Many of Berlin’s trendiest people can be found sitting in Mein Haus Am See, a coffee shop slash bar slash venue in Prenzlauer Berg, the home of Berlin Fashion Week. Lena Quist is bound to stand out in any crowd, even in Mein Haus Am See. She has bold blue hair and wears bright red lipstick. She walks with a signature flare – thanks to her black, sky high platforms.
Even at the age of fourteen, Lena Quist knew she stood out.
"Everyone was looking the same, shopping at the same places and I’ve always had a bit of an over the top look and I couldn’t find what I wanted in the shops."
The smalltown girl with big city dreams taught herself how to sew on her mother’s sewing machine. The first designs were daydream garments from her sketchbooks.
"It took me about two years and then I realized, 'yes, I want to actually do this. I want to work in fashion.' From that point I just made up my mind and went for it."
Quist vowed to move to Berlin to see her projects on the runway.
Now she has successful fashion shows and a best designer nomination under her belt. Her designs have been seen on the runway in Copenhagen, London, Los Angeles, and, of course, Berlin.
This city – steeped in the modern and the traditional - seems to fuel Quist’s creativity, but she finds herself drawn to the quieter and more thoughtful parts of town
"I really like to go to church, especially the Catholic churches and look at the art, look at the interior. I like to walk at cemeteries to find my inspiration. It’s so calm and quiet even though it’s in the middle of the city."
Quist takes pieces from the rough beauty of Berlin to create works that reflect outer space, heavy metal, and the future. Shimmering catsuits decorated with chains, dresses with angular shoulders, and bodysuits with lightning bolts reminiscent of David Bowie's Aladdin Sane.
"I want high quality fabrics and shiny stuff sort of speaks to me. It’s the little girl. She will never grow up: one of the best things about working in fashion."
Quist says her particular take on contemporary fashion comes not from looking to the works of others not from consulting the threads of others but simply from looking within her own closet.
"Mostly I am actually inspired by my own wardrobe. Actually. But I do like everyone who is over the top and doing their own thing. That’s admirable."
Lena Quist proves that even in Berlin’s monochromatic fashion scene, it is okay to exchange the grunge for a little bit of glitter.