Designer Showcase: Britta Uschkamp

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Britta Uschkamp is a couture lingerie designer based in Paris.

She first came to my attention before Black Label Magazine was even conceptualized, when I began shooting campaigns for Oh Baby Lingerie here in Portland. We were so amazed and enthralled at the creativity of the Ribbon set that when we decided that the premise of Black Label was to feature designers like Britta, we had to feature Britta!

Not only are Britta’s ribbon designs unique & sexy, they are rooted in her desire to create functional pieces. As Britta conceptualized her lingerie, she came to discover that she didn’t understand the inclusion of little ribbons that had no purpose. “Off with that,” as she says in her video C.V., “and on with ribbons! Proper ribbons that you can really use!” This allows the wearer to really explore and embrace their own confidence and creativity while at the same time loving their own body.

Britta’s accolades, of which there are many, include Finalist of Arte TV’s “100 Ways to Wear a Bra;” Finalist of the Grand Prix de la Creation, Paris; Winner of the Maredimoda/Mittelmoda Beachwear Collection; and Winner of the Graphic Armor Design Competition.
In addition to designing for her own brand, she has worked with Givenchy, nothing-nothing by Julian Roberts, Coréle Lingerie, and Disney France.

“I want to revolutionize the lingerie world and create a lasting design, something that becomes iconic and inspires.”Britta Uschkamp

Britta also writes, and has published numerous erotic short stories (which we hope to include in a future issue or two here at Black Label).

She is also an avid runner, heading a running team, sponsered by Adidas, called “Adidas Runners Les Abbesses.” She is also making designs for running gear.

In January, we jetted over to Paris. Melissa and I spent a lovely evening with her over dinner, a stroll through Montmartre, complete with delicious French pastries.

Britta is a wonderful person and we’re thrilled and honored to be able to present you her designs and this candid interview.

Interview with Britta

BLM: In one of your videos, you mention “creative fragmentation.” You dabble in theater, writing, styling, and photography in addition to designing your beautiful lingerie. Do you consider that the fragmentation “comes together” in your lingerie designs?

Britta: With the expression ‘creative fragmentation’ I am describing two things:
1. The fact that all my projects (and even private life) are interlaced and feed each other with ideas; it’s a beautiful circle. Also, there is a lot of fluidity and even with a set plan, I am open to changes when it improves the original idea.

2. Often, the best results come from not worrying about being perfect, but instead letting yourself be lead by the creative process. For example, a mistake in pattern-cutting can open up the way to a yet more beautiful design than initially intended!

BLM: You have worked with a great many well known designers before branching out on your own. How did those experiences influence you? Which experience influenced you the most?

Britta: I wanted to have as many varied experiences as possible to complete my design-education. Whenever I was working for a young designer-label, I got inspired to follow into their foot-steps. Working for a small label, you get a very good insight in the design-part as well as the business-side of the label. However, this also made me realize how difficult the fashion-industry is if you really want to make a living.

A very memorable experience was with ‘nothing nothing’, an ephermal/temporary label by the London designer Julian Roberts. Today he is touring the world teaching his unique technique of ‘Subtraction Patterncutting.

Whenever I need advice on design, creativity, even writing, matters of the heart and running, I know that I can always talk to him. I think that this kind of of experience is more valuable than simple making sure to have some famous fashion-label on your CV.

BLM: Was there a particular inspiration for the string-multi piece?

Britta: Yes. I wanted to create a piece that gives the person who wears it the choice of styling it themselves. The wearer can create a new look and mood every time they wear it. The ribbons are seperate from the lingerie-part and thus allow for a change of ribbon, colour, or even the use of more than one ribbon and also in combination with a scarf (the silk-scarves are the second option for this style in my collection).

Apart from this concept, the origin of my design-idea goes a little deeper.

Initially I had a simple dislike for all those decorative accessories, tiny bows and ribbons on lingerie. They are mostly placed to cover seams or to give some sort of ‘added value’ to the lingerie – whatever that value may be. So at some point I was wondering, what if this decoration could become useful? What if this tiny bow was a lot bigger, the ribbon a lot longer, to give the wearer inspiration to dream and play?

To explore this thought, I had sewn up a simple thong-base and played around with different lengths of ribbons on a mannequin. Eventually, the length of 3,40mts is based on those experiments. A simple bow in the back may look like the ribbon is a little too long, but the 3,40mts are the optimum choice as the it is the perfect length when you place the ribbon and bow around the neckline. Also, during research, I had realised that some basic ribbon-designs exist, so my design had to go a lot further and develop into a rich concept – not just a fun-idea that would be forgotten.

I want to revolutionize the lingerie-world and create a lasting design, something that becomes iconic and inspires. Something so full of ideas that it will become an inherent part of lingerie-history and offer design-ideas for all future collections.

This ambitious thought is also part of my life-philosophy, of being a ‘soft feminist activist’.

BLM: Since I first saw it on your site, the term “soft feminist” has interested me. You also use the“anti-pinup.” Could you elaborate?

