Fashion / Style

Fashion Designer Rieke Common Embraces Jungle Prints, Decries Self Serious Fashion

Life is a Jungle — Why Not Wear It?

BY // 10.07.19

NEW YORK — Rieke Common likes to have fun. The Munich-based designer develops a lighthearted theme every season that allows women who wear her Maison Common collection to assert their individuality and have a good time.

For spring 2020, Common calls her collection called “Life is a Jungle,” and it has an abundance of sweaters, skirts and other pieces featuring monkeys cavorting in the wild and other jungle prints. The looks, which were on display in a Manhattan showroom during New York Fashion Week, also include dresses with color-blocked dots, tweed jackets, floral silk trousers and wispy tulle tea-length dresses with intricate floral embroidery.

“Fashion should never be that serious,” Common says. “We are not performing surgery but creating fashion and fashion should always be fun!”

In an email interview Common tells PaperCity why she believes a good theme is always important, what she learned from Oscar de la Renta, and what she likes most about Houston, where she will visit November 7 to 8 for a personal appearance at Elizabeth Anthony.

PaperCity: One of the trademarks of Maison Common is that your prints have a fun theme every season. How did that come about? And can you give some examples from past seasons?

Rieke Common: Yes, this is our signature. With these prints you can easily build humor into the collection. I always liked having a theme. It makes work easier and provides a thought you can follow. If you have too many ideas you can easily be taken away.

In the past, we had a circus theme with iconic prints with carousels for example, or there was a travel collection with maps prints and funny cars. For us it is easier to talk about the “Life is a Jungle” collection than saying, “This is the Spring/Summer Collection 2020.” We think it is a little bit old school to talk about seasons with a date on it.

Our collection is not “old” one year later. It is still modern, so we are starting to give our collection names from now on and the fun prints help to define that headline.

PC: What is your theme for spring 2020 and how it is reflected in the collection?

RC: This collection is call “Life is a Jungle!” And of course it is meant to be with a twinkle in your eye. So we have a fun jungle prints with monkeys; also you can find the monkeys on pullovers and inside jackets.

PC: The new collection also has a number of looks with polka dots, which seems to be a big trend for spring. Why are you going “dotty” this season?

RC: We are always dotty! It’s another signature. And especially, in the combination with the jungle print, it becomes very special and very wearable.

PC: Jackets have also been an important part of the brand. What is the range of jacket options in the new collection?

RC: We offer all lengths and styles of jackets for every kind of customers no matter what size. There are long blazers with stand-up collars, little jackets with Peter Pan collars and very rich jackets made out of Italian and French tweeds. This season, we also offer unconstructed cotton lifestyle jackets and some very decorated evening jackets.

PC: Despite being a seasoned designer, you left Germany for New York to intern with Oscar de la Renta in 1999. How long did you intern for de la Renta? And what was the most important thing you learned while interning with the iconic designer?

RC: I actually interned only three months and then they offered me a job.  So I had a social security number and was working full time. What did I learn? Make a statement! I lived in New York while Sex and the City was in its prime and at that time it was all about making a statement. And I think it still it!

PC:  For those who are not familiar with Maison Common, how would you describe the brand? And who is your target audience?

RC:  We want to inspire all women regardless of age, ethnicity or body size with invigorating, courageous, colorful and luxurious collections. The look of Maison Common can be the perfectly coordinated outfit or simply the “must have” item of the season. But no matter the look, it is extremely feminine, uniquely detail driven, and always chic with an unexpected ironic twist.

Each component is individually developed from the exclusive prints, special buttons, and embroidery to the matching braids and trimmings. Our longtime partners are the best artisans in their fields and always follow time-honored and high-grade approaches in everything they do. In an intimate creative exchange with these leading weavers, printers and embroidery makers, we develop the remarkable fabrics which are exclusive to Maison Common.

Production is all done in Europe with the majority of 80 percent in Germany and the knitwear is 100 percent made in Italy.

PC: I read that you have two children. How old are they? And how do you combine your very busy work life and motherhood?

RC: Yes, Oscar is 11 and Frida 10 years old. (The name Oscar is a coincidence, or may be it was subconscious?) To do the job that I do, it only works if you have a partner who does 50 percent of the work at home and you employee people to help you. If people tell you something else, they lie.

PC: Your first visit to Houston was in 2017. What are your impressions of the Houston woman?

RC:  It will be my second time now! The Houston women that I met were very stylish and have great taste. It was very easy to talk to them. I had so much fun!

PC: Is there anything you plan to do or see while in Houston, other than the appearances at Elizabeth Anthony?

RC: I have again a list of places to see from my friends who lived there during their medical studies. The Museum District is one of them and I want so see the street art. And, of course, a real rodeo would be cool!

Part of the Special Series:

PaperCity - On The Runway Spring 2020