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Ulli Kampelmann unveils her latest fashion fusion

Jul '09
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 lady's wardrobe.

Ulli Kampelmann Timepieces

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