Premium is Germany's top directional fashion trade show, pulsing with the energy created by fresh new labels as well as playing host to more established, bigger brands. At this season's edition, the largest in the show's four-year history, more than 700 brands from 19 countries were presented to an audience of buyers hailing mostly from Austria, Germany and Switzerland.
Only a few UK and Republic of Ireland visitors made the trip this season, but for those who did there were lots of hidden gems to be found across all product categories. Ranging from cutting-edge men's tailoring to quirky and individual women's collections, the breadth of the fashion on offer at Premium is prodigious.
A new eveningwear arena called Red Carpet Looks accommodated 11 designers specialising in glamorous partywear, and the area is expected to increase in size next season. The range of accessories and footwear brands was also expanded for autumn 07, along with the offer from Scandinavian designers.
More than 70 collections from brands based in Scandinavia were present, making Premium their largest platform for international orders. Labels such as Filippa K, Baum und Pferdgarten, Imitz and organic and fair trade newcomer Fin showed alongside denim brands including Nerve, Silver Jeans, True Religion and Wrangler Blue Bell.
Despite the relaxed, boutique feel of the show, buyers still use it primarily as an order-writing forum. Show organiser Anita Bachelin says: "Premium is about business above all. We appreciate what we do. But at the end of the day it's hard business here. When US buyers travel to shows, they place orders and do business. It's very important for us in Europe to learn from that attitude, especially because it's so tough out there at the moment. The shows are not always about having a party. That's our message - it's all about money."
Meaning 'cutter' in Italian, this menswear and womenswear label delights in doing exactly what it says on the tin. The small 15-piece men's range boasts immaculately cut 2sb field jackets, shawl-collar blazers and trim-fit suits. Customers can pick their own fabrics from tweeds, velvets and jacquard. The women's range is similarly styled and has an androgynous feel.
Prices from £86 to £105.
00 39 80 48 57 175, www.marcona3.com
New designer Alexander Kruger showed his 40-piece eveningwear collection in Premium's new Red Carpet Looks hall. Sumptuous velvet, leather and cashmere dresses take their lead from 1980s power dressing and 1970s disco styles. A black silk dress is bound at the waist with a swathe of silver sequins, while a velvet knickerbocker jumpsuit brings a gloriously quirky edge to the range.
Prices from £230 to £659.
00 49 16 33 73 70 07, www.apollonville.com
Norwegian label Fin's claim to be the world's first organic and fair-trade fashion label may be open to debate, but the brand's founders have definitely got their hearts in the right place. The 22-piece collection is made from Indian-produced cotton certified as organic, and features cord, denim, jersey and knits. The curved, asymmetric lines are based on the architecture in the Finnish designer's home country.
Prices from £10 to £66.
00 47 21 96 08 07, www.finfashion.com
Cable knit cardigans, angel-sleeve jumpers and asymmetric fastening knits are the speciality at F-w-r-d, which stands for Flow with Radical Designation. Only in its second season, F-w-r-d sources its wool from Uruguay, and transforms it by hand into the 30-piece range in Brazil.
Prices from £16 to £230.
00 49 17 76 65 43 20, www.f-w-r-d.com
German label Orwell boasts an enormous 450-piece range, so chose to present a smaller capsule collection of 1960s and 1980s-inspired dresses, ruffled-collar jackets, blazers with patent piping and printed silk dresses. The brand's vibrant palette of violet, red and black is commercial and wearable.
Prices from £16 to £613.
00 49 72 51 69 09 12, www.orwell.com
With a 52-piece womenswear range alongside a co-ordinated 30-piece mini-me girls' range, Smooph is on to a marketing gem. Mums and their young daughters can play dress-up in puff-sleeved trench coats, wrap boleros, ruffled detail coats and embroidered corduroy jackets. For kids, the naive silhouettes are suited to tweed, wool and crochet knits.The brand is truly international too: it is run from the US, designed by a Swede and made in Italy.
Prices from £18 to £78.
07961 315969, www.smooph.se
Showing at Premium for the third consecutive season, London-based label Unconditional offers streamlined, modish tailoring, knitwear and shirts for men and women. Key pieces from designer Philip Stephens include a neon green mohair cowl-neck knit and a crisp white shirt with either a funnel neck or hood attached. For autumn 07, the sombre black, grey and cream colour palette is punctuated with jolts of neon green and violet.
Prices from £22 to £350.
020 7434 4333, www.unconditional.uk.com
Former music video stylist Birgit Nehls set up her eponymous label four years ago in her home town of Hamburg, and her 40-piece autumn range includes sportswear-inspired loungewear and clubwear. The range is strong on sassy halterneck party pieces made from Lurex-mix sweatshirt material.
Prices from £25 to £45.
00 49 40 22 74 80 48, www.birgit-nehls.de
Designer Preben Toft has spent several decades as a freelance designer for "a number of big Danish brands", so he knows a thing or two about balancing creativity and commerciality. In its second season, his own label takes inspiration from the 1960s, with boat-collar tailoring, gently pleated coats and trumpet-sleeved jackets sitting alongside cropped bolero twinsets and classic white shirts. His monochrome palette is intended to increase the lifespan of the garments and make them more classic and trans-seasonal.
Prices from £18 to £113.
01244 851355, www.must-have.dk
Copenhagen-based Mille K specialises in feminine clothes that celebrate the female form. Jersey dresses feature tone-on-tone loops and ruching, and cardigans are covered in rick-rack. But the pieces retain a raw quality which keeps them wearable.
Prices from £7 to £70.
00 45 70 22 07 01, www.mille-k.dk
DEAN & TYLER
Chic menswear label Dean & Tyler takes its name from the nicknames of its founders and designers. The pair have an eye for quality and a form-fitting cut, and the 45-piece range features narrow lapel blazers, slim-fit trousers and a naval-inspired blazer.
Prices from £31 to £302.
020 7078 4112, www.deantyler.co.uk
Mandalay is a 50-piece range of glamorous eveningwear in all the colours of the rainbow. Glitzy diamante sparkles on aqua tulle, sequins hug the surface of pea-green silk satin, and intricate embroidery brings fluttering pewter chiffon to life. Pastel hues are also carried off with aplomb, showing that LA style doesn't have to be peacock bright.
Prices from £395 to £659.
00 49 21 11 71 499, www.unifa-fashion.com.