Berlin / Paris

Bless Verythings

Poetic and eccentric design duo

There is a man at Berlin’s Alexanderplatz wearing panda-bear print shorts. Chain mail dangles delicately in front of his eyes. They appear to be sunglasses, but can he really see anything? He’s an adorable enigma, and I want to look just like him. He looks good but also out of this world.

He’s wearing Bless.

Bless-wearer Etienne Descloux at Alexanderplatz, Berlin. (T-shirt produced by the art fair in Berlin, reading "ABC" in Arabic, with profits donated to refugees via Moabit Hilft.) 
Photo: April von Stauffenberg.

As poets of paradox, makers of remarkable things, the two fashion bards—Desiree Heiss and Ines Kaag—who go under the name of Bless, often yoke two functions into one.

One could say that Bless is a maker of those Verythings (to cite a collection) we never realized were possible.

Like a vacuum cleaner that looks good.

Which is not to mislead you. Bless makes, after all, primarily clothes, and it’s no exaggeration to say that they make the very best scarves in the world.

About those scarves I had always wanted but could never afford: How often did I see them, cropping up in the Berlin art scene or on the streets of the Marais, and look wistfully at its wearer? You lucky dog, you blessed soul. Warmth and flair. I was bent on having one. (Only a fool, I finally reasoned, would spend money on umpteen closet-stuffing things when one single Bless thing would make any ordinary outfit extra-ordinary.)

The heady designs of Bless are rooted to the earth by language, in the compounded names they coin for each collection like Artistcare or Nothingneath, New Sheheit or Ohyescoolgreat.

One of my favorites of their poetic collection titles is the Frustverderber. You have to be able to read German to understand that, but I will break it down for you. Frust means frustration and verderber means s/he who spoils or ruins. So what do you get? Someone who ruins frustration. The opposite, that is, of a spoilsport. This is Bless (and bless them for it): They are the ruiners of frustration.

Their friendship bloomed in Paris when they were placed next to each other at a student’s exhibition (in 1993) and later flourished over postcards sent between Vienna and Hannover while they were still in school. Desiree was in Vienna studying with Vivienne Westwood and Helmut Lang whilst Ines was in no-man’s land Hannover wishing she were in Hamburg.

The first thing they made together was a Sun Top: a tubetop made of see-through gauze, a wraparound bandage that looked positively couture. From the get-go, the things that Bless has made, and those things are few, you have to dare to wear. You have to be willing to be at the forefront.

They were doing “chunky” sweaters at least a decade before “chunky” sweaters became an idea. Not before Breathless Jean Seberg, of course, but before they became prêt-à-porter many moons later. And if matchy-matchy is your thing, to top off the chunky top, they made a chunky bottom: unfathomable ankle boots that looked like grandma’s hand-knit sweaters. (Rainproof they are not, but frustration spoilers they are!)

This is not to say that they are always breaking the rules. They have boringly beautiful clothes too. A Prince Charles blazer, a camel coat, and pairs and pairs of jeans. I am currently eyeing their men’s cut lady button-up shirts and wishing I had … eight. (An extra in case I’m eating spaghetti Bolognese.)

But Bless is not only the maker of things useful, they also create needs where there once were none. Since when did a shoe need a Shoe Escort? And that hammock called Climate Confusion Assistance? It’s a hammock for winter climes and lined with precious silver fox. No home in the Northern Hemisphere should be without one. A Bless Hairbrush is just that: a real “hair” brush that is rendered as useless as a Wooden Coca-Cola Bottle (incidentally, also an item of Bless’s Found Objects series).

At times, they take the unofficial second use of any object and make it its first. Bless Coiffglasses or (the aforementioned) Duofringeglasses make the best hair accessories around. They eliminate the need for hairbands (except, of course, if you are in downward dog). Never before has medieval chain mail looked so benign nor been so soothing for the undereyes. Never before have sunglasses imitated a light summer rain!

The oxymoron of a “full-body accessory.” They’ve done that too.

Or an article of clothing with pearls sewed onto the elbows to teach you manners: no elbows on the table please, and if and when you do so, it hurts!

And then there’s the practical side: a shirt that is also a shopping bag, a compound noun pile-up, a Shopperbagtop. A vacuum cleaner, again, to bring up that prettified unprettifiable, that is housed inside a lovely table or chair on wheels!

And that Bless Shopping Head? A hat with two shopping bags attached where you might have imagined a beagle’s long ears. It’s every new mother’s wet dream. Whoever thought you could breastfeed and shop at the same time?

As the eliminators of excess, they have even given over authorship to their clients, who can request exclusive pieces or great giveaways to potential clients who agree to a videotaped “plea” as to the whys and wherefores they want any particular item. The results are hilarious. From the woman who likes the sweater because it matches her hair, to the fellow who loves everything Bless because their Verythings are what he deems “mystical talismans.”

Alas, any man, woman or child who wears a New Sheheit furball hoodie has got to have a sense of humor. If anything, and this one can say about everything Bless makes. Talismans of a certain frame of mind, yes. Bless is a poet, a magician, and, ok, whatwasitagain, fashion designers, and oh yes, the fire extinguishers of frustration.


14 rue Portefoin, 75003 Paris, France

Open from Tuesday to Friday, 2:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m., Saturday, 12:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m.

T +33 1 48 01 67 43


Oderberger Strasse 60, rear building/3rd floor, 10435 Berlin (Prenzlauer Berg), Germany

Open from Wednesday to Friday, 5:00 p.m.–8:00 p.m., Saturday, 11:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m., and by appointment

T +49 30 27 59 65 66