Britta: I think it starts with the fact that I don’t particularly appreciate the concept of classical femininity. A woman should be free to be feminine as well as masculine and not have to contort her body with high heels, make-up and corsets. Of course, I do enjoy browsing vintage books about pin-ups, but as a current life-style I do not understand it. I would always rather wear trainers than heels or even go barefoot, at one with nature.

As far as corsets go, I think that it is wrong to want to shape the body with an uncomfortable garment. Shape comes from living a healthy life and ideally from working out. There is no need to be a fitness-model, of course not! However, unless illness won’t allow it, I think that sports should be an integral part of everyone’s life. You don’t need to run a marathon, but you should not be lazy and instead enjoy feeling the life-force of your body. Sports makes this possible.

So ideally, lingerie should enhance the body as it is and the body will dictate the shape, not the other way around. Comfort and being happy with one’s body equals sex-appeal.

BLM: Are there any other influences/influencers to your designs?

Britta: My basic inspiration is lingerie itself, as a functional product and how existing shapes and technical restrictions can be developed into better designs. In addition to this, especially when it comes to the concept of feeling in a new collection, I am mostly inspired by the experience of falling in love. This can be a feeling for another person, yet also objects, colours, emotions, a tv-show, a book, a creative universe – essentially, life is an endless source of inspiration. Translating those emotions into designs or other creative products is the daily work of any creative person.

BLM: What do you see as the future for your brand?

Britta: The string (thong) ‘multi’ will always be at the heart of my brand. Everything that follows has a connection back to this idea of playfulness, versatility, and individual lingerie.

Over the last 2 years I got crazy about running and fitness. So ideally, I would like to combine this new passion with my lingerie-brand. The beginnings of this can be seen in the costumized T-Shirts I have created for my run club #WhyIRunLesAbbesses. I have a million more ideas, but this is where I want to venture first. Sport and lingerie are both about the body and well-being, so this all comes as a very logical path to follow.

BLM: You mention on your site the goal to create a cutting edge TV drama series. Could you give us a hint?

Britta: Especially US cable-shows are such a big influence on global culture and are immensely inspiring! They are so rich in research, organisation, composition, fashion, magic, and character.

In my spare time I continue writing my diary and also fiction. The fiction is very visual and I think that TV, and even something feature-length, would be the best way to translate what I see into a creative product. It is also the perfect combination of fashion, literature and character/human nature.

I also love the idea of spending such an intense time with a big creative team every season. Maybe that’s why I put so much energy into my job for the run club, it has become quite the family.

Realizing this dream is difficult as it involves so many people to produce such a project and I don’t know where exactly to start yet.

BLM: What inspires your writing? Do you have a personal favorite? Where can we find your writing? (AND, would you like to put one of your erotic shorts in the magazine?)

Britta: The main inspiration for my writing is the concept of desire. This can most obviously originate from shared moments with another person, but also from any other experiences, sounds, colours, smells, touch. The only difficulty is finding the time to write down those thoughts immediately and to develop them into a proper text that will give pleasure to readers.

Most recently I got inspired by a lipgloss accident. Someone I liked, but did not consciously notice before, drank from my water-bottle and suddenly had shimmery, rosey lips and my mind went wandering. I am not in love, but I am inspired to dream, write and explore. To be a good writer, it is important to follow up on instinct.
I used to read books all the time, not so much at the moment as I am mostly working or running. I like Charles Bukowski’s style, so direct, hilarious, funny, sad, and immediate. Another kind of story I love to read are gay erotic short stories or books. I probably find them particularly intriguing because, as a woman, I will never experience the same stories. Hence my curiosity.

Yes, I would absolutely want to put an erotic short into your magazine! One of two current ideas/inspirations that keep me up at night are the lipgloss incident and something I may title “On Fire.”

BLM: In one of your videos you say that the discovery of your Polish roots is very integral to your identity. How so?

Britta: It may be a prejudice, but since I spent some summers in Poland, soaked up the culture and learned the language of my mother, I can really see how my personality is mostly composed of two parts. The first is German: organized, punctual, logical, rational, reliable, reserved. The second is definitely Polish: creative, emotional, spontaneous, innovative, relaxed, warm.

A more curious discovery was that I really really love Polish food. My mother never cooked it when I grew up (in Germany) and there I was at the university in Krakow in 2005 for 4 weeks, eating my way through what seems the whole Polish cuisine for the first time. Everything seemed very familiar, as if this taste had been missing from my culinary routine.

BLM: What is/has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur?

Britta: Creativity comes easy. The big challenge is to convert creativity into a viable business. For example, getting your prices right, finding good clients, and getting them to pay their invoices. Simple really, as in any business venture. Another challenge is the time it takes to establish yourself. You need to stick to your ideas and be absolutely convinced by the product and dreams you are selling. Disappointments and difficulties are inevitable. The only way to succeed is optimism, endurance, hard work, and a good network.

(Britta’s PR and official campaign images provided by and used with the permission of Britta Uschkamp. PR images © Shehan Hanwellage; Underwater images © Del Sol Photography.)

You can see Britta’s videos and stockist list at

Her designs can also be purchased at Oh Baby Lingerie in Portland.

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