Fate seriously intervened in order to bring together Nashville-born Johnny Talbot and Munich-born Adrian Runhof. When the two met, Talbot was an electrical engineer and his career took him from the Pentagon to Radio Free Europe and with a chance encounter he met Runhof, already working in fashion. It didn’t take long before the two began planning a fashion line. What started as a collection of cocktail and evening wear quickly expanded into a full range offering their customer sportswear and accessories. Talbot approaches his work in a methodical way, often applying his mathematical skill set to an idea. The results are the highly unique, and exquisitely cut and designed pieces that brand has become known for. Runhof maintains the brand image and marketing.
Johnny, I have to ask how working at the Pentagon led you to fashion design!
I completed my BE in engineering at Vanderbilt University and immediately moved to DC working as a government contractor in the Pentagon and the naval research center… I wasn’t very happy with my career choice so when I had the chance to move to Germany to work for Radio Free Europe, I jumped at it. It was the perfect distraction. But alas, after a year in THAT job, I realized that I need to make a radical change. I had met Adrian who was just finishing his first collection and thought to myself, “hum, that looks easy and fun.”
Have you both always been interested in fashion? What were your earliest fashion memories?
Johnny: I was raised in Nashville; my mom is a seamstress and used to sew for some country music singers – some who performed at the Grand Ole Opry – so I spent a good portion of my childhood at her feet or in a fabric store.
Adrian: My family had a clothing business which I wasn’t remotely interested in growing up. I wanted to do the opposite so I studied business at university but of course came back to it.
How did you two meet?
At 3am in Munich at a bar called NEW YORK.
Was developing a fashion line an early topic of conversation?
Johnny: I made my first collection about a year after meeting Adrian. I kind of kept it a secret because I didn’t want him to think I was imitating him, which in fact I was… My first collection was a very coherent, cute, sexy 60’s collection; it looked nothing like what Adrian was doing at the time. And I sold 100 pieces to Henri Bendel…I don’t think they sold a single piece.
“Going too far can be as bad as not going far enough” – this is part of your brand’s ethos – can you elaborate on it for us?
Another way to phrase it: “It’s all about knowing where to stop.” Good advice for clothes, styling, shoes, makeup. hair, accessories…
How does this also apply to your non-design life?
If you think about it, you can apply it to almost every aspect of your life. The way you nourish yourself, the way you exercise, the way you love, the way you select friends, manage your social media, show anger, rejoice…
Is the company based in Germany? Do you manufacture and produce there as well?
We are based in Munich and produce everything in Germany.
Do you present in Europe?
We show at Paris Fashion Week, and we also have showrooms in London, Milan, and Paris.
Your customer must be very dynamic as your brand includes many categories – did you anticipate this from the beginning or did your customer keep asking for more?
We are very accessible, approachable and very close to our customer. We began as a boutique so basically everything we learned, we learned from our customers. It is what sets us apart from many other designers.
After so many years of working together, is there anything that still surprises you about the other?
We have been working together since 1992… 23 years now. We are constantly changing and evolving (also on a private and personal level) so the surprises keep on coming. It never gets boring…