Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Saturday, 21 February 2015

"The Kennedys - Timeles Fashion Icons" in the KaDeWe

©Brigitta Huegel

You see it at one glimpse: These are The Kennedys
We have an exhibtion now in Berlin's KaDeWe (= Kaufhaus des Westens, founded in 1902, with 60.000 square meters shop floor the biggest department store in Continental Europe. And just around our corner...). 
No political themes are touched - but that would be unfair to expect from an exhibition with the title "THE KENNEDYS. Timeless Fashion Icons." 
"The Kennedys" here are just the couple John F. and Jackie Kennedy (though the exhibition organizers sometimes quite surprisingly talk of "Jackie O."). NOT surprising for the KaDeWe: the subject is Fashion. Huge grey moveable walls in the entrance hall form an open cube, in which the new Armani collection is sold. 
On the enclosure walls the black-and-white photos are presented (the original photos are in the private 'Museum The Kennedys' - surprise again: I did not know that Berlin has such a museum). 
The legends under the photos are beautiful, but not easy to read, they glitter golden at knee's-height, so you have to do a bit of aerobics and take-off your sunglasses... (though, if you don't want to be outraged by the many comma faults: keep them on...)  
What do you think of when you hear "Jackie O."? 
I think: Pillbox hat, huge dark sunglasses, A-line - in one word: elegance. 
Some facts are quite interesting - for example I did not know that John F. wore - different from other chief of states - single-breasted suits, his suit jackets were without a vent, had small soft shoulders and were strongly tapered/waisted. Also new for me: he wore silk ties in "American stripe-direction" (my strange translation) - they go from below right to above left - contrary to the British style, where the aristocrats wore ties with stripes from below left to right above and sneered at the copycats from America - till those changed their design in the Twenties.. 
Jackie loved Givenchy, Chanel, Dior (he invented the A-line) - but, after Pat Nixon said in 1960 
"I like American designers, I think they are the best in the world", Jackie switched to Oleg Cassini - an American, because she wanted to please the American voters. 
And her 3 strings of pearl were made of glass - 6mm and 8mm in diameter - the wealthy society then loved those pearls, easier to buy and more even than real ones.  
Both Kennedys loved the Ivy League style when in private - when Jackie met John the first time she had short cropped hair - "the Italian cut" - but the voters and the press preferred the "Bouffant" (which in the Fifties originally was designed to counteract the huge petticoats). 
And she had to wear a hat - thus she needled the pillbox-hat on her hair - because John hated hats. Which infuriated (and finally ruined) the American hat industry - they slid into a sales crisis (which Jackie should heal...) 

So: if you are near the KaDeWe - have a look! 

©Brigitta Huegel

Monday, 16 February 2015

My German Blog

©Brigitta Huegel

Dear You, 
sorry, I was a bit lazy in the last weeks. Not really lazy - I had a lot of other things to do - but even my best friends in "the real world" had to wait for my (long) e-mails. 
Now the first thing I've written is a post - in German. I had almost forgotten that I have a German blog - - but I remembered it two days ago when I had a really charming experience while wandering through Berlin. And suddenly I knew that there exists a word for the way I discover cities and towns: "flanieren" - it might be translated as "to stroll about" or "amble along". And that word I chose as title for my German blog.  
Oh - translations: I saw what Google offers you when you choose "translation" for my German blog - oh my... Better to do it myself (roughly). 
I wrote: 
'Today the sun is shining, though still a little bit timid, and in the afternoon I sit on my balcony, in one hand a mug of tea, in the other a book by Franz Hessel, written in 1929: "Spazieren in Berlin: Ein Lehrbuch der Kunst in Berlin spazieren zu gehen', ("Strolling about Berlin: A Guide (or textbook) to Learn the Art of Strolling About Berlin") - the title was changed in 1984 to "Ein Flaneur in Berlin". 
My balcony is already planted with early flowering plants: tiny daffodils, a few yellow pansies, and topiary rosemary, thyme, laurel and sage (on little trunks). These little trees led to a discussion with an interesting (unacquainted) woman, who was torn between gardener's greed ("they are dead cheap") and prudence ("it is still too early"). She decided upon reason. 
I don't want to be reasonable anymore. At least not with tiny things - and often also not with big ones. 
"Strolling about" also doesn't follow reason. 
It is what I do for years: in London, where I don't give a damn about beautifully bound city guidebooks; in Edinburgh where I fell in love with the city while I drifted around; in Hastings, washed up like Robinson Crusoe, and where everybody asked: "Why Hastings?" 
If you do 'flanieren', there is no "Why?
One just meanders along.