Discover the trendsetting style „made in Berlin“ of one of Germany’s most important designers of the post-war era and get inspired by nine contemporary Berlin-based designers who translate its timeless modernity into their very own design language
1940 – First successes after the war
When Uli Richter after his apprenticeship as a Diplom-Textilkaufmann begins his practical training at the Horn fashion house in Berlin in 1948, he soon realises that he wants more: he wants to design clothes. In 1949 he produces his first model dress – Marcelle.
(Illustration of summer dresses by the fashion house Horn, 1941)
1950 – S & E Modelle Uli Richter
After four years at Horn, Uli Richter becomes the Head Stylist and, at the same time, the manager at the fashion house Schröder & Eggeringhaus in 1952. The fashion thinker has his international breakthrough in Venice in 1957 when he wins first prize at the International Cotton Festival ("Primo Mondiale del Cotone"). Due to his great success the company is re-named S & E Modelle Uli Richter.
Tomato-red evening gown
The typical style of Uli Richter is already obvious in the creations for S & E Modelle. The sporty elegance and understatement, which characterise the tomato-red evening gown, run through the whole of the designer’s creations. This radical simplicity in cut and material was unusual, especially for evening wear.
1960 – Uli Richter Modelle
Together with Dorothea Köhlich, who he had met at Horn, Uli Richter already starts his own business in 1959, under the name of Uli Richter Modelle GmbH. As the first German fashion designer he introduces a less expensive prêt-a-porter collection under the name of uli richter special.
1970 – Development of potential
Uli Richter expanded his business worldwide up to his 20th company anniversary in 1979. After Richter creates the outfits for the Japanese hostesses for the German Pavilion at the World Exhibition in Osaka in 1970, the Asian market is also open to him. From 1971 onwards Richter extends his product range to include bags and suitcases to complement his idea of the total look, the aesthetic union of clothing and accessories.
Evening coat "Golden Gate"
High-profile connections consolidated his reputation as the German designer. From 1970 onwards the outfits of Rut Brandt, wife of the former German Chancellor Willy Brandt, for every state visit were designed exclusively by Uli Richter and she achieved international recognition of understated elegance in his designs.
uli richter men
In his men’s fashion collection of Autumn/Winter 1973/74 Uli Richter devotes himself to the new interpretation of the classical man’s suit for the first time. He feels that something has to be done about the ill-fitting suits and he hopes that his customers’ husbands will also let themselves be inspired by him.
1980 – New start
After more than 30 years as a fashion designer Uli Richter closes down his company in 1982. To say a fitting farewell to his customers he goes on tour throughout Germany and Switzerland between 1986 and 1989 with his interseason Charity Collection. At the same time a completely new field of activity is opened up to him when he is appointed to a professorship at the College of Arts, the present Berlin University of the Arts.
Paris the city of inspiration
Rolf Horn already takes Uli Richter with him to the Parisian Haute Couture shows in France during the latter’s time as a trainee. From 1952 onwards Richter travels regularly to the shows of Christian Dior, Nina Ricci, Cristóbal Balenciaga and Givenchy. For decades he maintains a professional relationship with Hubert de Givenchy.
Archive drawing of an evening gown in shocking pink
The day after the shows the designs can be examined via a commission agent and a preferred paper cut purchased. This cut can be used freely by Uli Richter. An archive drawing shows the interpretative realization of a Givenchy design for an evening gown in shocking pink from 1989/90.
Visiting magazine editors with students
It is Richter’s approach not merely to teach Haute Couture as a theory. Through cooperation with industrial companies, visits to fashion editorial departments and excursions to the Haute couture shows in Paris he offers the students many opportunities to come into contact with the fashion scene.
1988 – Herbstlicht
Uli Richter regularly provides materials for the projects with which the students can work. In the project Herbstlicht wintery materials of suede and new wool from Uli Richter’s atelier are used. The students create timeless pieces which still possess a certain topicality today.
Model by Carmen Müller, 1988/89
1988/89 - Disco Look
In the brash project Disco Look the students examine the going-out fashions of the past decades. Unusual interpretations are created, between the decorous polka-dot dress and the outrageous striped jumpsuit with items borrowed from the bondage scene, such as a patent leather corsage.
Black patent leather corsage with black-and-white striped jumpsuit by Antje Drinkuth, 1988/89
Costume of glen plaid and uli richter men-model with a glen plaid coat, 1973
William Fan, who commutes between Europe and China, creates elegant, wearable and unexcited unisex fashion. Influences from both worlds can be found in the model displayed here, which skillfully takes up the material mix typical of Uli Richter.
Pink-coloured velvet coat and evening gown embroidered, 1957
The two graduates of the Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee, Inna Stein and Caroline Rohner, move between fashion and art with their avant-garde creations. From the beginning of their collaborative work they have been concerned with textiles as a creative basis.
Ensemble with kimono-styled jacket, ca. 1975
Colourful, loud, brash – this was how the fashion of Timm Süßbrich, who studied Fashion Design at the ESMOD Berlin, was characterised up to now. After a creative new orientation he returned to a casual-elegant Everyday-Casual-Chic, timeless and a recollection of the standard of craftsmanship, artistic and sustainable aspiration of fashion design.
Wide-cut mohair coat, 1958
For Michael Sontag, graduate of the Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee, the creative process is intuitive and flowing. In the course of his design process he drapes the fabric on a dressmaker’s dummy. Sontag found inspiration in the wide-cut mohair coat which he interpreted in a contemporary way.
In her model she also follows her design idea of overcoming barriers through a combination of streetwear and intelligent sportswear, in which the width of the trouser-leg can be adjusted to the body of the wearer.
Coat with shirt and pleated trousers
After dismantling the classical man’s suit into modules, it was put back together in a new way in the design process. Brachmann does not, however, only take up Richter’s men‘s collection, but rather links connecting points in the details to his women’s collections.
Evening dress with embroidered bolero, 1973
Julia Leifert designs sustainable clothing in the high-end area with her label. The graduate fashion and design manager not only places great emphasis on the high quality of the material, but also on its fair and transparent production conditions.
Text: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Katrin Lindemann
Concept: Katrin Lindemann und Merle Walter
Editing / Realisation: Merle Walter
© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz www.smb.museum