"Everything started with paper dolls …"
… tells me the Turkish couture cutter Berna Elsner. “Every week there was a new doll or a paper dress as a side dish in the Hürriyet-Newspaper, always lying around with my grandparents. But over time, I just got bored of using only the pre-made things, so I made my own outfits. ”
Today Berna has with ALL BALUSHE a separate label. We meet you in the small kitchen of her sewing studio to talk about her motives, her ideas and her current collection.
Please introduce yourself briefly and tell us what has made you into fashion.
I was born in Starnberg, grew up with my grandparents in Istanbul and live in Berlin today. The relation to fashion came through my grandmother. She sewed clothes and knitted things. As a kid, nobody ever asked me what I want to be when I grow up. So I think it was logical for me to emulate my grandmother.
During my apprenticeship as a lady dressmaker, I received a scholarship for gifted children. This allowed me to afford a sewing machine with which I still sew my collections. Now, at the age of 33, I graduate this year as a cutting director.
How did it happen that you set up your own fashion company??
It was a gut decision two years ago. I did not find a suitable job and did not want to bother with the fact that contracts were not kept and my salary did not arrive. Maybe that had to happen to me ALL BALUSHE could found.
Not giving up is almost a passion of mine. So I started with a tape measure of Ikea, a kitchen scissors and black wool fabric. At that time, I would never have dreamed that the dress that resulted from it would be sold directly in the LNFA store in the Bikini House.
More and more parts were added until finally a whole collection developed: “THE CONFIRMED LOVE CRIMINALS”. With the line I wanted to discuss the connection of rich, older men to young girls and thus give the food for thought that we are not so different. What we consider to be “sugary addy” also takes place in Syria, India or Niger at a different level. There it is called child marriage.
The proceeds of the Anatolian shawls from my last line, I have devoted exactly these girls. With this collection I wanted to pick up on the forgotten value of love. To express the element of throwing away, I used a pattern mix of recycled 3D mesh in combination with fine couture fabrics.
How do you create your collections and how would you describe your couture line??
Actually, I do not think much about the collection structure in advance. I want to tell something about fashion. If I could express myself with something else, I would just do it. Sometimes I wonder if it’s a curse or a blessing. Because I have moments when I really want to see no material and no thread. But then that negative feeling turns into a good one and I’m motivated to keep going.
I think I know how to handle materials and bring them together through my learned craft. When combining the collection pieces, it’s all about combining everyday clothing with elements of couture. That’s why I call my limited-edition “Couture Basics” garments.
How do you visualize your ideas??
The creative idea forms as soon as I stand in front of the fabrics and I get the desire to tell a story. Fashion is my personal means of expression, my mouthpiece. Like my Berlin Wall T-shirt line, where two punks kiss in the middle of the wall. I want to get attention for tolerance and universal love.
Realizing my ideas works thanks to a creative team of people around me, all of whom have the message of ALL BALUSHE embody and transport. In the future, I would like to cooperate even more closely with other artists who impress me. So, on the one hand, I get feedback and on the other, working with others pushes me tremendously.
Which people would you like to wear and why??
I would like to dress people like Stephen Hawking, Lisa Randall, Lesley Hazleton, Malala Yousafzai, and Barbara Hemauer Volk. People who make a difference. Fashion needs to be redeveloped, people’s awareness needs to change. Nowadays people are oriented towards stars and celebrities. These newly created “gods” are not interested in the true value of clothing. It is run after one trend after another. It is forgotten what is behind the fashion so that these “chic” parts are quickly available for the wearer. We exploit people, polluting the environment and wasting water. Also the label on our clothing must correspond to our values. We have to connect again. The circle must close again.
Finally, tell us something about your current campaign!
After a long break I sat down to my new collection. When making the parts, I often hear news on the radio. It felt terribly useless and nonsensical: There is so much suffering and drama in the world and I am approaching here? How terribly senseless and insignificant!
That’s when I came up with the idea of portraying the war from the perspective of fashion photography. The proceeds of the collection go in favor of Save the Children for the education of refugee children at the Turkish-Syrian border. Actions like these make me hopeful and give me the strength to keep going. The feeling of being able to support something and get involved where I feel it is urgent is very inspiring.
At this point I would like to thank Timo Frank and my team. Timo was ready as a photographer to visualize my project through his creative sense as I imagined. Every single member of the team has enriched the project with his commitment. Through our visionary dynamics, my series of images became the crucial quality needed to convey my message. This is a global issue that everyone, everyone in their own way, has something to say!
I would like to thank the inspiring couturerebellin and wish you a great pleasure watching behind the scenes of her current photo gallery.
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