Susan Ingram and I dedicated our book, Berliner Chic: A Locational History of Berlin Fashion to the women of Berlin, and it was a very special honour and pleasure to be able to present the book in Berlin and to invite many of the women who made this project possible, inspired us, and continue to inspire us. The book launch took place at the St.George’s English bookstore in Prenzlauer Berg.
Chic is when you don’t have anything left. (Ines de la Fressange)
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.
If Berlin had been a person, it would have been one of us, and not one of them. (Monika Maron)
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.
A location, in the perspective of this book, is an itinerary rather than a bounded site – a series of encounters and translations. (James Clifford)
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.
It was wonderful to celebrate the launch of this book with old and new friends from Berlin and all over the world, many of whom have witnessed the different stages of the brainstorming, writing, and editing process, and some were also at the Montréal book launch.
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)
Photos by Stephanie Boisset and Jasmine Maggiori (thank you both!)