Brigitte Gradl in her Baldham studio with one of her favorite models from the current collection. © Susanne Edelmann
It's time for other things. Brigitte Gradl had customers from all over Germany, but now she is closing her Baldham fashion studio "Britta Haute Couture" for good.
Baldham – "I've been interested in fashion since I was a little girl," says Brigitte Gradl, owner of Britta Haute Couture in Baldham. After 37 years of self-employment, she has now organized her last fashion show.
Gradl's dream was to become a fashion designer, she learned her profession from scratch. After completing her apprenticeship as a tailor, she became a director of the well-known fashion designer Heinz Schulze-Varell, who in his heyday designed dresses for film stars such as Zarah Leander and Lilian Harvey. "A director implements what the designer has come up with," explains Gradl.
Brigitte Gradl implemented the ideas of the famous Heinz Schulze-Varell
When Schulze-Varell died in 1985, however, Gradl was first on the street. Many former customers asked her if she wanted to start her own business and, after extensive advice from the employment office and the Chamber of Crafts, she finally founded "Britta Haute Couture", initially in her own apartment. Later, she got a salon in Munich's Regina House, where Munich Fashion Week was also held at the time. In 1986, Gradl was able to hold her first own fashion show there. She is usually inspired by fabrics that whisper to her what she should tailor from them, but also by pictures, flowers or an ambience to which the respective garment should fit. Their models are aimed at ladies who value quality, high-quality fabrics and workmanship, timelessness and durability. Many things can be combined with each other, so that you can create several different outfits with just a few pieces. "This makes my fashion very sustainable," Gradl smiles. And: The fashion is wearable for "normal" women.
The designer doesn't think much of skinny models
"I've never had skinny models," says Gradl. Initially, she used mannequins from Schulze-Varell, but later, when the time of the much-criticized skinny models dawned internationally, Gradl looked for women in her circle of acquaintances who were slim but not skinny.
In 1997 she moved to Baldham with her husband and moved her salon to the elegantly decorated studio in the basement of her house on Eberweg. No problem for the clientele: "They also came to Baldham. Many customers were from northern Germany or Switzerland anyway, so it didn't matter to them whether they went to Munich or Baldham," says the fashion designer.
Trying it on is the be-all and end-all: "You can't tell on the clothes rail whether something suits you or not." She was very lucky with her customers, she emphasizes, "they were very nice, completely normal people, even if they had a lot of money."
Now it's time for other things
She doesn't talk about names, she only mentions one: that of TV actress Elisabeth Wiedemann, who died in 2015. In mid-May, Gradl presented her last collection in her home studio, and at the end of the year she wants to stop altogether. Then her husband retires and she herself, who has now reached the sixth decade of life, would like to have more time for herself and for hobbies such as reading and gardening.
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"When I do, I only sew for myself," she says with a smile. This was probably on her old Pfaff sewing machine, which she bought second-hand in 1986 and which still does its job faithfully.
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