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Interview with Franziska Kühne, designer and founder of Marlenes Töchter
Vintage – a synonym for original clothing from past decades – as well as the so-called retro fashion – new clothes that resemble previous fashion styles in design or cut – have been gaining more and more popularity in recent years. And that is not only in the trendsetting districts of big cities. Right at the edge of Berlin’s Scheunenviertel Franziska Kühne will make every vintage and retro fan’s heart beat faster. As a tailor and founder of the retro label Marlenes Töchter, she definitely knows what she’s talking about.
Last year you celebrated your label’s 10th anniversary. Can you briefly tell us a bit about how you started out?
Following my apprenticeship as a tailor and technical assistant for fashion and design, I did an internship at a 1950s label. Most of the time, however, the 50s are too colourful and striking for my taste. I wanted to do something different. Many circumstances led me to found my own label in 2005. For one, as a tailor it is very difficult to find steady employment that also pays alright. So I didn’t want to just hope for employment. Being self-employed proved to be the only way to work as a tailor who also has a child.
On your homepage it says that you “reinterpret classical cuts”. What was the idea behind Marlenes Töchter? How can we picture your fashion?
My cuts are mainly based on the fashion of the 1930s and 40s, which I personally find the most beautiful. But Marlenes Töchter is a cross between fashion label and bespoke tailoring. You can find everything, from simple trousers or skirts to elaborate individual pieces. At the moment, for example, I am doing a lot of wedding dresses.
How did you happen to also do bespoke tailoring and wedding dresses alongside your own collections?
Bespoke tailoring has always taken up a large part of my work. At the beginning, this was mainly fitting my collection to my customers, whose curves often don’t fully correspond with the sizes of the collections. Making wedding dresses just started bit by bit. To be honest, I didn’t have much interest in it at the beginning. Though by now, I sew about 25 to 35 wedding dresses a year. Some brides even approach me just four weeks before their wedding.
Your collections are rooted in past decades – why do you think the style of this time is getting more and more popular?
I think that similar to marriage, which is also experiencing a revival, retro fashion refers to classical values without being conservative. Our time is so fast moving – retro fashion, old jazz music or a nice black and white movie can make us pause for a moment. Additionally, now we also have the freedom to pick out the best parts of the many decades of fashion.
What fascinates you personally about the fashion of the 30s and 40s?
For me personally, the ladies’ and men’s fashion of that time is the ideal of being ‘well dressed’. For women, I especially like the simple silhouette of the 1940s, the expressed femininity is quite attractive I think – the cuts are sexy and feminine but without being too bombshell like. And they are especially suitable for curvy women!
You keep saying that the 30s and 40s are especially suitable for curvy women. Are most of your clients very curvy or do you rather dress the typical vintage fan?
Actually, my collections are bought by quite normal women. My youngest client is just 18 years old, my oldest already 85. Most of my regular clients are not explicitly vintage fans but women who prefer a classical style with an individual touch.
A short final question: What should every vintage fan have in their wardrobe?
Seamed stockings, definitely – they are timelessly beautiful and perfectly finish the typical look.