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Marcel Ostertag: Made in Berlin; Making it in Manhattan

By Jackie Mallon

Sep 13, 2018

Marcel Ostertag’s S/S 2019 collection, entitled “Muse,” was Studio 54 meets the Kit Kat Klub, show-biz glitterati meets influencer bourgeoisie, and an unapologetic ode to loose-limbed ladies (and accompanying gentlemen) who twirl all night on stardust-coated dance floors. As the 30s were seen thorough the disco-dazzled eyes of the 70s, here the 70s were seen through today’s hungry social media filter. A palette of coral, sunshine yellow, lilac, pink, and multiple blues was punctuated with sequins, tassels and ruffles. There were tiered floor length chiffon frocks with billowy sleeves, rainbow-striped lurex leisure suits, and night-owl over-the-knee tiered fringe boots that would make the most somber occasion sashay into debauchery. And for the guys, an assortment of printed silk suiting, cashmere or broderie anglaise hoodies and unlined trenches in cornflower blue Guipure lace.

After his NYFW show, the German-born designer spoke to FashionUnited backstage about the importance of showing his collection in the U.S.

It’s your 6th season showing at NYFW and you also show in Berlin. Why those 2 cities?

Berlin is my hometown and I have a lot of fans there, a huge crowd of press show up to see my collection. Then we add more outfits and show the collection here because New York is international. Press from Japan, from China, everyone comes here, whereas in Berlin it’s just the German, Swiss, Austrian press, and that’s not enough for my collection.

How has showing in NYC affected your business?

We doubled our business in Europe as a result––it’s crazy!

What are the similarities between Berlin and NYC and how does that translate into the fashion?

Berlin is like New York in the 70s. Wild, crazy, openminded.

Do you feel any pressure to expand your retail presence here in the states?

That wasn’t my first intention when I started to show here. I think New York has just the perfect position in the show calendar, then we can be at the fairs in Milan, in Paris. We have to see if we find the right agent for us, because I’m kind of a family guy, I need the right person for sales here and so far I didn’t find them, but maybe in the future. We’re opening the online shop now to the U.S.

Many smaller designers––even larger ones––struggle to establish an entirely Made in U.S.A. business, but you manufacture entirely in Germany. How do you manage it?

I have two lovely production companies, one for knitwear, one for tailoring, and I know all the people, all the seamstresses, and they just do a fantastic job. They love to work with us because we provide good conditions, we pay German rates, we have minimal waste which is one of the most sustainable things we’re doing. It’s just a family atmosphere that I have going on in my company.

Your dresses are very glamorous. Is there one female on the planet you would love to get a call from requesting a dress?

Cate Blanchett.

Name one trend or style you wish would just go away.

Showing too much skin.

Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry.

Photos FashionUnited