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“Haute Papier”, sustainable fashion and the Queen...


… this headline might sound like the beginning of a fairytale, but it’s actually a summary of the first Friday in October at Bikini Berlin. And it was indeed a very magical day so the fairytale comparison isn’t actually as absurd as it first sounds!


“Haute Papier” – this wonderful play on words perfectly describes the creations by Swedish artist Bea Szenfeld, a collection consisting of whimsically beautiful paper gowns made using a pair of scissors, tape, string and thousands of sheets of regular A4 paper. The handmade costumes have been worn by performers including Lady Gaga and Björk, as well as dancers, singers and musicians from the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm. 15 artworks from this collection are now exclusively being presented at Bikini Berlin until 29th October. The exhibition includes the wonderfully striking photos by photographer Karolina Henke, showing, for example, a ballerina swinging on an ostentatious chandelier, musicians from the Royal Opera posing between hundreds of suitcases, and the ensemble’s singers, musicians and dancers wearing Bea Szenfeld’s paper designs…


The exhibition was opened exclusively by Queen Silvia of Sweden as part of her state visit to Berlin. But before that she was taken on a tour of Bikini Berlin, which included stopping off at the Swedish pop-up box “Borås Stad”, a box concept that has brought a conglomerate of different Swedish designers to Bikini Berlin. You can visit them here until the end of February 2017.


A seminar entitled “Facing the Fashion Paradigm Shift – The Relevance of Sustainability” accompanied the opening, presented by the Swedish embassy, Bikini Berlin and the Swedish Institute to a number of invited guests from the fashion industry. The event was hosted by a very charming Rolf Heimann, the founding director of the hessnatur Foundation. Speakers included Professor Rebecca Earley from the University of the Arts London and the Chelsea College of Arts, the Sustainability Director of Filippa K, Elin Larsson, Sustainability Manager of H&M, Hendrik Heuermann, and Professor Valentin Rothmaler, the President of Esmod Berlin International.


Without pointing their finger in an accusatory way, all of the speakers sensitively drew the audience’s attention to the topic of sustainability in fashion. It was reported, for example, that there still aren’t enough customers taking advantage of the H&M Group’s offer – of dropping off unwanted items of clothing at their stores when making a new purchase – despite the discount this entitles them to. And the sustainability concepts being offered by Scandinavian label Filippa K are also impressive: in selected cities the label is running its own Filippa K second-hand stores with unwanted Filippa K items that customers have brought in before buying new pieces by the label. And under the title “Curated Wardrobe”, Filippa K is also compiling a selection of key pieces that environmentally aware customers should have in their wardrobes as basics – for a wardrobe that is simple rather than excessive. To ensure that these items are properly looked after, the label is offering its own line of textile care products like the Organic Fine Wash and Fabric Care Detergent. 

And of course a lot of other inspiring labels that produce sustainable fashion were also showcased – whether rain jacket, jeans or trend items. From the conversations I overhead during the breaks, it quickly became clear that the event encouraged a lot of people to rethink the topic of sustainability…

All in all, it was a wonderful day full of art, fashion and royal glamour – captured on film for you below.