An interview with label head Malaika Raiss.
There is quite a contrast between Malaika Raiss’ white, airy atelier and the graffiti-ridden streets of Friedrichshain outside. The soft-spoken designer, who at the age of 27 is already at the helm of her own eponymous label, enjoys living in a city that “is less conservative than others in Germany and therefore a great source of inspiration.” Raiss moved to the capital after finishing her fashion degree in Mannheim and interned with several Berlin designers, including the city’s reigning queen of ready-to-wear women’s clothing, Leyla Piedayesh of Lala Berlin.
“I learned more working for Lala than I did throughout my whole time at university,” she says. The experience gave her the confidence she needed to start her own label. “Getting financial support is the hardest thing for a young designer. It was tough at the beginning; this place was empty and I was doing all my sketches on the floor!” Now only a couple of years later and with four shows already behind her, Raiss has succeeded where many have failed in a city where state support for fashion designers is limited.
The label’s growing success, both in Berlin and abroad, can be attributed to the fact that her women’s wear is both contemporary and wearable. Current designs are in tune with the trend of sheer knits and transparent blouses, but in a way that will translate well off the runway. “I like to think that my brand is ageless. I know that sheer items will be of interest to younger women, but I also know that women who are a bit older may not want to show their arms, for example,” she says, holding up an olive green silk dress with long sleeves.
Raiss doesn’t shy away from colour. Her Spring/Summer collection for 2013 is awash with bold powder blues and emerald greens, aqueous hues befitting a collection named after the David Hockney painting “A Bigger Splash”. Raiss has already grabbed the attention of the fashion press and the all-important buyers, who recognise a label that will sell well. The promising young designer may well soon challenge Lala Berlin for the throne