Reality Check

A Berlin-based label's explorations of fashion anthropology. By Erin Wylie
Svenja Specht, Berlin-based designer of Reality Studio, takes her job seriously—she views it as a form of cultural anthropology. "Clothes can indicate so much more than just a nice outside: your attitude to life and to your body, your taste and your relation to the time you are living in." So, what would her spring '08 collection say about our current zeitgeist? Based on a recent trip to Morocco, the collection taps into the wanderlust that has seeped into today's culture—particularly fashion.
Specht launched Reality Studio in January 2005, and ever since she's been distorting both sharply tailored and amorphous avant-garde garments through an explorer's lens. Exoticism is an evergreen theme for the label and can be seen in the clothes, as well as the accessories, which Specht lovingly calls "an eccentric part of the family." Sprinkled in every collection is a smattering of smart menswear: This season we're blessed with '40s-inspired tuxedo jackets and trim trousers that allude to early YSL (who also happened to be enamored with exotic cultures and fashions).
"For me, Morocco is the country of contrasts," says Specht. "Poor/rich, hot/cold, modernity/tradition. I was very inspired by the colors, the crafts, and the details of the traditional clothing." The influence is played straight into pieces like fringed scarves, cropped harem pants, and sheer layered tops that evoke Salomé (and consequently tap into one of spring's momentous trends). But there are some twists, Specht admits, "I was playing with cultural symbols like the veil—I transformed it into fringed 'face curtains' (secured like a headband)—and played with dip-dying." She's clearly riffing on tradition in the cut-off drop-crotch 'Aladdin' trousers (very 'Honey I Shrunk the Genie'), a PVC hooded cape, and laser-cut mosaic leather bib necklaces—whose patterns are lifted from Moorish tiles.
Like a true documentarian, Specht is determined to record and interpret the day's trends through fabric. Clearly she lives by the credo of one of her favorite quotes courtesy of Grace Jones: "Sitting still is like being narrow minded…there's a whole world out there."
For more information, go to
A Berlin-based label's explorations of fashion anthropology.

More from Fashion

R29 Original Series