should go to at night, there was absolutely no question about it. Damir Doma presented his secondary label, Silent, on the rooftop terrace at EWerk with two films and that’s where I wanted to be. The young, unpretentious fashion creator just showed a critically acclaimed collection in Paris, where he works and lives, but for Silent, he chose to come to Berlin, a city he thinks captures the spirit of the label better than Paris. I caught up with the soft-spoken prodigy before the guests arrived to discuss the local fashion scene:

sleek: You’re in Berlin during fashion week. Why?
Damir Doma:
I’m not here for the fashion week, I’m here for the city. Berlin is young and contemporary, not a high fashion city. It’s the right place for me to show Silent, a line that is young and pure.

sleek: You’re not showing the collection on models though.
I’m showing a film that I’ve made together with Malcolm Pate, with a soundtrack by DJ Hell. The film is about the mood of the collection, it’s an expression of the Damir Doma universe. It’s very sensual and instinctive. Silent – as the name suggests – doesn’t want to be loud, It’s subtle and elegant. Silent is a product that doesn’t need a fashion show.

sleek: So are half of the things we’re seeing on the catwalk here.
Yes, it’s a joke. In Berlin, you have three forces working against each other on the fashion week, and that’s what happens. The fashion week here has no character. It tries to be something it isn’t instead of concentrating on the city’s strengths. So people don’t really know what Berlin stands for, what would they see if they came to the fashion week. Here, you don’t have the organic process of working your way up as a designer to the point where you are ready to do a catwalk show. All you have to do here is pay the price IMG is asking for and you’re in. In Paris, no self-respecting designer would dare to do that. They’d be slashed by the critics and would never be able to show again.  The Berlin fashion week has nothing to do with fashion, it’s entertainment. Just like a reality show where they cast models. It has nothing to do with the real fashion world, it’s pure cheap entertainment.

sleek: What a fitting comparison, considering that half of the front row seats here are occupied by the German casting show rejects and wannabes.
It angers me that these days, everything is labeled “Fashion.” Anyone working with textile is a “fashion designer.” It’s ridiculous and cheapening. I actually distinguish between Designers and Creators. A fashion creator is someone with a vision, someone that doesn’t need to see what the others are doing. Following the business is not creating.

sleek: So do you see a future for Berlin as a fashion capital?
There is talent here, but there’s no support for good emerging designers. There’s no central organisation like in Paris or London supporting young designers and so the only labels that can afford to show are the money ones. Berlin should define its own character, not try to replace London or any other city. London would always be better than a London rip-off.