His face pops up all over Berlin and the fashion mags have termed him as a rising star. But his fame isn’t due to Berlin languor. Expecting a weekend rendezvous exception, GabrielDesigns met up with fashion designer Michael Sontag on a sunny Saturday morning to find him in a t-shirt busily working away in his GreifswalderStraße atelier. As his socially smiling face fades quick into a hard look of pin-pointed concentration, you realize that this is an artist who puts much time and thought into each kill shot.
And that has served him extremely well; Internships at Kenzo and Givenchy in Paris gave Michael a solid foundation to start his own label after graduating with distinctions from the Weissensee College of Design. Since then, Michael has been the winner of the 2009 Textil Innovationspreis Award and the 2010 Start your Fashion Business Prize even while being a finalist for the 2009 Designer for Tomorrow Award and the 2010 Mango Fashion Awards. His debut collection at the 2009 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin was praised as “the best” by The New York Times.
These days, Michael is gearing up for the upcoming Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin in July 2012 and even running off to Ancona to discuss shoe design with the traditional masters of Italy. The green sewing machine hums away and cut lines are being worked out in the atelier but the minuscule details of the day to day doesn’t inhibit this designer from scheming up grand plans for the next decade of Michael Sontag.
See INTERVIEW BELOW for details.
+ Hi Michael, I recently read that you have visited all the continents in the world. If so, why Berlin as your place of practice?
- Michael | Berlin is perfect in its composition. It has everything you want of a big city, but is quite relaxed at the same time. I find that very inspiring.
+ Ten years being based here and three holding your own label, how has your work evolved?
- Michael | I think I’m more aware of what it means to be a fashion designer. Im much more concentrated and focused, also designwise…
+ Was there anything daunting, any kind of hesitation, about starting your own fashion label?
- Michael | Absolutely. I never planed to do that.
+ How would you describe your brand name with five words?
- Michael | Clear, drape, cut, material, colour
+ You mentioned that you’re off to Ancona to speak with shoe designers to start your own designs. Do you see other expansions to your label in the near or distant future?
- Michael | It was really beautiful in Italy. I visited all the factories and workshops there to see how my shoe designs are made. I’m doing a cooperation with the german shoe company Görtz. I want to do more different design-collaborations in the future….
+ Based on your atmospheric look-books, most are shot in nature and hardly any in a photo studio as some prefer. Why so?
- Michael | Because I love nature and naturalness. That´s what I try to transport through my designs and as well with the staging of my look-books.
+ A lot of your contemporaries from school are based here in Berlin as well. With some, you hold a close friendship. But do you regard them as rivals/competition?
- Michael | They are my competitors. But I see them as my friends and I will help and support them whenever I can.
+ When facing design blocks, how do you get through the tough days when no inspiration seems to come?
- Michael | Eat, sleep, see friends….. Inspiration comes when I´m happy and relaxed.