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Christine Birkle

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Christine Birkle, the owner of fashion label “Hut up” founded in Berlin, has caught the attention of such fashion luminaries as Dries van Noten and Matheo Thun.   She is a felter extraordinaire, renowned around the world for her creations, which are completely hand crafted with traditional felting and blocking methods.  She uses a technique known as nuno felting, which incorporates a base fabric and is shaped and decorated through felting only selected areas.  Beginning with minimally seamed garments in silk, linen, or cotton she uses felting in place of darts, tucks and shaped seams, to give the garment shape, form and dimension.  Her clothing has an organic appearance in their shaping and contours, creating soft, sophisticated pieces with richly detailed and understated textures.  There are no consistent thicknesses, no straight corners, and everything is organic.  Birkle’s designs have the sophistication of Miuccia Prada, and the retro sensibility of Paul Poiret.

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“A day’s handwork in a dress, but five years preparation and development are preceded.” Nuno is the Japanese word for cloth, and nuno felting refers to the technique of felting through an existing fabric base, a type of felting made popular in the early 1990’s, through attempts to create sheer, lightweight felt.  The process of felt making is tedious by its very nature, requiring an enormous amount of labor.

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Pulling fiber, wetting it, soaping it up and what is called ‘walking’ it, until the fibers matt and integrate themselves through the base fabric as well as to one another, a process that can take hours. Despite the laborious nature of the work, felt needs very careful monitoring during the process of shrinking, to ensure an even texture as well as the right size and shape.

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Birkle manages this labor-intensive craft to bring to life organic, crafted yet fashionable, unique pieces of clothing, capturing a wonderful artisanal quality.  She is the rare combination of an artist, a crafter and a successful fashion designer.  Chrisitne Birkle has gone on to pioneer this type of felting. “The ingredients are extra fine merino wool, water and power”

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It wasn’t until Birkle was a fashion and product design student in Berlin that she discovered felt.  With her first job in the theatre, creating the costumes for Yevgeny Schwarz’s theatre piece, “The Dragon,” she went on to create fantastical, sculptural hats, expanding into clothing and fashion accessories.  She has shown her collections in Paris, Milan, and London.  Not content with fashionable clothing, Birkle also produces children’s wear, pieces for the home, the table, stuffed animals, the office and weddings!  Her sketchbook is brimming with ideas.  Opening her first store in Berlin, Christine now has a studio above the shop. “Felt is very flexible. You can produce any form with it. It can keep you cool as well as warm, and it’s substantial, soft, and decorative. The old stereotype of a crude material no longer makes sense today.”

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Birkle exhibits and sells around the world, selling to Barney’s and Bendel’s in New York, Takashimaya in Japan, as well as in Paris and Milan.

Website: www.hutup.de

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