THE HYBRID, BERENIK.
Interview and words Alexandra Stevens
Swiss label BERENIK made a striking New York Fashion Week debut this season, unveiling a staggering 90-look collection complete with scarves, gloves, leather bags and shoes. Consisting mostly of two-piece outfits in white, gold, black, and rich green, BERENIKS’s Fall/Winter collection feels like a detail-oriented hybrid of loungewear and business attire. We caught up with designer Veronika Brusa backstage to talk about what helped bring her big city debut to life.
“I was so annoyed by this print because I’ve seen it so many times!” Brusa said with a laugh, pointing at one of the many pieces that bore the collection’s signature abstract skyscraper print. Fascinated by architecture, Brusa recalls wandering around the city since moving here a year ago, snapping pictures of the countless towering buildings that make up the Manhattan skyline. One of her snapshots eventually became a centerpiece of her upcoming collection, blown up and printed onto cotton jersey and viscose.
“I was even so annoyed that I was thinking of not including [the print] in the campaign,” she admits. “You get too close to your own work; you work with those same pieces, or that idea or that vision, for half a year. At the end, it's really hard to see what you actually did.”
Brusa was eventually persuaded to keep the print in the collection, and its bold, graphic lines lend balance to oversized layers in fluffy faux fur and wool. Despite the obvious nod to New York City, Brusa said that saying the entire collection was inspired by New York is a bit too simple of an explanation.
“I’m inspired by the process, when I’m working with the fabrics, with the prints, or if I see a new machine or new possibilities,” she said. “Usually I have too many options and I have a hard time breaking it down, because you can’t fit everything in one collection.”
And for Brusa, what does make it into the collection has to be as close to perfect as possible. At one point, she became obsessed with the idea of putting green into the collection, struggling to make sure it was exactly the right depth and shade. When she found (what she thought was) the right color in a silk velour, a visit to the factory revealed that it wasn’t quite deep enough. Brusa printed touches of black over the fabric to add depth, as well as dying other fabrics to get the shade just right.
“I dyed a lot of stuff,” she said. “Actually, I dyed about five times to get the right color for this rib, and nobody would even talk about this rib.”
But as any designer knows, the process is crucial, and Brusa is the first to admit she’s come a long way since she revealed her first collection in 2010, under a different brand name that she won’t reveal.
“When I started, it was lots of prints and flowers, it was very romantic, very girly. At some point I just found out that’s actually not me at all. That’s why I won’t tell you my old brand’s name,” she explained. Brusa initially studied graphic design, and has gravitated back towards a more minimal approach in her recent fashion endeavors. She showed her first collection with the brand name BERENIK in Paris in 2011, eventually stocking in various parts of Europe, Asia, and America before opening up a store in Zürich. The BERENIK design studio moved from Paris to New York at the beginning of last year, and Brusa said she looks forward to staying in the city.
Images Courtesy of Dan Lecca