PEOPLEText: Peta Jenkin

How did you meet your business partner Desiree Heiss? And what made you decide to collaborate together?

I was studying in Hannover and Desiree was in Vienna. We were pen-pals initially for about a year, and then finally we met and found that we got on really well and had similar ideas, and neither of us wanted to follow the fashion internship route, where you just go and work for some big fashion name, or end up ‘famous’ but totally stressed out!

The fashion school in Hannover where I was studying was more focused on the practical side of things. At Desiree’s school, Helmut Lang was teaching so her studies were more concept-orientated. So although we had similar ideas we were taught in completely different ways, which allowed us to each bring our own skills toward the collaboration.

And we’re both from the South of Germany and we come from a similar middle-class background, so we have the same expectations when it comes to the business side of things.

How did you come up with the name ‘BLESS’?

It just sounded good! Simple, and easy to read.

Tell me about BLESS’ first project.

Our first project was an experiment, a photo-collage featuring our first ever piece ‘Suntops’, with our phone number on it and the BLESS name which we made many copies of and postered around inner-city Berlin. It was sort of a test, to see if people would respond to something posted on the street, for which we didn’t have big expectations!

BLESS debut ‘Suntop’ and Photo-collage, 1996

Well of course we only got a few strange phone calls, so one year later we decided to buy one page advertisements in various fashion magazines, and then we got three responses – one from a Swiss woman who wanted the fur wig to go skiing with, one from the manager of Colette, Paris, who was very curious about it, and Martin Margelia, who wanted to use them in a catwalk show.

BLESS 00 – ‘Fur Wigs’, 1996

How was it working with Martin Margiela on your first commission?

He asked us to create several ‘Fur Wigs’ for his show, and he was lovely to work with. At that time we felt very inexperienced, we had to do so much in such a short time, and we had to sign a contract which was all very serious, but the whole thing went well.

What difficulties did you face setting up your own business?

We were both very naive about the business side of things when we first started up. We had absolutely no clue about business or organising money, but slowly we were able to build something up, by working initially in styling or other jobs, and putting away some money every month for the BLESS project. It took about three years of very hard effort to actually see any results. Also our mothers helped out with the accounting!

How do you generate your ideas? Is there a particular working method?

The ideas just come. When we come up with an idea, we just do it – we’re obsessed with realising the idea, whether we have to teach ourselves how to do it, or get someone else to help us. It’s never a case of ‘we can’t do that’ – we just get around it. We release high-quality, limited-edition items that we want people to experience and enjoy in ways they never thought of before.

Address: 38 Mulack Strasse, 10119 Berlin
Tel: +49 (0)30 2759 6566

Text: Peta Jenkin
Photos: Courtesy of BLESS

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