“Ich bin ein Berliner!” Everybody knows this sentence. Nobody knows what it means. What it means to be a “Berliner”. A tiny capital compared to the other players. An immense history in the midst of several political movements, separation, isolation, reunification… A connection point for international artists. A commune for LGBT. An oasis for start-ups, a desert for the industry. Dirty flirty, but green. When we as Berliners are asked by tourists: “Where is the centre?” The only truthful, yet annoying answer we can give, is a pointing in all cardinal directions, asking back: “Which one?”
Why? Well, history played its tools, built a wall, and crumbled it. Out of two, or rather four, make one. Leaving as leftovers: many centres that have evolved over time. Each of them marked by its own definition of a “Berliner”, its own unique flair, its own dominating lifestyle, its own face, and consequently its own sense of fashion. So we are going to take you on a little walk through our Berlin (missing many centres, ‘cause we don’t want to write a book) but we will amble along some of its districts, take a breath here, run along in others and let our protagonist, the fashion, tell the story…
A bubble around a hill covered with the for Berlin typical old classic antiquated buildings that was barely touched by the war. Consequently not much has changed. The air the mostly young cocooning “Bionade-Biedermeiers” inhale is still the same: consciousness. Conscious life, conscious food, conscious fashion, conscious babies, conscious work life balance, conscious city planning, conscious here, conscious there, conscious everywhere! What has changed is the air they exhale; direct political activities have turned into sustainable consumption to primarily improve ones own wellbeing, yet displaying a more quiet indirect political statement. Understatement is the queue for their style, clothes are bought from small local upcoming labels that work sustainable, green and/or vegan – hence: with a lot of consciousness ☺
- In a divided world a man wants to set a mark for freedom. “Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!’” – John F. Kennedy. And he did leave a mark, not only in history but also in this seemingly stuffy setting. Imperialistic architecture paired with bourgeois citizens. But as one lifts the veil of prejudice, there is still an echo. An echo of freedom. Artistic freedom and appreciation thereof being neighbours, sexual freedom symbolised by the “Gay Village” which evolved into Berlin’s LGBT centre and echoing between them all, intellectual freedom creating free and open spirits.
The fashion reflects the apparent opposites. Romantic and straight conscious. The dreamer and the coffee mom with baby yoga. Both united with a desire for perfection.
A hodgepodge, people and fashion wise. A little 80s/90s, a little trashy, very colourful. Since the 18th century emigrants enriched and extended the district. First Bohemian exiles, then Turkish guest workers followed by Arabs joining the diversity mix. Since it was declared as the new “In”-place it has lost some of its originality and authenticity. But if you drift for 5 minutes through the multi-culti tangle, you hear at least 5 different languages and ways people talk or yell into the phone, you pass by various wedding dress stores that make your eyes sparkle from the oriental ostentatiousness and by the time the third police siren blares into your ear, you start to get hungry from all the smells of falafel, French fries, Arabic spices, black tea… So you stop and let your eyes wander … and then the patchwork rug muffles you. You straighten yourself up, head held high, claiming the spot you are standing on and there it is: The BIG attitude of Neukölln.
Famous for its cultural activities, theatres, cabarets, artist meeting points, and the Golden Twenties, the Ku’damm used to be the cultural blinking heart of Berlin. Not only in the 20’s, it was a boulevard of civic self-portrayal that represented international communications, intellectual activities, provocation, liberalness, commerce, and culture – aspects the new Nazi Ideology did not like too much… first damper. Second one: reconstruction into a display window of the west and the economic miracle. Third: casualty of the unification and with that a defeat to the now in-the-middle-again ‘old’ avenue “Unter den Linden”. BUT its heart still blings! Though now not a place for cultural awakening anymore, loose money, high-end labels, swarms of tourists, and a beautiful Christmas illumination keep the, a little different, Bling Bling alive. Consequently, no matter if you find yourself in a quieter side street or on the Ku’damm itself – a … who would have guessed? … Bling Bling statement is a must! 🙂
A place of entangled ancient and modern spirits of power. It was right here, where a fusion of two medieval settlements gave birth to Baby-Berlin. The old historical core persistently maintained its status against the forces of time. Originally filled with playful pompous Prussian palaces, bombardment created openings for heavy functional monumental buildings to join in between. Together they now witness the evolution of piercing modern glass houses grasping for a catch of sunlight to reflect it upon these monument-filled grounds which still, and always will hold this architecture of innovation and power tightly. Walking along this core, are (besides tourists) hipster and posh business people. Two life concepts reflecting the two opposing ideological sides of Berlin – but again a fusion. Of intentions, of fashion, of political statements… A unity, because of the necessity, the wish, and the will to stay powerful, innovative and to move forward.
Since this is nevertheless starting to turn into a book, we are going to take a small break here, a so called „Pinkelpause“ (german for: peebreak). Next stop will then be Friedrichstraße, where we will finally meet the traffic policeman, so sit tight 🙂
Ella&Flora are berlin based content bloggers, actresses and aspiring scientists. They see fashion as a philosophical and societal intra-acted art. They write about inspiring people (interviews), music, culture and the bigger (way bigger!) meaning of everyday life in their blog: Ella&Flora
Photos by posh
Prenzlauer Berg – trousers, blouse, striped shirt, coat
Schöneberg – coat, dress and blouse, skirt
Neukölln – pink tracksuit bottoms
Mitte – blue suit
Friedrichstraße – coat, black patterned trousers
Kreuzberg – greenish cardigan and dress
—> ALL by NOA NOA
Späti – glitter pullover —> by Martyna Sowik