Month: October 2015

The Berlin dress code

Berlin may be famous for its tolerance, but when it comes to fashion, the rules are strict – and vary by neighborhood. Metropolitan chic in the German capital is a much more complicated style guide than you might think.

Dog, style, hat, street style, Berlin

@bonjourberlin

“I don’t know what to wear,” a friend of mine lamented when we were invited to a party in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district. I had the same problem. In fact, this is everyone’s dilemma in this city.

It may sound like a perfectly normal situation for any fashion addict before going out, but she was absolutely right. If you go to a bar in Kreuzberg, your outfit should not look like something you would wear in Charlottenburg.

On Planet Berlin, the fashion laws are strict and well-defined. Rule number one: Each district has its particular style. Rule number two: You have to stand out, whether your outfit is fancy or trashy. But be careful, because the perfect fancy/trashy combo can only be achieved by a real connoisseur.

Walking design

I saw one of those connoisseurs at the Alexanderplatz metro station the other day. He was wearing a classic suit, black slim tie, sneakers, hat, holding a leather bag, had a goatee and a sizeable ring in his nose, and was nonchalantly reading an economic daily.

The epitome of paradox. He must work for one of the city’s thousands of design firms, I thought.

More than 12,000 Berliners work in fashion, design, architecture and visual arts, according to UNESCO. Obviously, the creative ones can’t afford to inspire others, while having an uninspiring look themselves, right?

The further east you go in Berlin, the crazier it gets. Although people say that the extravagance is slowly conquering the western side of town, too. The guy from Alexanderplatz is most likely a resident of the Mitte district in the city center – an East/West blend.

In Berlin, be fancy or trashy – but be something

The woman wearing ripped purple tights, boots that look like her grandma’s and three layered blouses in three different shades is not color-blind – she knows exactly what to wear to fit in.

And she probably lives in the central-eastern district of Prenzlauer Berg, because you would never see such a combination in Zehlendorf, for instance. And vice-versa: You won’t spot anyone in Kreuzberg showing off Christian Louboutin pumps. But in the central Mitte district, everything is possible and anything goes.

Past is always present

Berlin also has a conspicuous penchant for second-hand. Used shoes from the 1950s are more fashionable here than in practically any other city on earth. In fact, they’re so treasured, that they sometimes cost much more than new shoes.

No wonder that one of the well-known vintage stores in the German capital chose to call itself “Made in Berlin.” A closer look between the stuffed racks might lead you to 40-year-old Burberry coats worn by some bygone celebrity, a Lacoste T-shirt that reminds you of Tom Hanks in “Forest Gump,” or another well-hidden secret of fashion paradise.

A few weeks ago, I met up with a rock singer I know from university. “I’m having a concert tonight and I need a second-hand suit,” he told me. “Why second-hand?” I asked. “Well, because it wouldn’t be cool to wear brand new things,” he replied. Case in point.

A few years ago, I wouldn’t have understood this mentality. But now, after my long-time relationship with Berlin, I do. And I like it.

Those who know Berlin can’t deny that it oozes decadent romanticism. Sometimes you find it in a run-down building that serves as art gallery, sometimes in a Sunday brunch at a former factory. But it often hides where you expect it less – in a pair of shoes, in a vintage belt from Dior that hugged many waists, or in a Burberry coat, discovered at a flea market and shamelessly paired with H&M accessories.

Berlin is a paradox in any respect. And that’s exactly what I love about it.

Previously published on www.dw.com/english

Dating Berlin. An introduction to madness.

bonjourberlin

Most of the people I know in Berlin are no Berliners. And that’s not because I dislike the locals, but because it’s rather difficult to find them. My city is the city of everyone.

Berlin, Get lost, Dating Berlin

It was one of those perfect early weekend mornings, when you get out of the club and can smell the fresh air again. I opted to walk home, even though it took an eternity, instead of calling a cab or waiting for the subway. That was the moment when I started dating my city.

Berlin is mean. Every encounter is a new experience and, once trapped, you never want to leave again. I didn’t find a crumbling Colosseum on my way that morning, neither did I see an Eiffel Tower, or anything else that impresses at first glance. Instead, the smell of the cafes still open at 5 am, tired ravers ordering the famous after-party Berliner…

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Happy Sundays in Berlin

Mauerpark, flea market, berlin, karaoke, chilling out

The flea market at Mauerpark has become a cult in Berlin. But besides a multitude of stalls, which offer anything you can imagine and beyond, karaoke, street music, sports, food & drinks, grilling or just chilling out in the sun make this place a hotspot for thousands of Berliners. It’s called Mauerpark because it is located right on the former “death strip” of the Berlin Wall. A 300-meter-long section of the wall has been preserved as monument.

