Nina Birri

Sanft/Mutig | 2020 | Ba Modedesign


At the core of my collection lies my fascination and frustration with the men‘s suit. I have always had conflicted feelings towards this set of garments and what they represent. On the one hand, I love the craftsmanship, the skill behind tailoring, the fierceness and festivity of a suit. On the other hand, it is a symbol of patriarchy and male assertiveness. As a woman*, wearing a suit is a statement; a man* in a suit is simply well dressed and falls in line with the generations of men* before him*. 

While the men’s suit still dominates the public image of decision making power in politics, business and on important cultural events, its importance in everyday life is waning. Many people don‘t like wearing suits for various reasons. It is deemed uncomfortable and who wants to be associated with a wall street banker* or a corrupt politician* anyway? The development of the suit we know today is highly influenced by the development of gender separation in the time of enlightenment and the French revolution. The manifestation of the gender dichotomy in fashion that followed still exists today, albeit less extreme and is questioned more thoroughly in todays gender debate. Throughout the course of my research I wondered if the suit will die as a symbol of patriarchy. Or if it will be appropriated for a more liberal expression of gender.

For this collection, I wanted to create a wardrobe full of desirable garments based on the positive elements of the suit, its fierceness and strength. The basic silhouette is inspired by the Zoot Suit subculture that appropriated the suit in the 1940s to show resistance towards the war and racism. It is defined by wide shoulders, a narrow waist and a full, pegged leg. The collection is designed across gender, and combines traditionally male and female attributes, drawing inspiration from the strict separation of mens tailoring and dressmaking. 

I wanted to make the suit comfortable but still keep its elegance and dressed-up attitude. There are references to lingerie worked into the architecture of the suit: hook and eye closures, a corsage turned belt, the use of tulle and silk alongside traditional wool fabrics. The sleekness of the suit is broken up by layering pieces, draped elements and crochet details. Many pieces are interactive in the way they can be worn with hidden cuffs, hooks and eyes, integrated scarfs and alternative closures that allow for different shapes depending on the mood of the wearer. 

Created in consultation with: Prof. Valeska Schmidt-Thomsen  / Prof. Dr. Ingeborg Harms / KM Lars Paschke



Fotos: Killa Schütze
Foto Assistenz: Veit Vogel
H&M: Nghiem Tuong VI
Models: Mini  & Marek