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Ottolinger SS17 campaign
Ottolinger SS17 campaignPhotography Lukas Wassmann, styling Marc Goehring

Bringing the spirit of Berlin to the Swiss countryside

After their SS17 show in NY, the designers behind Berlin-based label Ottolinger discuss their latest imagery

The Swiss countryside is a lot of things – beautiful, quaint, serene – however it is decidedly not fashion forward. Well, until now. Swiss design duo Ottolinger (made up of Christa Bösch and Cosima Gadient) reside in Berlin but decided to shoot their SS17 campaign, shot by Lukas Wassmann and styled by Marc Goehring, in their native country, juxtaposing cutting-edge design with sleepy surroundings. The rural, sparsely populated vistas provided the perfectly placid backdrop for the abstract and high-shine looks of their newest collection. Turns out some things look even better when worn atop a tractor… We spoke to the designers about their vision for the brand, how living in Berlin inspires them, and showing at New York Fashion Week.

What’s the story behind the name Ottolinger?

Ottolinger: It was the name on the doorbell of our first studio. To receive packages we had to use Ottolinger as the recipient. After a while we just got really into the name and started calling ourselves Ottolinger. It was a pragmatic choice.

You’re currently based in Berlin – how does the city inspire you? Do you see yourselves relocating any time soon?

Ottolinger: We’re not thinking about relocating – it’s perfect for now. We decided to move here because we have so many friends here and they are also our main inspiration. Berlin gives us a lot of freedom and we can focus our work here.

Why did you return to NYC this season? 

Ottolinger: MADE asked us to be part of their program, which generously gave us a chance to have our own show in New York. Without them it would not have been possible for us to show our third season in New York. And we love New York.

Could you break down some of the references behind the collection?

Ottolinger: It’s mainly things that we would wear ourselves but we would also manipulate the fabrics to play with the word ‘couture’. We handcrafted a lot of things and also made things to be rough but still chic and kind of sexy.

How does that tie into your overarching vision for the brand?

Ottolinger: We want to create our own world with every collection but of course these worlds or collections are somehow connected. We go from collection to collection and love to create something new. We look at things in terms of ‘Would we wear this?’ We have fittings and basically ‘test’ our own clothes. Over time what we love to wear evolves and with it also does our design process.

“It’s mainly things that we would wear ourselves but we would also manipulate the fabrics to play with the word ‘couture’” – Ottolinger

You have several PVC pieces and tied-up materials in your collection. Was S&M a source of inspiration?

Ottolinger: No, we didn’t really conceptualise why would use specific fabrics and textures. Rather we would think about how certain fabrics complemented others in the collection. It was more like trying to build a collage. We like to have ‘misfit’ pieces, when a material is almost right but then doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the collection. That’s why used the PVC.

Your campaign was shot in the Swiss countryside. Why did you decide to use this backdrop? 

Ottolinger: The campaign was shot at Christa’s parent’s place, that’s where she grew up. We chose it because we both like this idea of how this woman in this get-up and fabrics doesn’t really fit in, which ties into our love for the ‘misfit’ subject. It’s also honestly just really beautiful there – the Swiss Alps. Much as it can be considered corny or tacky, we’re really attached to this background.

How did working with Marc Goehring come about?

Ottolinger: We met in Berlin through friends and he would wear our clothes, then one thing led to another and we decided to work together on the editorial. It actually wasn’t the first thing we did together so working together just came really naturally to us. He made people feel really comfortable on set and he just has a really great eye in terms of fabrics and colours. Also him and our photographer have a great vibe together so we would just leave them alone at times. He would challenge us to look at things from another perspective, which helped us get a variety of looks during the shoot.  

How do you complement each other during the design process? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Ottolinger: Our work is a constant dialogue. There are no rules – one of us starts with something and the other person finishes it. We’re really attached to the materials so we try to do a lot of drapings and work in 3D. We’re constantly having a conversation and challenging each other.