It all began in 2014 at a vintage furniture fair in Berlin. Nina Kuhn and Rianna Nektaria Kounou were the only two wearing vibrant colours in a sea of black, and immediately a bond was born. Now as the designers behind one-of-a-kind fashion line Rianna + Nina, the two create clothing and accessories made from sourced vintage fabrics. They’re the ultimate treasure-hunters: Rianna, originally from Athens, Greece, owns a vintage clothing store, while Nina, born in Berlin, is a former marketing exec for French department store Galeries Lafayette. Their roots extend all over Europe, making for the perfect pairing to provide pieces with the ultimate “where’d you get that?” cachet.
Now making their first foray to the United States with a limited-edition pop-up in New York’s Bergdorf Goodman department store, we caught up with the impossibly chic designers to learn more about their business, how they source such remarkable pieces, and, of course, their beauty routines.
What led you to start your brand? Where do you get your inspiration for the pieces you create?
Nina: Starting a label together was a natural process that somehow felt right. I met Rianna on a vintage furniture fair. I noticed her because she was the only one—besides me—that was dressed in colours from head to toe. We immediately felt it was a serendipitous moment, and a few months and many Greek dinners at Rianna’s home later, we’ve opened a small boutique in Berlin. We both love vintage fabrics and special prints and wanted to present our colourful world to our clients.
Rianna: We make extraordinary pieces for people who love to be different and are looking for something that not everybody has. When you love vibrant colours, adore beautiful fabrics and are passionate about vintage, a Rianna + Nina piece can make you very happy.
You source one-of-a-kind fabrics from all over the world. Where do you go to look for them? How do you determine whether something will make the cut?
Rianna: My family has always dealt in vintage fabrics, brocade and lace. So, I somehow grew up with a feeling for those rare finds. And even though I’ve been doing it for so many years now, my heart still jumps when hunting for those beautiful finds all around the globe!
Nina: If something catches our hearts, we have to make something out of it. Sometimes we love our one-of-a-kind creations so much that it’s hard to sell them! When we see a kimono or a dress we are totally in love with, we have to let it go and know there will never be the same piece twice. But this is also what makes our work so special and excites us every day.
No matter what you wear or how you’re feeling, put some colour on your lips, and you’ll be instantly ready for all adventures.
What does fashion—or being fashionable—mean to you? How would you define your personal style?
Nina: Fashion is our playground! We love having fun with different colour combinations or mixing special patterns.
Rianna: We love surprising our clients (and ourselves!) with our designs. Everything is possible as long you wear it with confidence and your head held high. That’s what differentiates us from so many others in Germany, where fashion design is often more about being understated.
What is your creative process like?
Rianna: We come from totally different backgrounds, which is very helpful, since we complement each other perfectly. We make the big decisions always together, but we also have a lot of trust in each other. I am mostly involved in the designing process, sourcing all of the fabrics and sometimes even waking up with new ideas for our special pieces.
Nina: And I am more into the business side, with marketing, PR and sales. However, most important is to think in the same direction and work hand in hand.
The pieces you create are so colourful—do you ever find yourself matching your makeup to your outfits? Do you have a favourite colour you love to wear, either in your clothes or your makeup?
Nina: We just love playing with colour, not only in fashion, but also with our makeup. We both especially have a passion for lipstick! No matter what you wear or how you’re feeling, put some colour on your lips, and you’ll be instantly ready for all adventures.
What are some of the beauty products you can’t live without?
Rianna: I love red lipstick. It is so easy to wear and such a classic, and it fits with every look and moment.
Nina: Mascara is the most important part of my everyday routine. I also love Advanced Night Repair—I do a ton of travel, and this is my secret to landing fresh every time!
What is next for you both?
Rianna: There are so many exciting things to come! After our pop-up in Bergdorf Goodman, we are launching our first-ever print collection for Spring-Summer ’18, with all of the prints designed by us. And of course we’ll still have our one-of-a-kind pieces.
Nina: And in general, we keep following our passion and seeing where our colorful journey brings us next.