It certainly could be claimed that fashion and lifestyle are inseparable entities. In our contemporary sphere, everyday life and its composition serve as one of the most relevant inspirational sources for creatives in different fields of action.
Viviane Hausstein is someone who has recognized and capitalized on this pairing. Her eponymous bag label embodies Viviane’s personal interpretation and logical continuation of the ‘classic’ gym bag – effortless, practical and elegant. After having completed her studies in fashion, she worked as an intern for Vivienne Westwood and Lala Berlin, where she was hired as a design assistant. Additionally, this charming blonde applies her practical knowledge and strong sense of trends as a stylist within the advertising and editorial landscape.
Viviane is organized – her cosy flat in Kreuzberg seems far removed from fabric remnants and samples. This might also be due to the fact that this Berliner is not a mere creative, but mother to a young son as well. When Viviane is not working on a new project or creating bags from horse fur and bondage robes, she spends her time on playgrounds or sports fields – where she has, curiously enough, discovered a growing tendency. She satisfies her desire to spend as much time as possible outside, leading a more conscious and active life. This serves as one of the most important sources of inspiration for Viviane.
We talked with Viviane about local and international fashion trends, Berlin as a hometown and body consciousness. Alongside good friend and photographer Christoph Schemel, she showed us her favorite urban places that have influenced her editorial styling for the studio Volume.
Tell us about your career and how you ended up with an accessory label.
After my fashion design studies at Lette Verein, I did an internship at Vivienne Westwood in London and Lala Berlin. There, I was taken on as a design assistant. These roles gave me great experience. However, I still wanted to try out other things. Together with a befriended photographer, a writer and an event manager, we founded this girl gang. Under the name ‘TheGardenBerlin,’ we organized concerts and events. For the third birthday of No74 we wanted to add another item. As all of us were often on the move with our racing bikes, we thought about creating a product we all needed: a backpack. The first drafts were mesh bags.
I developed this idea further and thought about the biggest possible contrast to this design. Today, you’ll see my bags made out of leather, cow or horse fur and bondage robes used as straps. Everything is produced exclusively in Berlin.
Why did you decide to concentrate on bags and accessories, and decide against integrating any clothing within your collection?
It is difficult to build up a label in Berlin. For one, a whole collection requires reliable and strong financial backing. Secondly, Berlin has so many designers already. Once you have decided on doing it, you have to focus on your work 300%. Additionally, I much prefer the variation between accessory design and styling. It is also a bit easier when being a mother.
When did you start with styling?
It happened in parallel, around two years ago. It just occurred.
There are many people who work as stylists but never learn the craftsmanship of tailoring. Would you say that your education has been beneficial to you in your job?
Yes. You perceive clothing very differently with a design background. Also, a particular quality requirement develops. Design works a lot with proportions, reconstructions and collaging – styling has a very similar approach. The pace is the only thing that is very different. The styling process can’t compare to the procedure of creating a collection.
What formats have you worked with so far?
I like to do style for editorials – the latest ones include Sleek and Tissue. But I also do a lot of styling for advertising productions. I do this primarily so I can learn from people in advertising. I want to retain these jobs as the target audience is very different and makes my work more varied.
Who are your favorite national designers?
At the moment there are a few people who I am quite fond of. This admiration is mainly based on their development and particular tendency. For instance Ayzit Bostan, I really appreciate this new german flair. The brand reflects this ‘correct’ new line, which is very cool while being objective. I also really like Nhu Dong. I am fascinated by her interaction with materiality.
An inevitable question: who are your international favorites?
There are many. But to make the list as short as possible: Alexander Wang for Wang and Balenciaga, Jacquemus from Paris and KTZ from London.
As a Berliner, how have you perceived the evolution of fashion in recent years. Also, how would you define the contemporary flux of this city?
I personally like it tidy and not so wild. It is difficult to define Berlin’s style. There are the wild kids, who party hard. Then, you have the complete opposite like Nhu Dong, whose inspiration comes from 90s American lifestyle. Then there are brands like Lala Berlin – one of the few who are unique, don’t rely on their success and produce high-end products. In general, there are too many movements for a city to be defined by just one particular style.
What is the reason for such diversity?
People are extremely open and, in comparison to Paris, people get into hype quickly. But often just as it is born, it is quickly forgotten. I think Berlin will continue to be a very mixed city. More and more, people from all sorts of corners come here and bring along their impulses and process their impressions here.
Perhaps this could be defined as Berlin’s flux?
Yes, I really like it when the style of a person expresses internationality. There are certain people you can recognize who have lots of friends in foreign countries, love to travel and go out to eat like crazy. This disposition to take risks and have the courage to constantly try out new things makes up this style.
Speaking of internationality, why did you decide to stay here as a native Berliner?
I never consciously made the decision to stay in Berlin or move to a foreign country. I was born in Köpenick am See, went to school, constructed my life in Berlin and had a child. Now and again I am gone of course, but I am very Berlin-based. It is so comfortable here and you can connect to other cities at the same time.
I think it is so funny that there are so many articles currently going around discussing ‘the death of Berlin.’ What do you think about that? Was there ever a hype about the city? And if so, is it really gone?
Every hype has an ‘anti-movement,’ and it is obvious that there must be a ‘down-fall’ after such colossal hype. People have started to hate the infamous club Berghain now, even though they have been running down its doors for the past five years. In a way, it is so ridiculous. I think it’s good that Berlin is not being hyped that much anymore. It got to be quite annoying.
Are there any places that have shaped you since childhood? Or places that you go to for relaxation?
For one, my parents’ place at Müggelsee. Then I have a second favorite place. It might sound weird, but I really like the cemetery in Neukölln. Past the soldiers’ tombs there are two massive magnolia trees. Every year, when they blossom, I sit on a bench between them and look at the graves. It has become a little tradition of mine.
Today we are accompanying you to some places that have served as inspiration for an editorial shoot looking at the “new german” tendency, architecture and sports. Sportiness is a big topic currently. Why do you think it is so present these days?
Instead of self-destruction and ‘wasted chic,’ health and body have become a trend. That lies mainly in the meritocracy of our society in addition to the digital age. You can often forget about being a physical entity because of your continuous online identity. Rock ’n’ Roll is over. I like to go out, but I am currently enjoying this trend. Everything revolves around the body. It is the best thing that could have happened to us.
Viviane and Christoph thank you so much for your time. To find out more about Viviane’s work visit her website here.
Photography: Christoph Schemel
Interview & Text: Zsuzsanna Toth