1948 - 2016

Uli Richter Revisited: Fashion Hot Spot Berlin

Kunstgewerbemuseum, National Museums in Berlin

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

Uli Richter – Fashion Thinker
After the Second World War a new designer appears on the fashion stage in West Berlin - Uli Richter. As the youngest among the Berlin couturiers, he re-establishes the reputation of Berlin as an international fashion center, because of his worldwide success with his designs in the next 40 years. His young, elegant creations, with clean lines and unusual material combinations, capture the spirit of the time and represent internationally a style "made in Berlin".

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)

The Marcelle
Before designing the Marcelle dress, he seeked advice from individual dressmakers about what the customers liked. The result was the Marcelle dress, which became a bestseller and Uli Richter a fashion designer at Horn as time goes by.

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
ca. 1958

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.

Sketch of coat and dress by Uli Richter
Gusti Kämmerling, 1960

The target group is young, fashionable women. The materials and colours relate to his couture collection.

Reversible coat with Norwegian pattern

The pieces for the uli richter special collections like this graphite-coloured doubleface coat and the princess dress are produced industrially abroad. Uli Richter got an exclusive right to use this Norwegian knitwear used for this coat.

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.


Magazines like Burda, with whose founder Aenne Burda he had a long lasting friendship, spread his style to an ever-growing public.

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.

The clarity of the cut and the perfectly fitted seams created a modern yet elegant style. Rut Brandt wore this evening coat on the occasion of a meeting with the French President, George Pompidou, in Paris in 1973.

Evening dress "Frasquita"

Several times Rut Brandt combined the coat with the evening dress Frasquita, which Uli Richter had designed for her for the state visit to Iran in 1972.

Dressed in Uli Richter’s simple yet elegant design she embodied a new type of politician’s wife and became – similar to Jackie Kennedy – a fashion role model in Germany.

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.

Suit for uli richter men

The style is elegant but casual, with classical colour combinations such as beige-brown and high-quality materials such as silk, new wool and velvet.

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.

Evening gown in shocking pink inspired by Givenchy

Richter places great emphasis likewise on ordering the designs’ luxurious fabrics and integrates them into his collections.

Such inter-connections between the couture and fashion houses still exist up to the 1990s. They are advantageous for both parties. The external fashion designer is ensured a source of inspiration and the couture houses receive a secure source of revenue from this.

Uli Richter – Teacher
At the beginning of the winter term 1986/87 Uli Richter receives his first guest professorship for Fashion Design at the present Berlin University of the Arts. The objective of the study "Experimentelle Gestaltfindung im Bekleidungsdesign" is to train designers who can act creatively and independently to develop future-oriented clothes. The seminars are divided into projects in which a solution should be found for a design task by working together with different disciplines.

Visiting magazine editors with students
ca. 1990

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.

Photographic projects with F.C. Gundlach
ca. 1990

The pieces which the students produce in the projects with Uli Richter are regularly recorded photographically in photographic projects with F.C. Gundlach. For this the students travel to Gundlach’s PPS-Photographic Studio in Hamburg…

…or they move around together with the models in urban space in Berlin.

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

1989 – Unikat – Kleinserie – Großserie

Through his long-time cooperation with the company Bianchini-Férier Uli Richter receives exceptional silk fabrics and decides which colours the students are to work with.

By means of design collages…

…together with a written report on these, the young fashion designers show under what conditions production will be worth it.

Evening gown by Ali Thompson

Material selection, design drawings, cutting plan and model by Ali Thompson, 1989.

Uli Richter – Inspiration
How groundbreaking is Uli Richter’s style today? For the exhibition "uli richter revisited" at the Kunstgewerbemuseum, nine Berlin fashion designers have been inspired by his work and have designed new models in their own design language. Whilst Uli Richter explored new paths in the German fashion cosmos of the middle of the last century, these fashion designers show how large the shaping potential of the current fashion design scene in Berlin is. The designers found inspiration in the design, cut, material or in the colourfulness of the Uli Richter models, as well as in the type of woman of a supposed lost fashion era or in the embroidery of the Venetian rose dress of 1957.

uli richter revisited
Exhibition, 02.12.2016-23.04.2017

William Fan

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.

Coat and trousers of glen plaid with costume jacket and blouse in material-mix

Exceptional textures and layering play an essential role for the graduate of the Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee in his designs.

Layering and material-mix

Material: new wool, cotton and sequins


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.

Braided coat with printed gown with transferprint and screen printing with reflection glass beads

To create a three-dimensional effect, they covered the fabric with reflection glass beads, which also are used for the visualization of crosswalks in road construction.

Original bead embroidery

Steinrohner combines innovative production processes with traditional knitting and needlework techniques which can be seen, for example, in this piece of embroidery…

Design drawing

…which they transferred into a digital print and created crystallized ornaments.

Cystallized ornaments

Material: silk organza, polyester


Cape-coat dress, 1963/64

The Berlin fashion label of Elena Kikina, who studied Fashion Design at the Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee, specializes in sustainable knitwear and jersey fashion in minimalistic design.

Dress with knitted coat

Produced in Italy in one piece on a circular knitting machine, the connection to Uli Richter is shown not only in the material, but also in the interesting sleeve solution, the round shoulders and the open sleeve vent.

Design drawing

Material: silk wool blend

Barre Noire

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.

Ensemble of blouse, trousers and kimono-styled jacket

This feminine ideal image, inspired time and again by the 1980s type of woman, connects him with Uli Richter.

Design drawing

Material: cotton

Michael Sontag

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.

Coat with overcut sleeves

Material: wool


Palazzo trouser suit, 1968

The Frenchwoman Margot Charbonnier, graduate of the Central Saint Martin’s School in London, made a conscious decision for creative, open Berlin on founding her label Sample-CM.

Transformable jumpsuit

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.

Transformation manual

Material: polyester


Coat from the uli richter men collection, 1974

A degree in Architecture at the University of Dresden, followed by a degree in Fashion Design at the Hochschule für Kunst und Design Burg Giebichenstein Halle/Saale characterized the clear geometrical lines of the designer Jennifer Brachmann.

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.

Design drawing

Material: cotton

Nobi Talai

Autumn ensemble, ca. 1955

In her designs Nobieh Talaei mixes Persian craftsmanship and traditional elements of Near Eastern culture with urban simplicity. Today, after her degree at the ESMOD Berlin and positions in the fashion sector, she designs fashion for the Berlin City Woman.

Coat with extra large collar, slim skirt and turtleneck pullover

High-quality material can be found in all of her collections, just as much as her love of capes - which connects her to Uli Richter.

Material: new wool alpaca blend, nappa leather, woolen knit

Philomena Zanetti

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.

Trousers suit with corsage

With her trousers suit from new wool and a corsage from paper as a decelerated alternative to Fast Fashion, she shows that a simple design with a casual-urban cut and fair production are not mutually exclusive.

Paper corsage

Material: wool, paper

uli richter revisited
Exhibition, 02.12.2016-23.04.2017

uli richter revisited
Exhibition, 02.12.2016-23.04.2017

Kunstgewerbemuseum, National Museum in Berlin
Credits: Story

Text: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Katrin Lindemann

Concept: Katrin Lindemann und Merle Walter

Editing / Realisation: Merle Walter

Translation:Übersetzungsbüro Nastula

© Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz www.smb.museum

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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