Chatting Sex and the City, sustainability and vintage fabric with designers Rianna + Nina.
In a televised sea of unattainable lifestyles and scripted drama, fashion is one element we can replicate in reality.
The transfixing glow of fashion forward television draws us into the lives and wardrobes of the best dressed characters on screen as we lose ourselves in their fictitious affairs. We may never live like them, but with stylists pulling from real life racks we can certainly dress like them.
The whimsicality of luxury label Rianna + Nina’s designs lend themselves fittingly to bubbly characters like Sex and the City’s Charlotte York (Kristin Davis) in its reboot And Just Like That… and effervescent American expat Emily Cooper (Lilly Collins) in season two of Emily in Paris. The Berlin-born brand gone Hollywood dreams up one-of-a-kind designs we can shop to bridge the gap between us and our favourite fictional fashion icons.
FASHION caught up with designer duo Rianna Kounou and Nina Knaudt to discuss spotting Rianna + Nina on some of television’s most stylish characters of the moment, the importance of sustainability, and the process of sourcing their standout vintage fabrics.
What makes Rianna + Nina the perfect brand to appear in TV shows with a strong focus on fashion?
Nina: Our ready-to-wear and one-of-a-kind creations are real eyecatchers. With our dedication to colourful prints and mixed patterns, our designs have a unique character that not only makes an impact in real life but also on screen. Especially the uniqueness of our designs brings a new nuance that we also see expressed within these shows.
How did you feel when you got the news that Rianna + Nina would be featured on And Just Like That…, and were you fans of the original Sex and The City show?
Nina: When the stylist of the new reboot of Sex and the City contacted us, we were already totally over the moon. Now seeing the scenes featuring our designs feels truly amazing. Rianna and I are great fans as the series in the late ‘90s already meant a form of lifestyle and inspiration to us. Now being part of the reboot is a real highlight — personally as well as business-wise. We feel so moved.
In Emily in Paris, legendary fashion photographer Ellen von Unwerth wears one of your designs. What does it mean to you to see such an icon wearing your work?
Rianna: When seeing the first pictures from the set and Ellen wearing our Carnaval Judith Blazer we were truly speechless. With her strong personality, Ellen portrays exactly the female empowering attitude we want to express with Rianna+Nina. It is an honour seeing her dressed in our ready-to-wear collection.
How did Rianna + Nina come to be?
Rianna: Nina and I met at a vintage furniture fair — both wearing bright colours and prints. We hardly knew each other, but our shared love for treasure-hunted vintage fabrics, craftsmanship and colourful prints connected us from the beginning.
Nina: This passion for the beauty of the past and collecting one-of-a-kind pieces telling decades of stories is what we always wanted to share with the world through our label. Starting with a small boutique Cabinet of Curiosities in Berlin in 2014, we later brought Rianna’s original vision to life: renewing hand-picked vintage materials into beautiful inimitable collector’s pieces.
Sustainability seems to be a core principle of the brand, how does Rianna + Nina practice sustainability?
Nina: For us, sustainability is defined by high quality and dedicated craftsmanship as well as the story and values behind a garment. By keeping our entire production in-house we can take care of every single step and detail, creating made-to-order works customized to the exact specifications of our clients. Working with hand-picked vintage fabrics and keeping a zero-waste policy in our atelier we ensure to reduce our impact.
Rianna: Every vintage fabric we source is used up to its last thread, in our one-of-a-kind creations, as details for our accessories and bracelets. The idea of upcycling is something I was raised with. I grew up with my parents already collecting vintage. Dedicated craftsmanship and reviving the forgotten beauty in designs is something that, for us, goes hand in hand.
What is the process of finding your vintage fabrics like, and what do you look for in a fabric?
Rianna: We treasure-hunt fabrics during our worldwide travels, being it on vintage markets, independent boutiques, or from befriended traders. Coming home with all these stories is the inspiring ground for later composing new creations in our Berlin atelier. When sourcing fabrics, I pay attention to the quality and feel of the material. But most importantly, it has to evoke something in me. Seeing a beautifully crafted fabric, my heart always makes a small jump. And then I am sure, it’s something I have to take home.
Congratulations on opening your first international flagship store in Paris! What is next for Rianna + Nina?
Nina: We still can’t put into words how incredible it feels seeing this dream of our come to life. For the next year, we are already planning some exciting projects including co-corporations with artisans we very much admire.