Thursday, July 9, 2009

Ulli Kampelmann Unveils Her Latest Fashion Fusion - (Click on picture to read Fashion News blog)

In 1976, still emboldened by her successful escape from oppressive East Germany the year before, designer and artist Ulli Kampelmann concocted a wild scheme to sneak back in to spend Christmas with her Mom and two brothers.

At dawn on Christmas morning that year more than three decades ago, Ulli and her boyfriend Klaus approached Checkpoint Charlie, the border between East and West in Berlin. Not only were they risking the wrath of the border guards if the two pair of smuggled Levi’s were discovered in the bag of Christmas gifts intended for Ulli’s brothers, the couple were truly gambling with their lives. As an escapee, Ulli was a fugitive from the Stasi, the Gestapo-like secret police, and Klaus, by aiding and abetting this “enemy of the state”, would have been immediately imprisoned had his role been revealed.

Just two months before, Ulli chanced upon Annette Kluge, a well-known actress from the GRIPS-THEATER in West Berlin. Annette and Ulli could easily be twins. Once Ulli described her gambit, Annette gladly lent her best-wishes as well as her West German passport to this outrageous escapade.

Despite their swinish suspicion while comparing Ulli to the photo displayed in Annette’s passport, the border guards finally accepted the credentials and waved Ulli and Klaus on in to East Berlin.

Needless to say, Ulli’s family was staggered by her audacity and delighted with the delicacies and other scarce or impossible to obtain items with which the couple were laden. The brothers were overjoyed with their new Levi’s; Mom was content just to bathe in the warm glow of her reunited family. Ulli reveled in the feeling of friendship and freedom - the freedom she would have to win again before the night was through when she escaped again into West Berlin.

Due to the circumstances of her upbringing, blue jeans in general and Levi’s in particular embody the concept of freedom found only in America.

Today, Ulli is living and working in the USA, designing her incomparable timepieces. Her most recent homage to this significant symbol of freedom is her Jeans Pocket Watch, in itself a play on words. Designed to look like the back pocket of a pair of blue jeans, this pocket watch and chain is intended to be worn clipped to the belt loop of a pair of jeans; ideally, the very jeans Ulli herself designed to be sold in combination with this uniquely-designed watch. Her Pocket-Watch Jeans: sporting a printed chain on the hip, ankle zippers, a red belt patch with the Kampelmann family coat of arms and her now famous “Ulli” signature on the right hip pocket, these jeans in themselves are a stylish addition to any ladies wardrobe. Visit and you will agree with Pia, a fashionista working for Chanel, "Ulli, your jeans and pocket watch combination are magnificent! This is art and fashion par excellence!"

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


It’s 1975. Ulli is curled up in the trunk of her boyfriend’s Renault, escaping from communist East Germany; escaping to freedom in West Berlin.

Despite the drone of the engine still she can hear the tick tick tick of the watch which Klaus gave her as he convinced her to come home with him to West Berlin, “Ulli, it’s time to be free!”

Her thoughts drift back to her childhood; a time when she would sit quietly in her Dad’s workshop, watching him work the metal and she, holding his big pocket watch, comparing her sense of passing time with what the watch displayed. A game she plays again, huddled for so long in the dark trunk, trying to ignore her heartbreak over leaving her family, her friends and her home, trying to ignore the pervasive terror of being caught and losing it all. But her yearning for a life without restrictions was strong.

Ulli would never again live where limitless travel was a pipe-dream and where her curiosity was blunted at every turn. In East Germany she had no chance to appreciate artworks by Dali or other modern artists, where it was impossible to buy rock ‘n’ roll music and she had no chance to buy blue jeans. Jeans were the symbol of rebellion and freedom. But, Ulli had luck. After three grueling hours in the cramped darkness, she emerged filled with a mixture of jubilation and sorrow.

Many years later, Ulli became a successful modern artist in Europe. Once she moved to the USA, she immediately bought a pair of real blue jeans in a Levi Strauss store. Most recently she founded Ulli Kampelmann Timepieces. (

Her newest collection is homage to these early hard times. She calls it her Jeans Watch collection. The highlight of this collection is a Jeans Pocket Watch sold in combination with a stylish pair of blue jeans of her own design. Be a part of it. Come visit with Ulli at Enjoy!