This week Nicely Made in China stays in Beijing to introduce Kathrin von Rechenberg, owner and designer of “rechenberg » the fashion house. The 40 year-old Bavarian and mother of three has taken a winding path from her “début” at the Paris fashion house Jacques Fath in the 90’s to her arrival in Beijing, via Taiwan, in 2000. We sat in her Beijing studio to discuss Paris fashion houses, material and lost traditions.
Kathrin, what path has led you to your Xin Yuan Xi Li workshop where are now sitting?
When I was 15, I decided I wanted to work in fashion. Actually, I think I am more a sculptor like my father, than a fashion designer. In order to learn the trade I went to France which was the only country where clothes were made directly on a mannequin. In Germany you always started by designing on paper. So I first went to Marseilles to learn French and then got a job in Paris at Jacques Fath where I stayed for a year and a half. After that, I also worked at Chanel, Dior and Lacroix.
Later I heard of and was captivated by teasilk -traditionally made in the Pearl river delta – and decided to go to Taiwan to learn more about it. I arrived in Beijing in 2000 and had my first show in 2003 during SARS – complete with health masks for everyone- and opened this workshop in 2006.
How would you define your style?
Very early on my father taught me to see abstracts, figures and shapes in nature. A lot of my inspiration comes from nature as well as architecture. I design in such a way that the geometrical shapes are evident when the clothes are not being worn, but become something different when actually worn. I like my clothes to underline a woman’s personality, not change her identity. My clients like the fact that they can combine something from two years ago with something bought this year.
What is the creative process behind a collection?
Usually a collection is born out of its predecessor. It almost always begins with a yearning for some kind of material, and sometimes, I can also start from details in a fabric or I am inspired by its texture, the grain or the way it drapes.
What type of material do you like to use?
I favor natural products: teasilk which has become a signature in my collections, also “boiled” wool from Tyrol in the Alps, and other knits such as fine jersey which has naturally stretchy qualities. These are all very comfortable to wear. I also like working with double-sided and reversible fabrics.
How long does it take to have something custom-made?
It takes about 2 weeks with one or two fittings, and up to 5 weeks for a wedding dress. I use traditional haute-couture techniques and all our clothes at that stage are basted so we can change things up to the last minute. That allow us to ensure it fits perfectly.
Where can NMiC readers find your creations?
Of course here at my Beijing workshop. Also at The Orchard in Beijing and at a new boutique called Thaiv in Central Park, Building 1, located in Beijing’s fashionable Central Business District.
Studio address: Xinyuan Xili Dongjie Yard behind building no. 12 (Close to Yu Yang hotel).
Tel:+86 10 64631788 (studio) /