You can stroll along the flea market on Bernauer Str. 63-64 every Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm. Nevertheless, the party usually goes on after the closing hour, especially in summer and it’s a must-see for every newcomer to Berlin.

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Designer Julia Linn fell in love with Berlin(n)

Julia Linn is a young Swedish entrepreneur, designer and blogger, whose post about Berlin intrigued me so much, that I felt I needed to know more of how a Scandinavian sees my city. She replied immediately, so we had this pleasant conversation about Berlin’s remarkable ability to… sneak under one’s skin.

Julia Linn, designer, Berlin, Stockholm

@Julia Linn

BB: Julia, the first thing we apparently have in common is the love for Berlin (the second being that I’m also a Sweden fan). You described your relationship with this city as a “love affair”, exactly like I did on my blog. Could you please briefly tell me about the things you like most about Berlin?

JL: Berlin was a surprising crush, it was actually like falling in love for real, you thought someone/something was completely different but once you get to know it you just can’t get enough of it. That is how I feel for the moment and I only got the chance to explore it during a long weekend. But the thing I like the most is the open-minded attitude, the priceworthy and delicious food, the laid back street styles, the gorgeous architecture (both old/modern), the cool bars and the street art of course!

BB: What comes to my mind when I try to describe Berlin is… freedom. You can be whoever you want and do whatever you feel like, dress like an elephant and nobody would notice. What are your thoughts on that?

JL: That was the thing I fell the most for, I felt so free. It was no judgemental looks or bad attitude. Everyone was open, nice and seemed to be curious about life!

BB: Was this your first encounter with Berlin? What drew you to this “crazy planet”?

JL: Yes it was my first time in Berlin and my partner took me to the city.  He just bought an apartment there and we were there to check it out and will be back soon to decorate it, super excited!

Julia Linn, designer, Berlin, Stockholm

BB: Since you’re a designer, what do you think about the Berlin fashion? A few fashion people I interviewed thought that you have to be quite innovative in order to fit in as a designer in Berlin. 

JL: Berlin fashion is definitely something different and unique but I’m really into it and find a lot of inspiration from it as a designer. I love how they play around with shape, volume and textures! I guess the designs really reflect the city! I also do believe that you have to get into the vibe in Berlin to fit in as a designer but I do think that every designer has to be innovative no matter what city you are in.

BB: Was it easy for you to get on with English here?

JL: It went pretty good, but I was lucky that my partner understands German.

BB: Which was your favourite restaurant / cafe and where would you advise people to go out at night?

JL: I really liked the restaurants and cafes around Rosenthaler Platz, like Amano (love great views), Grand Cafe (cause I love sitting in big windows) and Transit (cause I love Asian food). I’m also into Soho House Berlin, just the name makes me love it! We didn’t have time to go out, which I have to do next time, because I have heard it’s amazing. I’ve been recommended to check out Berghain at the weekend!

BB: You said that “Berlin does breakfast like no other city in the world…“. I completely agree on that. Could you please elaborate? One thing I love is that in most places you can have brunch until 4pm!

JL: Yes, I love when I can have a big breakfast / brunch pretty late during a weekend and also a price worthy one, so Berlin was perfect, especially the Mitte area, I really liked our hotel breakfast at Tryp in Mitte. Barcomi`s is a place I have to try next time!

BB: They say Berlin has the most efficient public transportation in Europe. Was it easy for you to commute?

JL: It looked pretty easy to get around, but I have to admit that I haven’t tried it yet, but walking and taxi worked perfect :)!

Julia Linn, designer, Berlin, Stockholm

@Julia Linn

BB: Berlin is still known for its affordable prices in comparison with other European metropolises. You don’t have to dig too deep into your pockets to spend a week here, right? It’s definitely much cheaper than Stockholm, that I know for sure! 

JL: Yes much cheaper and still better quality than Stockholm and also other European metropolises, especially when it comes to food and service!

BB: You know, I have a few friends who after first visiting Berlin decided to move and live here for good. Could you imagine becoming a Berliner? After all, you even have a predestined name:-)

JL: Yes, absolutely:)

BB: Julia, thank you for this great dialogue and I can assure you that Berlin will be waiting for you with all kinds of surprises. This is what still strikes me about Berlin: regardless of how long you’ve lived here and how well you know the city, there will always be something new… just around the corner.

THE COOLEST SONGS ABOUT BERLIN

Berlin has been a true inspiration for artists all over the world. A real muse! Here are the coolest songs ever written for Berlin.

David Bowie, Heroes

U2, Zoo Station

Pink Floyd, A Great Day for Freedom

Iggy Pop, The Passenger

David Bowie, Where Are We Now

Peter Fox, Schwarz zu Blau

Leonard Cohen, First We Take Manhattan

Lou Reed, Berlin

The Ramones, Born to Die in Berlin

Do you know any other cool songs dedicated to Berlin? Let me know!