Lessons in Maximalism from a Berlin Design Duo

On the launch of the luxury label's first collection, we catch up with RIANNA + NINA to hear how they charmed London with their maximalist designs

RIANNA + NINA fabulous salon in Berlin’s Mitte has long been a closely-guarded secret of the city’s style set that treasure the brand’s handbags handcrafted from Hermès-inspired scarves, voluminous kaftans in a mash-up of Pucci-esque prints and chinoiserie silk, and one-off art-deco lamps and furniture.

Not content with rehashing the past, last week, during BFW the designers launched a ready-to-wear line with an elegant presentation in the gardens of a city palace, and for the first time, since their launch in 2014, developed their own prints and silhouettes from scratch. The resulting collection sat between the modern-day drama of Alessandro Michele’s Gucci, and a fresh take on the work of 1970’s design icons such as Bill Blass and Ossie Clark

The instinct for what fashion fans want right now comes from the German-born Nina Kuhn, the business head of the pair, who previously lead communications at the French department store, Galeries Lafayette. The rich references to the past stem from the experience of Grecian Rianna Nektaria Kounou, who also owns Berlin’s most luxurious vintage store Rianna in Berlin, famed for its selection of Chanel cocktail jewels and original 1970s designer pieces from YSL.

Perhaps, it comes as no surprise that the brand is hit in the UK, where statement-making eccentricity is valued. “We went to London for a few days before Christmas to present our line to the press and buyers, and it was crazy”, says Kuhn, who in one short week managed to charm Lisa Armstrong Fashion Director of The Telegraph to write a huge piece on them, cause a hysterical episode at British Vogue HQ, and secure stockists including, Browns and Moda Operandi (founder Lauren Santa Domingo is a firm fan, and regularly wears the brand’s kimonos to events).
With a more-is-more aesthetic creeping slowly into Berlin’s usually pared-back look  (see Dumitrascu as another example of OTT fashion from the capital) prepare to see more brands like Rianna and Nina upping the city’s stakes in maximalist style.

Designers in the middle: Rianna Nektaria Kounou and Nina Kuhn.

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