Fabricating Fabric Falls
His face pops up all over Berlin and the fashion mags have termed him as a rising star. But his fame isn’t due to Berlin languor. I meet Michael Sontag on a Saturday morning to find him in a t-shirt busily designing away in his GreifswalderStraße atelier. As his social smile fades quick into pin-pointed concentration, I realise this is an artist who dedicates time and thought into each kill shot.
Fabricating Fabric Falls
And that has served him extremely well; Internships at Kenzo and Givenchy in Paris gave Michael a solid foundation to start his own label after graduating with distinctions from the Weissensee College of Design. Since then, he has been the winner of the 2009 "Textil Innovationspreis Award" and the 2010 "Start your Fashion Business Prize" even while being a finalist for the 2009 "Designer for Tomorrow Award" and the 2010 "Mango Fashion Awards." His debut collection at the 2009 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin was praised as the best by The New York Times.
These days, Michael is gearing up for the upcoming MBFW Berlin in July 2012 and even running off to Ancona to discuss shoe design with the traditional masters of Italy. The green sewing machine hums away and cut lines are being worked out in the atelier but the minuscule details of the day-to-day doesn’t inhibit this designer from scheming up grand plans for the next decade of Michael Sontag.
Mr. Vagabond: Michael, I recently read you've visited all the continents in the world. If so, why Berlin as your place of practice?
Michael: Berlin is perfect in its composition. It has everything you want of a big city, but is quite relaxed at the same time. I find that very inspiring.
Mr. Vagabond: Ten years being based here and three holding your own label, how has your work evolved?
Michael: I think I’m more aware of what it means to be a fashion designer. I'm much more concentrated and focused, also design wise…
Mr. Vagabond: But was there anything daunting, any kind of hesitation, about starting your own fashion label?
Michael: Oh absolutely. I had never planned to do that.
Mr. Vagabond: Well it's worked out rather well. You also mentioned you were in Ancona to speak with shoe designers for your own line. Do you see other expansions to your label in the near or distant future?
Michael: It was really beautiful in Italy. I visited all the factories and workshops there to see how my shoe designs are made. I’m doing a cooperation with a german shoe company. I'd definitely enjoy more design-collaborations in the future.
Mr. Vagabond: Based on your atmospheric look-books, most are shot in nature and hardly any in a photo studio as some prefer. Why so?
Michael: Nature and naturalness - that´s what I try to transport through my designs and as well with the staging of my look-books.
Mr. Vagabond: A lot of your contemporaries from school are based here in Berlin as well. With some, you hold a close friendship. But do you regard them as rivals/competition?
Michael: They are my competitors. But I see them as my friends and I will help and support them whenever I can.
Mr. Vagabond: When facing design blocks, how do you get through the tough days when no inspiration seems to come?
Michael: Eat, sleep, see friends - inspiration comes when I´m happy and relaxed.
Text & Photography: Mr. Vagabond