A true tele-visionary

INTERVIEW: Laos-born, Berlin-based fashion designer Hien Le's minimalist cuts have landed him in the Purists brat-pack. His next vision is Miami Vice storming the runways.

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Photo by Thuy Pham

Hien Le is an example of why children should be encouraged to watch as much television as possible. “I grew up watching shows on MTV, and that was one of my first influences. I remember being introduced to fashion through a documentary about Karl Lagerfeld.”

The Laos-born, Berlin-raised designer has since become one of the city’s most celebrated young talents. Lagerfeld’s influence may be hard to read today in Le’s own work, which is characterized by its precise minimalist cuts. For this reason he is often grouped with the burgeoning collective of young Berlin designers dubbed “the Purists”, but Le prefers to stand alone: “It is of course flattering to be compared to Berlin designers I admire, like Perret Schaad or Michael Sonntag, but I think we are all doing our own thing.”

Le studied tailoring after finishing high school and went on to study fashion design at Berlin’s HTW before working in fashion PR at Agency V, “which was a good way to learn about all aspects of the industry.” He showed his first collection as part of Mercedes Benz Berlin Fashion Week Spring Summer 2011 and later won the coveted “Start Your Fashion Business” award funded in part by the Berlin Senate, which provides one hand-picked promising young designer with financial support. The modest designer explains that this gave him the confidence to grow as a label: “My collections continue to develop each season and I branched out into men’s wear, which felt like a natural progression.”

His current Autumn Winter collection mixes strong lines with rich colours: a floor-length royal blue skirt, a lapel-less camel coat, pale coral men’s shirts and a slim-cut pumpkin-coloured men’s blazer are highlights. For a label that is so sophisticated, it is interesting to know that Le still derives inspiration from what he watches on television. “My next summer collection was inspired by Miami Vice. I immersed myself in the film and the music and that’s where I got the idea for the bright colours and white tailored items.” Available in Berlin at Departmentstore Quartier 206,, Voo