Leonie Mergen ranks as one of the most exciting young fashion designers on the international scene at the present time. Based in Berlin, her atelier focuses on haute couture and demonstrates the high-quality tailoring of her homeland.

Since its establishment in 2016, she has found inspiration in the traditional dress and motifs of Azerbaijan, initially with the Karabakh-Collection as her A/W Collection for 2017, which was featured at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin and London Fashion Week, attracting the attention of British Vogue.

This was followed by the Arif Aziz Collection for A/W 2019, unveiled at London Fashion Week, which took its point of departure from the oeuvre of one of the greatest Azerbaijani abstract artists.

The most recent collection for S/S 2019 is the Seven Beauties, which took its inspiration from the eponymous 13th-century Nizami Ganjavi poem, concerning Emperor Bahram Gur and seven princesses from different regions of the Earth.

Neil Watson caught up with Leonie for Visions in the aftermath of last week’s rapturous reception to the new collection at London Fashion Week, which was revealed amidst the imposing Victorian splendour of Devonshire Square in East London:

VoA: Today, we saw your new collection inspired by the Seven Beauties poem by Nizami Ganjavi. How would you describe this collection?

LM: The poem is very romantic, concerning an Emperor who falls in love with several princesses along the Silk Road. Each region also represents one of the seven stages of love, which is indicated by various different colours, reflecting the respective traditions. I also depicted each geographical area by using various fabrics. The regions were very diverse and it was challenging to include all those aspects in one collection and yet still maintain continuity. 

How did you achieve this?
This was maintained by using the same shapes, utilising some of the same fabrics and maintaining a colour theme through every look.

Did the Seven Beauties Ballet by Qara Qarayev inspire you?
My main inspiration was from the poem itself, albeit in translation, although I also looked at the costumes from various productions of the ballet. 

Are all the clothes still fabricated in Germany?
Everything is still made in Germany. We produced the showpieces in Berlin, and the production will be made in the west of Germany. All the fabrics are mainly from Italy and Switzerland.

The women’s looks were both suitable for day- and eveningwear. Is this something you were trying to achieve?
I was certainly aiming to achieve this with the collection, and this is easier with a S/S collection. 

How can customers purchase the collection?
We now have an online shop at www.leoniemergen.com, so you can buy them online. Hopefully we will establish our own physical store in the future. I am already receiving expressions of interest, particularly from multi-brand department store buyers in London and Baku. 

About the author: Neil Watson began his career in journalism in 1995, spent nine years as chief editor of TEAS Magazine and is a regular contributor to Visions.