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Keeping busy in the off-hours around Berlin.
BOWIE’S BERLIN: “Bowie without Berlin is unimaginable.”
That’s how Martin Roth, director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, summed up the relationship between the iconic musician and Germany’s capital. The newly opened “David Bowie” exhibition at Martin-Gropius-Bau features most of the V&A’s wildly popular “David Bowie Is” show from last year, along with a special section focusing on the singer’s stint in the German capital.
From 1976 to 1978, Bowie lived in Berlin, and the city’s inspiration led to three albums now known as the Berlin Trilogy: “Low,” “Heroes” and “Lodger.”
Sixty items have been added to the exhibition for a dash of local color. Highlights include photos of Bowie exiting the Orient Express in Berlin’s Zoo train station, a worn pale blue velvet bench from Seventies hot spot Dschungel (“Jungle”) nightclub, and never-before-exhibited correspondence between Bowie and Marlene Dietrich. They appeared together in the 1978 film “Just a Gigolo” but, having filmed in separate cities, never met on set.
Also newly on display are Bowie sketches, drawings and paintings, many strongly influenced by German Expressionists, like a painting and woodcut by artist Erich Heckel from the Brücke Museum. Bowie and Iggy Pop were frequent visitors there, and Heckel’s works clearly inspired cover poses for the 1977 albums “Heroes” and “The Idiot.”
Additionally, there are pictures of Bowie’s apartment on Hauptstrasse in the Schöneberg neighborhood, as well as his house keys.
“When [visitors] step out of the museum, they should be able to look for certain things they have seen in the show — I mean, the Hansa studios are just 500 meters away,” explained Christine Heidemann, curator of the Berlin section.
To that end, curious sorts can take walking tours that highlight the ch-ch-ch-changes in Bowie’s Berlin, or visit historic Hansa Tonstudio, where “Heroes” was produced. The studios have also played host to Depeche Mode, Nick Cave, Brian Eno and U2.
The new Berlin section is exclusive to the city, and will not travel on with the exhibition when it departs in August.
— Susan Stone
7 Niederkirchnerstrasse, at the corner of 110 Stresemannstrasse, 10963
Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily
Entry: 14 euros, or $19
Hansa Tonstudio and Bowie tours via musictours-berlin.de
AN IMMODEST PROPOSAL: Martina Rink believes Germany’s contributions to the fashion industry are too often overlooked.
“The Germans are way too modest about what they do and there are loads of them out there playing in the top leagues of international fashion,” according to Rink, the power behind the new coffee-table book “Fashion Germany.”
The 208-page tome, published by Prestel in German and English editions, was born of a desire to show the world “what we have to be proud of. We are associated with quality and accuracy, and that shows in all areas.”
Rink rounded up an impressive list of more than 90 people from the business — including designers Dorothee Schumacher, Bernhard Willhelm and Markus Lupfer, model Johannes Huebl and stylist Julia von Boehm — and invited them to provide contributions reflecting what they do.
“It’s a mix,” Rink offered, “of writing, poems, beautiful images and handwritten Peter Lindbergh interviews.”
Rink followed a similar format in her first book, “Isabella Blow,” which was dedicated to her former boss and mentor.
“I love getting people together to do these books, whether the focus is a person, subject, company or brand,” she said.
“Fashion Germany” will launch July 9 during Berlin Fashion Week at designer-studded specialty store The Corner. It will also be “dressed” for the occasion in an exclusive MCM book cover in the brand’s classic cognac logo print, accentuated by a sketch of Irma, Jasmin Khezri’s illustrative character.
— Jessica Saltz
TOURIST TRAPPINGS: Berlin’s heady summers and nonconformist style can’t really be bottled, but still, there are some liquid treats to bring home for a bit of the city’s spirit — inside and out.
Absolut Vodka has chosen Berlin for its first German city edition. Multimedia artist Zhivago Duncan gave the familiar bottle a street art spin, with a graphic of Berlin’s famous Alexanderplatz TV tower tagged with graffiti reading “Es ist nicht einfach immer ein Rebell zu sein” (“It’s not easy to always be a rebel”) paired with drippy pastel paint stripes. The limited-edition 0.7-liter Absolut Berlin is priced around 20 euros ($27) and can be found in liquor shops and grocery stores. Visitors take note: it’s not available at duty-free shops or travel retail.
