Berliner Chic: A Locational History of Berlin Fashion is a book I co-wrote with Susan Ingram, who unfortunately could not be at the book launch in Montréal, and was dearly missed by all. The book launch took place at Reservoir, on Duluth and St. Laurent.
This project initiated during my MA at York University in Toronto and my year abroad in Berlin. Whenever I was not working on my MA thesis, I was busy doing research on Berlin fashion that Susan asked me to do in preparation for her “Europe à la mode” course. We have been living and working with this project on and off for many years.
What I found in Berlin when I went searching for the “Berliner Chic” exhibition that told the story of Berlin through clothes, and the circumstances of its premature disappearance, turned out to be a cultural gold mine. A vast history of the fashion and manufacturing industry, the story of museum and archival workers who fought hard to preserve the authentic collections of Berlin-made clothes, the vast meaning of chic made in Berlin that we trace over different cultural disciplines of film, music, photography, and branding.
This book is our collaborative effort to decipher what makes Berlin the city is has become today, and what cultural trends and forces have gone into its making, and who are the people (politicians, musicians, film stars, museum curators) behind this city’s chic.
If Berlin had been a person, it would have been one of us, and not one of them. (Monika Maron)
It was wonderful to celebrate the launch of this book with my amazingly supportive friends in Montréal, many of whom have witnessed the different stages of the brainstorming, writing, and editing process, and were there for me every step of the way. I am so happy and grateful to be able to share this moment with all of you!
We dedicated the book to the women of Berlin because they are the true heroines behind “Berliner Chic.” In fact, they are what makes Berlin chic.
No one can tell where art begins and where the work of daily life ends. (Rudolf Virchow)
A location, in the perspective of this book, is an itinerary rather than a bounded site – a series of encounters and translations. (James Clifford)
To look is to desire, to want to touch and caress, to slip a hand into a seam or fold. Whatever the price of pain, we want Joan Crawford’s shoes. But is it the shows we want, or the fantasy of a fashionable existence – the secret dream of Mildred Pierce? (Shari Benstock and Suzanne Ferriss)
Chic is when you don’t have anything left. (Ines de la Fressange)
All photos by Julia C. Vona