Berlin is a city known for its edginess, which often conjures up images of black-clad club kids and graffiti-filled streets. But, it’s also a city with many faces – from its diverse neighbourhoods to multifaceted fashion scene – there is much beneath the surface. These two artists are exploring the latter in their photo series about the unique, timeless and feminine fashion of Berlin women.
The timeless, confident aesthetic of Berlin women was something Canadian-born stylist Jayme Miller began to notice when she moved to the city in 2016. Wanting to capture this less-well-documented side of Berlin fashion, Miller paired up with photographer and friend Tobias Willmann to create a simple, clean and era-defying photo series.
The pair chose six women from their immediate circle and women they’d found online who shared a similar simple, classic elegance and strong sense of self. We spoke with the project’s photographer, Tobias Willmann to discover the duo’s process and learn more about these inspiring women.
Can you tell me a bit about how you both met and when you started working together?
Jayme and I met just over a year ago at a photo shoot where I was assisting a photographer, and she was assisting a stylist. After that, we stayed in touch and started hanging out together.
In this latest project you’ve explored the timeless fashion of Berlin women, can you break down what is it is about their aesthetic that’s sparked your interest?
It would be difficult to speak for all of the women in Berlin, but within the sphere that Jayme and I were generally a part of, there was always a distinct sense of femininity that we observed. I think these women are aware of their innate and natural beauty as women, and from that stems a remarkable self-confidence. At the end that was really the key to this project – to capture that in a series of photos.
In a city that’s so heavily associated with its outlandish, wild party scene, it’s common to see a lot of attention around this fashion. What’s nice about your project is it looks at a different side of Berlin and women in the city. Is this something you wanted to highlight?
Yes. In Berlin, there has always existed such a diversity of people and lifestyles, but it’s so easy to define a city according to its more radical side, which naturally draws more attention. Jayme and I wanted to simply capture the side of Berlin that we were a part of, and the areas and aesthetics that we were innately drawn to.
Can you tell me a bit about your process for this photo series?
Jayme and I tend to be nostalgic, yet we also want to be moving forward. As a compromise, we wanted our project to appear timeless. By looking at the photos, I don’t think you can really place them into a particular decade or era. The clothes were important to this idea and Jayme attained that by mixing the women’s own pieces of clothing with a lot of second-hand or vintage pieces that she found. Although there are pieces from many different decades, in the end, they are all mixed together. I use film in my photography, which makes me work with more concentration and focus, but there is also room for unexpected outcomes.
Who are the women that are included in this joint project?
The women we included in the series are all women who we felt immediately inspired by in terms of the way they present themselves physically, as well as their character. Some of the women were friends of ours, some were models, and some we found on Instagram. I think amongst each of these women there is a strong awareness of who they are and how they would like to portray themselves. Moreover, the city of Berlin has played a key role in the development of each of their lives. Similarly, the places within Berlin where we chose to photograph were simply places that we felt naturally drawn to, whether they were mundane or extraordinary.