Berlin Fashion Week is drawing to a close and I don’t care. I suppose I have no interest in fashion because I have no real interest in things that pass, as it were, in the blink of an eye. I know that there are some people in town this week for whom I have great admiration, but I would admire them all the same whether they were here or on the moon. And they don’t much have anything to do with fashion so much as they are ambassadors of style, which is to say that they have an eye on the threads of continuity. And as an inhabitant of Berlin, I must say that Fashion Week’s influence on the city has been, from my perspective, minimal. If anything, there was even less German being spoken on the U-Bahn, and slightly more evidence of fake tan.
Berliners are a stylish lot, but they follow their own compass. There’s an idiosyncratic mix of Western-looking orthodoxy and Eastern-looking jauntiness, mixed with peroxide and angular spectacles. Of course, there is as much diversity in the city as you’d expect to find anywhere, but there is an unmistakeable ‘look’, which might be rooted in their wonderfully powerful jawlines and piercing eyes. I am, I confess, rather taken with the beautiful people here. The Northern European gaze is filled with intellectual-looking types, who represent a collective lament at the demise of film noir, for which they were born, holding their cigarettes oh-so chicly as they peer over their tortoiseshell rims onto a black-and-white winter.
The eye must be selective, however, just as it must be anywhere. If you look too closely you will see a preponderance of mistaken attempts at cool: a clothing line called Jetlag; a surfeit of Lonsdale-clad youthfulness, wasting; a tendency to drink alcohol in public. But the brain is such that these things can be disregarded. My eyes dart instead to the Marianne shoes on every beautiful her, and the Derby brogues on every beautiful him; the coils of loosely knitted woollen scarves; and the refreshing array of headgear worn by the discerning, if not merely by the cold. Berlin fashion is, I am afraid, weak. But Berlin style endures.