If 2016 taught us anything it's that it helps to present a clear message and point of view whether you're talking about the world of politics or that of art and fashion. As fashion goes through its inevitable changes, it's worthwhile acknowledging that the brands/designers with a consistent yet quirky, often eye-popping aesthetic (think Gucci's Alessandro Michele) are of the moment RN. I recently had a chance to check in on two different design showrooms, for a little peek of what goes on behind the scenes in two foreign born emerging design companies now making their way in New York.
When I visited Martina Dietrich's MD Couture studio on the Lower East Side it was a somewhat gray day (unfortunately that's the norm in NYC this time of year) making the whiteness of the studio and the profusion of color greeting me at the top of the stairs, all the more pleasing. I had met Ms. Dietrich at an art gallery event and was intrigued by her bright orange tresses and interesting manner of putting herself together. Once I learned that she was a German fashion designer by way of Italy, Paris and now New York with a private clientele who seek out for her custom-made one-of-a-kind frocks and separates, I had to know more.
"No one comes to me for a black t-shirt," she joked. Indeed her neon orange hair is in direct correlation to what I think of as a "girls just want to have fun with an elevated sensibility" flair. Many of her designs feature neon orange piping along the edges enhancing and helping to identify this signature look. Her fabrics are all sourced from Italy and include many with stretch — various jerseys, knits, velvets, leathers (often combined together in unexpected patterns) and a few intricately patchwork custom fur pieces. "The material must speak to me — it tells me what to do," she explained. "If you don't listen to what the fabric wants to do, you will never get it right." I tell her that Project Runway's Tim Gunn agrees with her. How many times have we stalwart PR viewers (Season 15 just ended BTW) heard Gunn advise and acknowledge that the design challenges are either won or lost during Mood fabric selection?
Dietrich is also a proponent of '90's style layering — she showed me how she transforms her pieces by placing one of her long tulle skirts underneath to dress up the look or one of her specially designed "boas" (a unique technique involving a "car wash" or thickly fringed neck piece) to give it another dimension of playfulness. Since I was wearing my silver H&M jeans and Kruzin silver sneakers that day, I was immediately attracted to a pair of orange-piped ruffled-cuff silver arm warmers and a crushed velvet floral top which, of course, I had to have. The designer also showed off a beautiful periwinkle blue velvet fabric that she tempted me with, even draping it over me, just so. Her custom creations vary in price but average in the $700 and up range.
As a young girl, Dietrich cried when her seamstress mother made her a "regular skirt" — clearly she turned into a designer that enjoys creating the unusual and finds her inspiration everywhere. Martina's mission is to help create memorable experiences for her clients ultimately allowing them to steal the show at any occasions through her 100% custom-designed dresses.