For a waft of the past, try Frau Tonis. The local vintage-influenced perfumery Frau has a triptych of scents that evoke the Roaring Twenties in Berlin. There’s Linde Berlin 10 reveres the Linden, or Lime Trees That Perfume the City’s Boulevards; Violets 37, the fragrance worn by Twenties film legend Marlene Dietrich, and Bogota Berlin 18, which is inspired by the quirky and recently closed Hotel Bogata, which played host and muse to artists from Benny Goodman to Helmut Newton to Mario Testino. The boxed set of three 15-ml. perfumes is priced at 69 euros, or $94.
Like many great Berliners, Frank Leder hails from somewhere else. The Nuremberg-born fashion designer has made Berlin his home for the past decade, after studying at London’s Central Saint Martins. Leder’s artistic focus is “German-ness” and the country’s rites and rituals, but his cult-status designs are loved in Japan, and mostly sold there.
Luckily for locals, Leder has branched into making artisanal grooming products. His Tradition line comes in apothecary bottles finished with Bakelite caps, linen string, and paper tags. The Deutsche Eiche (German Oak) Bath Oil has a leaf and acorns preserved inside, while the layered potion inside the Ober Tertia Regenerating Bath evokes school chemistry experiments. The contents are produced in Austria by the makers of the Susanne Kaufmann line, priced from 18 to 45 euros ($24 to 61), and found at MDC Cosmetics and Gestalten Bikini Berlin.
13 Zimmerstrasse, 10969 (Mitte)
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
26 Knaackstrasse, 10405 (Prenzlauer Berg)
Hours: Monday to Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
BACK TO BASICS: While the rain of Michelin stars on Berlin this year illustrates how far the local high-end gastronomy scene has come, there’s also an alternative culinary development in the city to be noted. Casual eateries are clearly on the rise. Charting the change: Mitte’s more sophisticated Vietnamese restaurant Chi Sing switched gears to turn into the street food District Mot featuring easy market stall decor and plastic furniture, and Michelin-chef Tim Raue opened the communal kitchen-inspired Soupe Populaire with his takes on down-home Berlin specialties.
More rustic food market concepts and stalls at Maybachufer and Prinzessinnengärten have become increasingly popular among the city’s growing legion of younger gourmands.
Here are three eateries to check out.
— Quynh Tran
Ban Ban Kitchen: It’s nothing more than an improvised container off the main road in the very south of Neukölln. But the food stands out. The Korean-Vietnamese team of Ban Ban Kitchen fuses distant fast foods: Turkish, Korean and American. There are just three flavors (Ninja Chicken, Soy Superstar and Bulgogi Beef) with a vegan alternative for each. Dishes like Bulgogi Beef Burgers, Kimchi Fries and Nori Tacos promise unusual senses of taste — which is quite a challenge in multicultural Berlin these days.
Ban Ban Kitchen
205 Herrmannstrasse, 12049 (Neukölln)
Hours: Thursday to Tuesday, 5 to 11 p.m.
Tin Tan: Other than Tex-Mex, authentic Mexican food is hard to find in Berlin. Barbara Craffonara and Mauricio Acosta have set out to change that with Papalótl, a popular restaurant among Mexican expatriates. Her newest love child is Tin Tan, a rustic tin-box-style self-service Mexican street food restaurant. Not the tacky-taco kind, but fresh, soft ones that come with traditional Campestre chicken and milk-boiled Suadero beef in metal pans, served with coriander and lime just like in Mexico. In the summer, the backyard terrace offers a break from bustling Mitte.
124 Chausseestrasse, 10115 (Mitte)
Hours: Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Van Anh: Inspired by her grandmother’s kitchen from the Hanoi of the Sixties, Van Anh opened a cozy space with classic Vietnamese comfort kitchen fare like Bun Cha, grilled pork and vermicelli, and Dau Chuoi, tofu and plantains in curcuma sauce, served in heavy pottery. A special is the drinks menu with fresh Mang Cau shake and traditional Hanoian egg coffee, a Zabaglione-like egg cream with Vietnamese espresso.
7 Oderberger Strasse (corner of Kastanienallee), 10435 (Prenzlauer Berg)
Hours: Monday to Sunday, noon to midnight