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17 questions for Silke Gerloff, style consultant and personal shopper:
1. Would you please introduce yourself and explain your motivation particularly for your job:
I am a qualified fashion designer and very affine to textiles in general. I first used to work as a womens clothes buyer in Hamburg, then in France for several style agencies and finally in Frankfurt as an independent stylist for advertising photography. Dressing models brought me to the idea of offering personal shopping. I love the close and confident interaction with customers as I am happy to help them bring joy to their lives.
2. Have you always been a fashion enthusiast?
I have always been a textile-related lover. My granny was a clothes cut creator in the 1930s in Berlin and has always sewn clothes herself for us kids. My first self-made clothing item was a leather skirt which I actually glued together since I didn’t know how to sew at that time. I am fascinated by nice fabrics ever since, combining beauty and creating an overall nice appearance.
3. What do you like the most about your job?
Making my customers happy and providing them with a sense of security. It’s like a self-declared shopping grouch had fun while shopping with me – when I can help my customers, have a good time and nice encounters.
4. What do you like most within your offers?
Colours – no doubt! My grandpa was a visual artist and I won´t forget the smell of oil paint and canvas in his workroom. This passion is obviously inheritable since I cannot imagine a life without colours anymore. I strongly believe that colours are closely connected to one’s soul. After participating in a NCS colour workshop in Sweden I am considering to offer an individual colour solution for interior designs.
5. Let’s stick with the topic „colour“: what are your colour preferences?
I guess I can call myself lucky: the colour palette that reflects my natural colours (green eyes, sandy hair and warm skin tone) are my favorite colours, too. It’s the warm and strong tones of spring and fall and I have 3 favorites: green, yellow and orange. Currently, I am crazy about yellow, it’s so cheerful! My favorite neutral tone is olive.
6. Who are your favorite customers?
Each and every one whose curiosity drives her or him to come to my consultation. I like consulting men, too. Most of my customers don’t have measures like a model, instead, they have usual shapes with personal strengths and small weaknesses. I love analyzing each character by pulling out one’s physical optimum. Together, we try to work on a better version of yourself, instead of changing you completely.
7. How would you describe your own style?
Casual-chic, as I often wear smart-casual clothes like slim five-pocket-pants, blouse-style shirts with sweaters or blazers. I don’t need formal business clothing. I love patterns and unexpected colour harmonies. My outfits are based on basics mixed with one or two eye-catchers as striking pieces.
8. Do you have an own significant mark?
I never leave my house without wearing a flashy necklace, if real or fashion jewelry. I sometimes create one myself with the help of a goldsmith. I also like the mixture of fabrics and contrasts like hard and soft, for example leather in combination with fluffy knit. My wardrobe is full of patterned and fancy pieces, therefor I have less basics and plain pieces.
9. Has your style changed throughout the years?
Not much. I notice that I feel like dressing more chic and that I barely wear very casual clothes anymore. I wear more dresses, skirts and stand-away necklines. All in all, quality of fabrics and finish has become more important to me. Nice fabric on your skin can even be sensed as an embracement.
10. Where do you shop?
I love shopping when I’m travelling abroad or in new stores, because I think that alterity is exciting. Of course I also find one or another piece strolling through Frankfurt when I’m doing my store checks. It’s been three years now that I am travelling to Paris for their huge sales. You really find trendy things there and benefit from it for a long time here in Germany.
11. Do you have favorite fashion designers?
Etro and Marni are my favorites, since I am so much into patterns and vibrant colors. I like Haider Ackermann,too. He is creating drapes which are beautiful and casual at the same time. Frankfurt’s Albrecht Ollendiek presents stunning, soft leather designs. Though, those are all just impulses – not really my price range ;).
12. How big is your wardrobe?
Much smaller than many might think (ca. 2,50 meters). I am good at combining pieces and I am against buying entire outfits. When sticking with your style and world of colors it is easy to interblend. You always create various looks with the help of accessories and exceptional combinations of colours and fabrics. Sorting out periodically is self-evident to me.
13. What about shoes?
In this case, I am atypical for being a woman. I cannot understand the shoe hype as I only have about 25 pairs of shoes. My job requires me to be able to walk a lot – I would go down wearing high heels.
14. Do you follow trends? If so, which ones?
Only the ones that fit or enrich my own style. In seasons my favorite colours and cuts are in style, I buy more clothes; apart form that, I get inspired by new themes and combinations. All of a sudden I can even imagine myself wearing pieces I could have never thought of. You are getting used to some trends, due to the fact that you are surrounded by them everywhere. Other trends though, they never get me…
15. Do you believe in fashion principles?
Fashion nowadays is characterized by not having strict rules not longer. Many people are therefore uncertain. Being creative is nice but hard to do. Knowing at least the visual rules of colours and cuts that suits you, is of a big help – it makes the range a lot more manageable.
16. How much fashion do we need in our lives?
Just enough, so you can express yourself. To do that, you have to leave a margin to be able to steadily do new combinations (with only 5 pieces your possibilities are pretty limited). You shouldn’t mix up too many styles; this only leads to losing your own style. Also, you should not want to have too many clothes since this can cause overextension and weariness. Each one of us has to decide where the midpoint lies.
17. Your advice to your customers:
Fashion is a kind of ‘every-day-art‘. It enables you to experiment – to love it and to love yourself. ‘Colour is a tool and a play at the same time', says the Belgian fashion designer Dries van Noten. This applies for fashion itself. It is definitely okay to make a wrong choice; you can take it off after all. Though, never let it happen to be boring!
Thank you for taking the interview!
You'd like to learn more about my job? Then please open the following PDF's (unfortunately in german language):
Die Diplomatin: Als Personal Shopperin im Einsatz
(Kosmetik international Verlag, Seminar Spezial, Beitrag von Ulrike Zänger, Dezember 2014)
Sprache der Mode - was Kleidung über uns verrät...
(Arbeit für die Frankfurter Akademie für Kommunikation und Design, Jeanette Zahn, Februar 2011)
Tipps fürs Geschenke-Shopping
(Beitrag in der Myself, November 2011)
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My Personal Shopper
Phone: 069 / 26 91 38 83
Cell: 0171 / 4 21 74 56