From Munich to Hollywood

Design duo Talbot Runhof transforms the red carpet

What do Kristen Stewart, Carrie Underwood and Kate Walsh all have in common? Answer: they’re fans of German design duo, Talbot Runhof. The power pair, Johnny Talbot and Adrian Runhof, met 1991 and today dress stars all over the world. They show their collections in Paris, but stay down to earth in Munich. Adrian Runhof talked to us at his Munich showroom, a world that’s more courageous, outrageous, colorful and fun than any other version of reality. The brand is not afraid to make a glamour statement—or, indeed, a political one: their legendary Spring/Summer 2015 Putin t-shirt features a caricature by Stephan Hering of the Russian leader as King Kong hugging the Empire State Building!

How do your clients view your collections’ new bolder direction? 
Over the years, we’ve begun to show designs that really interest us; they’re more experimental and colorful, and they go beyond typical red-carpet gowns. Our clients trust us, and our brand makes them feel courageous. At the moment we’re doing luxurious sportswear, and they love this new direction. 

Who wears your designs? 
We celebrate the extraordinary in every woman, not just the stars. We’ve dressed the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez, but we’re not running after the next pop star asking her to wear our designs. We have to be inspired by her, and she needs to fit the brand. 

Who is your style icon? 
Tilda Swinton. Her style is very individual yet feminine, and doesn’t fit any category—like our brand. 

Why have you continued to base yourselves in Munich? 
We’ve thought about moving to the US or Paris, but we love our clients here—they are faithful and they support us. Besides, the peace of mind we get from working in Munich makes it feel like a retreat. Of course we travel all the time for inspiration—you only have to walk five minutes to grab a morning coffee in Paris and you have ideas for three new looks! 

You’ve shown your collections in Paris for many years—how have these shows evolved? 
We started with an off-show, and then had to wait a couple of seasons to be on the official fashion week calendar. Now we show in the Salon Imperial at the Westin hotel, where brands like Balmain, Balenciaga did their collections before. It was hard work, and nothing happened overnight. Sometimes we still feel in awe of the venue and the fact that people come to see us. The high ceilings, the chandeliers, the dark red velvet curtains—so magical! 

Have you ever thought of showing your collection in Berlin? 
We started in Paris in 2005, and there’s no reason to move: it’s where all the couture houses are based, and we feel closer to them, fashion-wise. 

Do you use Swarovski crystals in your collections? 
We’ve incorporated them in our design process for many years, starting with Hot Fix crystals; but now we experiment a lot. We get inspiration from the catalogue and the innovations, especially Spring/Summer 2015—it was an integral part of our designs. Adding luxury and glamour to simple pieces like white t-shirts, or using crystals as a border, really does fit the theme of luxurious sportswear. 

You have a great relationship with your clients. Have you ever changed a design as a result of their feedback? 
Oh, yes! We noticed that some women don’t like their arms, so we started incorporating more long-sleeve dresses, since fashion hasn’t yet found alternatives to those horrible bolero jackets or scarves that some women use to cover their arms. Lots of these dresses ended up on red carpets worn by women who had no problem at all with their arms!


Text Katharina Kowalewski