Ellen Allien is the Queen of Techno. In addition to her international profile as a top dj, she is also know for her captaincy of her Bpitch Control record label that is as closely associated with Berlin as the famous
Berliner Fernsehturm, that landmark bulbous tower, itself only a few minutes walk from Bpitch’s HQ.
So, it’s not exactly an expected course of action that she would turn her hand to producing a niche clothing collection, certainly not one that is a collaboration with Markus Stich.
Ken Pratt managed to track Ellen Allien down and pose a few questions on their rather intriguing fashion collaboration.
KP: I suppose the most obvious question is how did it all start; how did the two of youend up working together on a fashion line? It’s certainly not something that most people would expect of a techno dj and musician and a designer working in some of the top Paris maisons.
EA: For years and years I´ve been thinking about merchandising and graphic design. At some point I realized that the merchandising items we produced for the label (BPitch Control) didn´t have the right cuts, and I couldn´t find the right clothes for me to wear in the club, after which I would be anyway too tired to go and look for them. Markus Stich is a friend of mine, so I asked him if he would help me with the realization of the collection, if he knew people in Berlin who could produce the pieces I design. And like this we got started. I draw the designs; Asha, another friend of mine, sends us samples from the Paris fairs, unless we don´t go there ourselves… Markus looks for men´s stuff, I watch out for the materials for ellen allien fashion. That is our working pattern, from the design to the cut to the production …. Before we also used to have a woman who would help us during the cutting process.
Markus lives in Berlin; he studied here and has been working here for 10 years… quite a long time.
The ideas for the collections come through my lifestyle. They are all clothes to be worn while traveling, as well as in a club… to be just thrown in your suitcase…ironing is forbidden.
KP: Could you tell us something about the working process? There must be obvious difficulties, for example, Ellen’s busy schedule of gigs and managing a record label. But what about the creative process itself? How is a collection negotiated?
EA: I start a collection when I have the time and inspiration for it. In winter 2010 ellen allien fashion will bring out only some shirts, as I have been concentrating on my new album ‘Dust’, which will be released in May 2010 and which is took -and is still taking- all my inspiration.
The summer collection carries the title ‘NIGHTFLOWERS’, which I’ve tried to soak with the feelings of people like me. The collection is based on black and white, with black floral lace, black and white stitched cotton, delicate dark summer wool and hazy prints of dancing people on loose cut T-shirts. The shirt graphics are made out of photographs showing the crowd taken at last summer’s ‘MELT’ festival while I was playing there. I made bermudas, jumpers, jackets….all items that are club-compatible, and at least 1 computer must fit in the bags. Women must be able to move comfortably and feel free. There are also 2 t-shirts for men, always oversize shirts.
Music, fashion, djing, producing music, everything forms a big oneness, all-together is my allien life, which I love and in which I can live out my creativity. Since childhood my hands and my spirit needed to stay creative. On my actual single ‘PUMP’ I used a T-shirt graphic for the cover.
KP: The line is very strongly associated with Berlin, being produced there, for example. And even though we now see certain possibilities for fashion in Berlin that weren’t even imaginable ten years ago, it still remains somewhat off the beaten track for fashion. How have other more traditional centres –like Milan or Paris- responded to the brand?
EA: Ellen Allien Fashion doesn´t follow the commercial logics and rhythm. I manage it as a hobby. What will come from it, we will see. It´s a part of Berlin…the people’s vibe is inside of it. I spin around the fashion-music axis and it finally turns out that both universes belong together. And it is just like a silent Allien call to the world “do it by yourself”! I just love to wear the pieces myself. It´s exactly what I like from it. But of course I also want to contribute to fashion in Berlin, especially now in crisis times, when many small shops are forced to close down. Even if finally others open up, everything is in constant move here, that is thanks to creativity that is the good part of it.
KP: Along a similar tack, because you’re operating outside of the usual centres of fashion – though obviously there are strong connections to Paris- do you deploy any particular strategies to make sure it’s noticed?
EA: I actually don`t use any particular strategy in order to make sure that people notice my stuff, I basically just do that through my music….
KP: I wonder where you see Ellen Allien in the bigger fashion picture. It’s most certainly not a ‘streetwear’ brand or a collection that would necessary be something that we associate with club gear. Who do you see as its customer or audience?
EA: Modern girls and women who also like music. The label is not straightened into a commercial direction. I like to keep it easy with that. That way there is not so much stress about it and you are still able to enjoy it.
KP: Where does the inspiration come from for the collections? Some of it seems to relate directly to Berlin, but not only….Want to say something about what inspires you and where you look for inspiration?
EA: The main inspiration source changes for every collection: for the ellen allien fashion spring sumer 2007 collection I had bones in my mind. I used to do lots of yoga during that period and lived extremely healthy. I felt a great force in my body especially in my bones. You really could see that. The ellen allien fashion spring/summer 2009 collection named, ‘Quartett’ was more about the game of life and my current collection is about the crowd, the dancers, the people who enjoy the hours when the sun goes down or rises again after endless dancing nights. I figure these people as the ‘nightflowers’…
KP: What should we know about the current collection and where can we get our hands on it?
EA: ‘nightflowers is frisch , jeden tag tragbar auch nachts…und es eine widmung an alle partyleute …’ (The ‘Nightflowers’ collection is fresh, wearable throughout day and night and most important: it is a dedication to all the party people out there. You can get it on my website