by Bianca Hill
New York based artisan and designer Rose Berger does not fit into the role of a traditional fashion designer. While her work is as labor intensive and intricate as a lot of couture houses, she does not work with traditional modes of dressmaking. She works with metal and chainlinks and her work for all intensive purposes falls into the spectrum of functional and wearable art, as opposed to the confines of a clothing line.
Rose's love of jewelry stems from the role it plays in propagating aesthetics while being an intricate vehicle for all human cultures. And that underlying realization prompted her to create designs that are more than just accessories – they are “wearable art” pieces, functional by design but philosophically close to a performance statement. In other words a form of functional couture.
So it is no surprise that Rose's work comes highly recommended from the runways of New York Fashion Week and has been featured in Vogue Mexico.
Since 2005 Rose's main focus has been on designing jewelry, body chains and statement headpieces from different types of metal. She found a certain sense of levity and love in chainmail. The process of taking just one small metal ring and connecting thousands of them together for her seemed cathartic and intriguing. Roses's dresses are made with metal mesh and chains. The outfit with the headpiece that’s black and silver were made using rubber O-rings. What it means is that all of these dresses are bespoke. And it is worth pointing out that sometimes this process takes about a month to produce a single piece, and such labor-intensive work can only be labeled as couture by any rational standard.
Rose's Japanese chainmail is often created with Sterling Silver rings. It is very intricate and the weave is very tight. This type of chainmail takes the longest to make but again the outcome is well worth the trouble. And looking at Rose's work you will find that the intricacy is not lost on the movement or flow of the dresses. It is a rare sight to find something so intricate that also adheres to the aesthetic movements of a fantastic dress.
Ultimately, a silversmith veering off into the formulaic world of dressmaking to exhibit her work during fashion week is a rather intriguing proposition. Even for a trained silversmith to create dresses that fit the idea of a dress while remaining true to the skillset of the silversmith is a hard balance to pull off. The metal mesh dresses by Rose Berger juggled both form and function exceptionally well. While she was designing these pieces she knew that she wanted them to compliment and flow with the movement of the body and not be stuck in a rigid framework. She wanted to expose elements of the female form but not to the point of absurd. So Rose did what most naturally gifted artisans do...she just picked up her pliers and started to formulate each dress in her head and then on to the metal mesh. Due to her training as a silversmith and focus on jewelry she was initially filled with doubt about her process but as she pushed on she realized that the age old theories of making jewelry would not work when making a metal dress. So she started improvising and slowly but surely the dresses began to take form. Her holistic approach to creating each piece is deeply rooted in her own identity as a silversmith and a jewelry designer. And as a designer, as she dissects her own methods and finds what is right for her own creative expressions, she is creating a set of work that holds as strong as the metals they are made from. And the timelessness of her philosophy translated into her creative expressions bodes exceptionally well for Rose Berger and her unique creations.
Photographer: Marlon Hamilton / HaiCang Sg
Copyedit: Nika Barone
Models: DeZirae Bey, Jennifer Lui, Dominique Joy Thompson and MicQui Monique
MUA: Ivelisse Rosado
Designer: Rose Berger