Royal Bavarian Design

Johnny Talbot and Adrian Runhof are making world-class fashion right here in Munich.

Anyone looking for something for those special moments in life is sure to find it at Talbot Runhof — from a fancy blouse for a first date to a glamorous dress for The Oscars. COMPANION visited the designer duo in their royal boutique at the Palais Preysing. 
Johnny Talbot finds himself comfortably settled in a lemony-yellow velvet chair with a fashion magazine in hand. The slender forty-something gentleman leisurely and quietly leafs through the pages while occasionally scanning the room with a keen eye. His attention is focused on the conversation his business partner, Adrian Runhof, is having with a customer. The young woman will soon celebrate her 30th birthday and is still looking for something special: an exciting top or a fancy skirt.

The two of them are standing in front of a gilded coat hanger with a selection of classy dresses from the current winter collection. Again and again, a piece is selected as Adrian passionately points out details such as the unusual cut or a particularly luxurious texture. With Johnny and Adrian, the customer is in good hands. Here, in the Munich-based boutique of Talbot Runhof, customers come with a plan in mind. “It could be the Viennese Opera Ball or The Oscars ceremony. But also for a nice dinner with girlfriends or the first meeting with a Tinder date,” says Adrian, who has been molding international fashion with Johnny right here in Munich for the last 25 years. Situated in the chic Palais Preysing in the middle of the lively Theatinerstraße, a visit to the prestigious flagship store is in and of itself a special occasion. With its contemporary chandeliers, lavender-colored walls, and inviting upholstered furniture, it looks like a modern palace.It’s the right stage for their glamorously modern fashion.

Lovingly draped tops hang next to glowing orange cocktail dresses and, of course, the opulent evening gowns for which Johnny and Adrian have become famous. And that’s really how it happened: when Talbot Runhof were still wet behind the ears, one day a lady passed by on her bicycle and asked where to find a chic dress for a large German event. Only afterwards did it come to light that it was the actress Maria Furtwängler, who needed an outfit for the Bambi Awards — and in her new garb she strode over the red carpet, thereby laying the foundation for Talbot Runhof’s red carpet career. Johnny, an American from the Southern States who had only just arrived in Munich, simply didn’t recognize the celebrity. It was the 90s, that era of beautiful actresses, singers, and supermodels in which a photo of a celebrity in a dress served as a blueprint for the success of a fashion house. Whether it is The Oscars, Bambis, Grammys, Cannes, or Bayreuth festivals, Talbot Runhof gowns are always at the forefront. Local stars such as Eva Padberg, Iris Berben, Veronica Ferres, and Barbara Schöneberger swear by them, as does the Oscar award winner Helen Mirren and young international VIP’s like Kristen Stewart, Alessandra Ambrosio, Gigi Hadid, and Kendall Jenner. “Glamor is easy for us, it’s always been that way,” Adrian says with a shrug. That’s perhaps because the designers have always been surrounded by it. Johnny’s mother designed stage costumes in the 70s for country stars like Dolly Parton, and Adrian’s parents ran a fashion shop in Wiesbaden at that time, which also catered to evening wear. But that’s not what directly motivates them to make fashion — both are self-taught and for a long time only vaguely dreamt of it. Adrian initially studied business administration, while Johnny worked as an engineer for the US Department of Defense programming rockets in top secret departments. They met each other quite by chance on the dance floor of a Munich club and one thing led to another. For Talbot Runhof, “glamor” has never meant the same as glittery “bling bling.” “This glamor of the 90s, as it was when it was immersed in the glitterati of Munich, it just doesn’t exist in the same way today,” says Adrian. “The parvenu-like crowd was off to Berlin at that time. The capital has now grown up, too. But Munich has completely shed its skin. There’s no shortage of young creatives and artists in the city on the Isar now. There’s even a start-up scene. The city is cool now.” The duo has also observed the changing urban landscape in the changing needs of its customers. And not just in Munich, that is. The zeitgeist has changed in general. Today, Adrian finds that it’s more important to understand events as an “authentic continuation of everyday lifestyle. It’s important not to look as if you were dressed for a costume party for every occasion.” Many of Talbot Runhof’s customers are no longer searching for a finished look, but for exciting items that they can combine however they want as well. In the winter collection, there’s a top consisting of many sculptural jewelry elements through which the wearer’s skin is visible in a subtle and sexy way. “Tattered jeans go perfectly with it,” says Adrian. Nevertheless, many women are still surprised when they see another wearer of one of Talbot Runhof’s more fashionable pieces. “It’s a rumor that we exclusively design evening gowns,” says Johnny. They countered this by staging a runway show twice a year as part of Paris Fashion Week, to which important international press representatives, celebrities, and loyal customers are invited. “For the catwalk, we like to extravagantly combine pieces to show what’s possible within our brand. There’s even a shaggy wool sweater over a shining brocade dress,” Adrian says with a laugh. In addition, they’re more and more focused on their own stores in the German market. Talbot Runhof is internationally renowned in the best stores, in luxury boutiques in England, Austria, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. And that includes relevant addresses such as Bergdorf Goodman in New York, Harvey Nichols in London, and Bloomingdale’s in Dubai. However, they prefer the more classic dresses from the respective collection. Their own boutiques also serve this purpose. In them, the brand image can be controlled by the heart’s whims. As a result, they opened shops in Berlin and Düsseldorf last year. In Munich, they already opened their 300-square-meter flagship store on Theatinerstraße in 2015. Go where the customer is — for Talbot Runhof, that’s not a bad idea. There are plenty of women among their customers who have become true friends of the fashion house over the years. People appreciate a little chat with the designers while they continue to shop. In the Munich boutique, the young customer looks like an old friend even though she’s in the shop for the first time. Johnny and Adrian are “designers made to touch” — friendly types. Adrian says, “We try to be in the shops as often as possible. What the customers value most is personal commitment — and having a knack for making the right recommendation.” 

Talbot Runhof’s Munich Tips 

There are some good fashion shops for men in Munich, like the concept store Stereo Muc in the middle of Residenzstraße right in the heart of the city, which has its own café on the first floor. 

In the studio of Klaus Lohmeyer, his romantic, industrial gold and silver jewelry, which he designs for his label Werkstatt München, is still forged with traditional techniques. 

A true cabinet of miracles can be found at Ickstattstraße 3A. From lovingly painted porcelain to vintage furniture and old paintings, at Mistinguett you can always find new art deco treasures. 

Saskia Diez is famous for her filigree jewelry. In her shop, the Münchner showcases her bags, perfumes, sunglasses, and nail polishes. 

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