With Reference Berlin the fashion scene got a new highlight that we have long been waiting for. While the regular Fashion Week is performing a dying swan dance for the last couple of seasons, it is independent events like this that give us life.
Reference Berlin has certainly decided to go a different path. That becomes obvious when you notice how little “actual fashion” was presented at what was dubbed a 24h festival for creativity. It was a bold statement in itself and also a refreshing effort to create something different that feels more in line with our current mindset during a time of so many changes in the industry.
Runway shows were nowhere to be seen, instead, we got to see art and design installations, performances, panel talks, and an interactive exhibition. Spread over several floors of an abandoned parking house the makers of the festival had a generous space to fill – I personally know how scary working with large venues can be when I remember our own 10th-anniversary event at Kraftwerk. Spiraling up the ramp of the car park and discovering each floor felt like just the right kind of adventure to be prepared for what was to come on the last floor: the main exhibition invited the visitors of the festival to fully immerse. You could, amongst other things, disfigure a clay sculpture, arrange lavish flower bouquets and enjoy avant-garde face filters (almost) in real life.
And what turned out to be possibly the most cherished activity during the festival was taking breaks from exploring to hang out at the graffiti-covered sundeck with a drink in hand, chatting with old friends and colleagues and observing the fashionable crowd. I felt truly inspired by this and hope for a next edition happening soon.
photos above: Manric Demesa
photos above: Sebastian Reuter (Getty)
photo: Magnus Petterson
photo: Lucas Ccaglar
photo: Maxime Ballesteros