Andrea Hartwig

Clothes that Communicate – Talkingmeanstrouble

SPRINGSUMMER 07 'DAWN'; Copyright: Talkingmeanstrouble, Foto: Anka Bardeleben
 
AUTUMNWINTER 0708 'BLACK RUBY'; Copyright: Talkingmeanstrouble, Foto: Anka Bardeleben
 
AUTUMNWINTER 0708 'BLACK RUBY'; Copyright: Talkingmeanstrouble, Foto: Anka Bardeleben
 
AUTUMNWINTER 0708 'BLACK RUBY'; Copyright: Talkingmeanstrouble, Foto: Anka Bardeleben
 
SPRINGSUMMER 08'WILD SIDE'; Copyright: Talkingmeanstrouble, Foto: Anka Bardeleben
 
SPRINGSUMMER 08'WILD SIDE'; Copyright: Talkingmeanstrouble, Foto: Anka Bardeleben
 
Andrea Hartwig is one of Germany's most prominent young fashion designers. She has already founded her second label together with her sister Bianca. It is called Talkingmeanstrouble - and everybody is talking about it because the collections are sophisticated and enigmatic, yet nonetheless very wearable.

"The so-called 'Black Ruby' in the British crown jewels is not actually a ruby at all". It was with these mysterious words that Talkingmeanstrouble presented its autumn and winter collection 07/08 Black Ruby. "The black ruby is a false one, a spinel, and not as valuable as many people believed," explains Andrea Hartwig. That fascinated her so much that she made it the starting point of a whole collection. The dark red colour is an important element. "Then I thought about the details and came upon the idea of sequins. They sparkle, but are not real," says the designer. And she did not have the sequins stitched on - that would probably have been too obvious. Instead, she had them printed as false sequins on trousers, scarves and tops.
Images and emotions
Black Ruby clearly shows how well thought out Andrea Hartwig's approach to her work is, while being open to interpretation. She is not interested in supplying a complete story with a collection. "Everyone can think up a story themselves. It's like a little puzzle. But there is no solution." She creates images and emotions, she says. What stories the clothes tell lie in the wearer's imagination. That is why the label is called Talkingmeanstrouble. Andrea Hartwig translates this as "Sprache ohne Worte" (language without words), explaining: "It is a matter of letting the collections speak for themselves." The label's logo is a black speech bubble without any writing.

Andrea Hartwig is just 28 years old and Talkingmeanstrouble - one could also say TMT, she says- is already her second label. She founded it in January 2005 together with her sister. Bianca Hartwig had just graduated in business administration at the time. "Our ideas fitted together very well. So it was clear that we wanted to do it together," says the 30-year-old. She is in charge of the business side, and Andrea of the creative side. A clear division of tasks, and a successful one too. Their garments are meanwhile sold in 15 shops around the world, with Japan being their most important market. TMT is available in eight stores in Tokyo alone, and they even have their own sales office there. They do not have an internet shop, however. "I cannot have the haptic experience of feeling and wearing a garment online," says Bianca.

For her first label, Andrea Hartwig joined forces with Sarah Elbo in summer 2002, immediately after graduating from the Esmod fashion school to set up Hartbo+L'wig - another of those difficult names. "We were two designers bursting with good ideas as a result of that interaction," she recalls. They put dots and stripes on pink, yellow and sky-blue petticoat dresses, were nominated for many prizes and received a lot of attention very quickly.
Black and white are basic colours
Hartbo+L'wig was very colourful, playful, and loud. "What we are doing now is really quite the opposite," says Andrea Hartwig. "We are trying to withdraw from the collection a bit and thereby to radiate tranquillity." In Talkingmeanstrouble, the young designer's style has grown up. The basic colours are still black and white, and there is always at least one other accent colour. In summer 2007, the colours used were the pastel shades of dawn in the Dawn collection: beige, grey-blue and soft turquoise. In Black Ruby, the colour used is dark red. And next summer, there will be a vibrant warm orange in Wild Side.

Andrea Hartwig uses exclusively natural materials such as cotton, silk and jersey from her favourite suppliers, from whom she has been buying for years. In planning the contours of a garment, she likes to work with the idea of waves. And she loves sophisticated details: elastic waistbands, ruffles, and a print on the back of a coat collar. "We do not make a basic collection, but a collection which, with its many details, goes in an artistic direction," she says.
Complex and enigmatic
In order to underline this, there is also a lavishly-produced lookbook every season which is much more than a small catalogue. It is part of the collection's concept. The model shows the garments first with a brown and then with a blonde wig. Is she nice? Or nasty? The window in the grey room is just painted. A set. This motif of trompe l'œils and optical illusions is to be found throughout TMT 's creations.

Talkingmeanstrouble is complex and enigmatic in many of its details. Yet its two creators, who were born in Berlin, are refreshingly uncomplicated. And you can approach their fashion, too, in two different ways. One aspect is its wearability - just slip it on and enjoy the soft flowing lines and the good fit. The other aspect is that TMT offers a complex visual language for those who wish to read and understand fashion.
SPRINGSUMMER 07 'DAWN'; Copyright: Talkingmeanstrouble, Foto: Anka Bardeleben

SPRINGSUMMER 07 'DAWN'; Copyright: Talkingmeanstrouble, Foto: Anka Bardeleben

SPRINGSUMMER 08'WILD SIDE'; Copyright: Talkingmeanstrouble, Foto: Anka Bardeleben

Andrea und Bianca Hartwig; Copyright: Talkingmeanstrouble, Foto: Anka Bardeleben

Stefanie Dörre
is an editor at the Berlin city magazine "tip".

Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Online-Redaktion

Any questions about this article? Please write to us!
online-redaktion@goethe.de
January 2008
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