Jen Gilpin & Merle Winter, Designers


Emily: How did you two meet?

Jen Gilpin [Left]: We were looking for a model for my lookbook and my boyfriend, Maxime, took a photo of Merle at a party and and came back right away and showed me and was like, ‘This girl has amazing eyes and we have to find her!’ and then we actually tracked her down [laughs] and asked her for the shoot, and then we started doing a bunch of shoots together and had a lot fun and became friends. That was two years ago. I do the line, Don’t Shoot the Messenger. It’s a clothing line, we do a lot of leather and silk and it’s very black. It’s based here, in Berlin. I’m from Canada. I’ve been here four years now. I really like the lifestyle. It’s still a very international city because so many creatives come here from all around the world, but it’s still medium-sized; it’s not a huge city. It’s really nice.

Merle Winter [Right]: I’m from Hamburg, from a small village near there and I came here three and a half years ago to study fashion design. I just finished my studies. I want to start my own label. I will start with scarves with a digital print. I went to HTW, University of Applied Sciences. People sometimes say that I’m very German, that I look German. I don’t know. The style in Berlin, it’s hard to say.

Jen: It can range all over the place. But, it’s not as dressed up or chic as places like Paris or something like that. Everyone sort of dresses to their own will. It’s not trying to follow something specific. People don’t really go as crazy as other cities. Sometimes with crazy parties—

Merle: Dressing up crazy…

Jen: But it’s not, sort of, a stigma. It not people checking your outfit out on the street.

Emily: You look like sisters, have people told you that before?

Jen: Yeah, we’ve gotten that before. I always get asked if it’s me in the lookbooks. And I’m like, ‘No!’

Merle: People have asked if we’re a lesbian couple. Someone saw some photos of us on Purple Diary and asked if we wanted to model for The Kooples. We would have pretended, but they said, ‘No, sorry, we want a real lesbian couple.'

Emily: What lipstick are you wearing? It’s great.

Merle: My lipstick is a pink one with a unicorn on it—Retrofuturist by Lime Crime. My flat-mate gave it to me as a birthday present. She ordered it on the internet; it’s a vegan lipstick made in the USA. It stays super long…it’s crazy. It’s really the best. It’s not designed to be a super long-lasting kind of type, but it stains.

Jen: Mine is the MAC Russian Red. Otherwise, I often wear this Maybelline kind, Super Stay 24 Hour Color, and it stays forever. We call it ‘Forever Clown’ because you can wear it out all night and in the morning you still have it on. [Laughs] I don’t wear red lipstick everyday but if I do wear lipstick, it’s definitely this color red. I use a lot MAC makeup, actually. I do MAC Select Cover-Up concealer and then mascara and that’s it. I sort of go through different kinds of mascara, right now I’m using a Maybelline one that’s called High Heels, from the pharmacy. It’s pretty good. I used to wear more makeup, but, actually, starting to date Maxime and him taking photos of me all the time, he said that it’s always better when I just have a bit of concealer and mascara.

Merle: I use a concealer mostly—I use MAC Studio Finish—but sometimes I’ll do lipstick, some mascara, some eye shadow. I mostly wear red nail polish. Sometimes darker red, something this kind of red. I paint my own nails. For eyeliner, I like P2 Dip Eyeliner Waterproof. It’s a liquid. I like a smokey eye too; when I do it, I’ll use a little black shadow and smoke it out. I don’t pencil in my eyebrows; once a month maybe. I’m naturally blonde.

Jen: Me, no. [laughs]

Merle: My hair is not colored at all. I’m not experimenting with my hair, I like the color and I’m a little afraid I won’t be able to go back to it. I use a Dove conditioner and some L’Oréal Elvital conditioner spray sometimes. I have my products and when they are empty I get new ones. I’m not very specific about brands. I mean, I try it out and if it’s working then I use it again. I mean, my MAC concealer, I never wear anything else because I really like it and then some lipsticks. I have some moisturizers and some creams. I have a lot, actually. I’m using them and mixing. I keep buying stuff. I just see something and then buy it and get a new one. Right now, my favorites are Emosie Face by Hildegard Braukmann, night cream by CareloveNachtcreme Olive by Alverde, Intensiv + Repair Pflegecreme Avocado…I am just realizing, I am really into natural cosmetics.

