Some 30 designers sent out their fall/winter 2010 collections down the runway during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin, raising the city’s fashion profile once more.

The general mood in the fashion tent at Bebelplatz was optimistic and upbeat. About 23,000 guests visited Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, Jan. 20-23, compared to July 2009’s 22,000 visitors. “Our designers were quite enthusiastic about this season. Despite Milan and Paris fashion week taking place the same time, the media feedback was huge. The parallel events at other locations clarify the attraction of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin and attest that Berlin was the right decision for a German fashion week,” said Maia Guarnaccia, Vice President IMG Fashion, Europe. “Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, with its international reach, will establish [itself on] the fashion calendar,” insisted Tanja Mühlhans from the Berlin Senate.

At the same time, the schedule, dominated by a selection of promising young designers including Sam Frenzel, Michael Sontag, Frida Weyer, Arrondissement Aq1, Marcel Ostertag and Perret Schaad, felt thin, with big names missing. “A stronger mix of established and newcomer labels would be ideal. Well-known German designers such as Bernhard Wilhelm, Wolfgang Joop and Lutz Hülle would help to further position Berlin as a fashion capital,“ Ulrike Moeslinger, head of marketing and part of Galeries Lafayette’s executive board, said.

Meanwhile, Strenesse, Schumacher and Custo Barcelona once again took the stage at Bebelplatz, as Joop! and Boss Black opted to showcase collections at Neue Nationalgalerie and Hamburger Bahnhof, where Hugo Boss drew a cast of international celebrities, including Hillary Swank, Matt Dillon, Aaron Eckhart and model/actress Devon Aoki.

The general trend was for offsite presentations and add-on runways outside the official calendar. Italy’s Diesel proudly presented its first show in Europe in years at Treptow Arena. “The Italians consider Berlin as a hot spot and are excited to present again in Europe after a long time, in addition to New York. With our booth at BBB in combination with our own show we’ve had an impressive presence at Berlin fashion week. I can imagine having a show in the summer again,” said Christina Kässhöfer from Diesel Germany.

Another debut was the HBC Designers Scout presentation at Alexanderplatz, which presented nine upcoming designers in Berlin, headed by Starstyling and Julia and Ben. One of the most anticipated presentations was by designer Michael Michalsky, who launched his own fashion event called Michalsky Style Nite at Friedrichstadtpalast, featuring two more live acts by Lala Berlin and Kaviar Gauche. “Style Nite was an important experience for us. Futurewise, I’d like to have better runway models with charisma and more body awareness. I think we are on the right track and Berlin fashion week has a sunny future,” Lala Berlin’s Leyla Piedayesh said.

It remains to be seen how the next Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week will evolve. Previously held at Brandenburg Gate, then Postbahnhof and Bebelplatz since the summer of 2008, fashion week may have to move to another location next summer, following massive criticism of the venue, formerly the site of books burned by the Nazis. “So far, we can’t say if we are showing at another location in July. We will have talks with the senate who will decide whether Bebelplatz will keep hosting the event in the future or not,” IMG’s Daniel Aubke said.

—Karin Leiberg