5 questions au duo Ottolinger sur sa collection printemps-été 2021

Fashion Week

À l'occasion de sa première Fashion Week digitale, le duo Ottolinger emmène dans un monde aux frontières du réel et du virtuel où les modèles deviennent des super-héroïnes vêtues de leur collection printemps-été 2021. Pour Numéro, les deux fondatrices du label reviennent sur ce projet inédit. 

Ottolinger collection printemps-été 2021. Photo : Urisna Gysi


To unveil its new collection, Ottolinger invited us into a semi-virtual world, a place where women would have superpowers. In a video directed by the photographer Reto Schmid, we witness the models' undergoing transformations: a girl’s face turns into that of an alien, another one’s ears become pointy and a third one grows dragonfly wings in her back, while their outfits completely change as if they were going through the character generator of a video-game. For this collection, Cosmia Gadient and Christa Bösch continue to showcase their talent and taste for experimentation, asymmetry and deconstruction: as in many Ottolinger collections, thread and ropes build the structure of the pieces, strategically placed slits create undulations, gathers give the tops volume whereas here, numerous thinnish mesh create an effect of transparency or scattered-spots ginghams. The colours are light: pale yellow, ecru, lilac, different shades of pink and white illuminate a rather summery collection, occasionally darkened by blacks and navy blues. Fire is sometimes printed on the pieces, sometimes burning the edges of the clothes and together with thunder, makes up the setting of the video. The two founders of the Berlin-born label talked with Numéro about creating this new collection in an uncanny context. 


2020 has a very rough year for everyone so far. How was it to create and produce a collection in these very particular times?

Cosima Gadient : Even though the climate is heavy, being a bit isolated and having to focus on what we really wanted to do and to slow it down a little bit has been good for us. We had more time, because we were less traveling and it led us to go back to the essence of our label, now and in the future because times have already changed. We were also lucky that our production was not affected : we produce a lot of our stuff in Greece, and the factory was able to keep running as they were also sewing masks, but the other places we work with in Turkey and Bulgaria somehow could continue.


Christa Bösch : We work on a small chain, which has been really helpful for us.

Ottolinger collection printemps-été 2021

For this collection, it seems like you stick to your signature design principles while infusing the clothes with a lighter and more luminous spirit. Can you talk a bit about the materials, techniques you used and how they came close with your concept – the superpower?

CG : We mostly divide our work into groups according to the materials : there is the lace group, the muslin, the more artisanal group,… Some of these materials have been really hard work, so each characteristic would have a story around it. That is when we came up with the idea of superpowers, that each garment can help you feel stronger and have more flamboyant or dreamy aspect. There was also a lot of experimentation with hand dying, with the jersey, or when we combined different wools for knits. We liked this idea of having a range of garments that have specific assets. When we had the models and friends come to the studio, they could transform into that.


CB : Clothes definitely have this power of transformation, even more important when the times are especially hard, like right now.



“Digital fashion week seems like a natural progress to us.”



With lockdown and then the first digital fashion week, we have seen many virtual initiatives from designers. What is your outlook on that? Are you confortable with that medium?
CG : As a young brand, it feels like we can tell and show a bit more with the same effort and without having to go through the runway experience, which costs a lot. Digital projects do also need a lot of preparation, but on the other hand, virtual communication is something we do already and we feel very comfortable with, like on our Instagram. All of it has been growing, so now digital fashion week seems like a natural progress to us.


CB : This shift has been really interesting, because it is opening new options. It is also great to see how anyone can be directly in touch with our products, and not a professional audience only. What we also wondered though is how to create emotions without a show happening and without seeing people. Now, in front of your screen, you are going through collections one after the other and it’s really cold. It is not the same as a physical experience.

Ottolinger collection printemps-été 2021. Photo : Urisna Gysi

Ottolinger collection printemps-été 2021. Photo : Urisna Gysi

As a first attempt to answer that, you released your latest collection through a film directed by Reto Schmid with special effects created by Actualobjects. What was the idea behind that?

CG : The main idea was to bring a supernatural vibe to something very normal. We were inspired by computer games, when the player have to pick the outfits for their characters. In the film, we see eight models all by themselves, filmed in urban places that look like every city. Each model standing there will either show her superpowers or her clothes will change.


CB : There is a playful aspect to that superpower idea. Also, the special effects of the video remind us of the aesthetics we all know from social media and Instagram filters. So we wanted to meet that with the story of the collection.



“The main idea of our film was to bring a supernatural vibe to something very normal.”



You have created Ottolinger 5 years ago. Retrospectively, how do you see your career and your progression over these past years?

CG : The biggest challenge we faced when we started was to make the super crafty aspect of our pieces into actual garments and accessories you can wear, that make you feel good. Today, I feel like we got much better at that, as we see so many people feeling confident wearing our creations. When we started, we did a bunch of crazy things which were good for our brand’s vision, but coming onto the garment they were actually hard to pull off. Now, we are working on the fact that everyone can wear our clothes. It of course had to do with production, because we had to find places where we were able to burn clothes, to dip things in rubber… It took us time but right now, we have found our reliable collaborators and our balance!