Jen: I use La Roche-Posay Toleriane or Effaclar cleanser. Sometimes Toleriane is really drying so I switch back and forth between those two. For moisturizer, I use Physiane, from the same brand. My skin is really sensitive and I find La Roche-Posay has the least amount of additives. I went through a lot of different things before I found it. I used to go to the hair dresser to get the roots done, and then one day I tried to do it by myself, with a box at home, and I found that the roots were more even, so now I just do it at home. I’ve been trying a few different ones, but the L’Oréal one is pretty good. I’m surprised it’s still alive and healthy. Since I moved to Germany, there is this one hair brand that I really like—Gliss Kur by Schwarzkopf. It’s just from the drug store. I like that, the products are really soft. When I moved to Berlin I actually had a black bob so this hair has gone through a lot. I’ve changed looks a lot over the years—I’ve gone through a lot of different things—but right now I want something kind of classic and clean. I’ve had every different color hair. Every different length. I had a shaved head when I was younger.

Jen Gilpin & Merle Winter photographed by Emily Weiss on June 5th 2012 outside the Don’t Shoot The Messenger boutique in Mitte, Berlin. Jen is wearing Don’t Shoot The Messenger. Merle is wearing a black Don’t Shoot The Messenger leather jacket (worn underneath) and a navy COS coat.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Anonymous

    They are too cute together - Both lovely and bright and entertaining - A joy to read!

  • Topsy

    So nice to see something from Germany!

  • Miss K

    I love their hair!

  • Marie-Thérèse | Flora’s Box

    Vienna Up next? Greets from Austria, MT

  • elise

    Yes, WHY do people see women with the same hair color and think they are sisters?! it's so moronic. My sisters have hair nothing like mine but we have the same shape of our eyes. I always think this is a guy's pickup line- Oh are you two sisters? bleh!
    Anyway, I am still trying to figure out why I am so intrigued by products people use when I just saw them for the first time when they are featured here. It's very funny/exasperating to me! These two seem fun to spend time with. Which reminds me, Emily, I saw the photo with you and Rumi Neely of FashionToast. You didn't happen to have any conversations regarding her top shelf.... did you ? hee hee

  • Kitchen afternoon

    lovely girls, great outyerwear, and Berlin has not yet been as homogenized as so many other cities! Minimal make up with bright nails a great touch!

  • Bonnie Clyde
  • Holly

    Lovely interview! What are they doing in the first two pictures? I've been staring at them for five minutes and, for the life of me, cannot tell...

  • Anonymous

    Love the look these two girls have. But you know what? after living all my adult life in France, I'd say their style is pretty much the same as that of chic French women. Neutral colour clothing in great natural fabrics, and the trick of either concentrating on a chic red pout, or on smokey eyes, but never the two together. I love to base my wardrobe around neutrals as they do, and add a pop of contrast either with my red lipstick (I actually use Guerlain's Rouge G, cos I'm a sucker for luxury packaging(!)), and a touch of Noir G mascara. If I'm feeling more sultry, I choose the smokey-eye option, but leave my lips bare. In that case I try to add a splash of bright colour to my basic black/grey/navy/camel clothes palette with a scarf. Thanks for the lovely photos, and some great skin and hair-care product recommendations, ladies! Jenny, x

  • M Arielle

    They were playing with the sparkling stripes!! Needed 10 minutes to figure this out, hehe..

    Great feature about Berlin girls!! Wunderschön!

  • H-fashion

    Love the looks, and they look so close.

  • HollyGolightly

    I'd love to know what at home L’Oréal color she uses. What L’Oréal box? What color? More info please! Beautiful hair!