Jennifer Klein and Dana Al Khalifa of TheOverdressed introduce the tightly edited capsule collection entitled 'Reve en Vert' of beautiful day to night wear. Dana values the importance of buying little, but buying well made, well produced beautifully executed pieces. This collection came about so naturally and organically as Jennifer shares the same values of sustainability and beauty.
"The three-tiered silk plissée skirt resembles the ocean and cascading waves, the ivory silk crepe flowing like water and resembling the soft and billowing foam on the wave’s crests."
The collection consists of four looks, made up of 7 pieces. All pieces are defined by their beautiful textures, be it slightly structured linen, softly cascading silk chiffon and double silk crepe or densely woven cotton shirting. The pieces are inspired by lush summers spent with friends and family between the beach and the city. The raffia fringe ensemble is made for relaxing under palm trees in the evening with friends. The three-tiered silk plissée skirt resembles the ocean and cascading waves, the ivory silk crepe flowing like water and resembling the soft and billowing foam on the wave’s crests. The more column like linen dress and linen plisée skirt are inspired by the tall and linear lines of skyscrapers and city skylines.
Jennifer Klein studied fashion design at Istituto Marangoni London and trained under one of Germany's last couture tailors. She has interned at and worked for some of the most prestigious couture and luxury houses in the fashion industry and honed her embroidery skills at the École Lesage in Paris.
Equipped with her international background and passion for cultural diversity, Jennifer has travelled all over the world in search of the finest materials. The many cultures Jennifer has been able to experience have left a strong mark in her approach to design, which is based on a desire to dream and to travel to another world through one's clothes.
She has purposefully placed herself in the slow fashion niche, away from the ever accelerating fashion system. Consequently, she puts an immense emphasis on sustainability and human rights in her creation processes and the fashion industry at large. Part of this work is done through the Girls For Plan Foundation, over which she presides.
"I sewed my first dress when I was 5 years old from a lace kitchen curtain."
Here we meet Jennifer more intimately and delve deeper into what modern day couture is all about.
TD: When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career as a couturier?
JK: It must have been very early. I sewed my first dress when I was 5 years old from a lace kitchen curtain. My mother also told me later on that our kindergarten teacher called at one point, slightly concerned, because I was only drawing dresses without people in them… I think my love for couture started at a very early age and was reinforced when I started taking sewing classes at the local evening and weekend school at the age of 11. The teacher was one of Germany’s last couture tailors and we soon became close friends. I learnt everything from her, to be exact to the half mm and how to shape fabric on a body. I love her endlessly and todays she works at my atelier, if only free-lance because she is already 75.
"I think one of the first things I noticed about you is how much you champion small niche brands with true values and craftsmanship- it was love at first sight for me."
TD: Both you and I champion sustainability and the creative process, can you tell us a little bit more about your design process and what made you so conscious?
JK: I think one of the first things I noticed about you is how much you champion small niche brands with true values and craftsmanship- it was love at first sight for me.
When I design, I think a lot about the women I am designing for. I want to celebrate the women I dress by creating designs that reflect their extraordinary personalities. They provide me with endless inspiration and often friendship, which helps me truly understand what women want and need in their daily lives. I think feeling and how you feel in your clothes and what they make you feel is incredibly important.
I also find a lot of inspiration in nature. I always take long walks on Sundays, for two or three hours, just to truly take in nature in all its beauty. I find a lot of my unusal colour combinations in nature, as well as ideas for embroideries, textures and prints.
To me there is only way of dressing, and that is bespoke (except for lingerie and jeans, those are the only things I buy “off the rack”). Creating and wearing bespoke pieces gets rid of the entire problem of over production, of sell-throughs and sales, of guessing customer tastes, of taking tremendous risks and most importantly, it gets rid of price pressure and the need to produce at the lowest possible price, whatever the cost.
The entire fashion system over the last 40 to 60 years – that’s how young ready to wear is- has never made sense to me. It is simply too much and causes and endless array of problems, both environmentally as well as humanitarian. I truly started specialising in sustainable fashion at university. I studied in London and was shocked by the fast fashion brands and how people treated their clothes as disposables. I started becoming active with different organisations, signed petitions and wrote my final dissertation on vicuna and its ability to change the lives of the people living in the Andes.
"My clients really are muses to me and I think about what they wear while they are at home cooking, doing yoga, maybe having a very small round of friends over, picking up their kids, etc."
TD: As a couturier your work is extremely personalized, what role has social media played for you as a couturier?
JK: The funny thing is, I never had a social media account of any kind before founding my own couture house- no facebook, no private Instagram, etc. And to this day, my company’s social media account is the only social media account I have and interact with. I think that is important because too much social media kills creativity.
For my company, I thought it would be important to somehow show my creations to a wider audience and give an overall picture of the atelier. So we slowly started building an account.
Over the past year, Instagram has proved tremendously important and helpful. As I was unable to see most of my international clients, they used the platform to stay in touch, see new creations and stay up to date with my work. We then scheduled virtual consultations with them and created pieces from a distance for them.
Of course seeing my clients’ Instagram accounts also shows me what they are currently doing and wearing, so that I can adapt designs accordingly. Being able to study someone’s style through many different posts and stories is in many ways very useful and allows me to design for the client more easily and naturally. My clients really are muses to me and I think about what they wear while they are at home cooking, doing yoga, maybe having a very small round of friends over, picking up their kids, etc.
"I also find a lot of inspiration in nature. I always take long walks on Sundays, for two or three hours, just to truly take in nature in all its beauty. I find a lot of my unusual colour combinations in nature, as well as ideas for embroideries, textures and prints."
TD: You’ve made couture accessible and sustainable by creating a beautiful nightwear and lingerie collection, was this done to make couture accessible and democratic for people who were otherwise intimidated by it?
JK: This was definitely one of the reasons! There is absolutely no need to be afraid of couture or having a bespoke piece made. It is all about comfort in every sense.
However, I also created the nightwear line as there was a gap in the German market. Italy and Spain both have beautiful local ateliers creating the most stunning and long lasting pieces for their elegant clients. Germany never had this and it was one of the things I missed most after coming back from abroad.
There is also a personal reason. I am a big believer in sleep and dreams. I need a lot of sleep to function at my most productive level. So naturally I spend a lot of time in bed. I also dream a lot and somehow in my dreams I end up working for and with my clients or I go to events! So I always want to make sure I am adequately dressed! I think it is so important to know what you put on your skin and to only wear materials that allow the skin to breathe. This is the first step to good quality sleep.
TD: Finally, what to you is the most magical part of what you do?
JK: There is so much magic involved! But if I had to pick the two most magical moments it would be when the garment is finished and we put it on the dummy and when the client receives it and puts it on for the first time. The smile and confidence our pieces can put on our clients’ faces always makes my heart sing and I am filled with endless gratitude to pursue a job I deeply and truly love and to change people’s lives in small ways.