Milliner Fiona Bennett doesn't follow trends. In her Tiergarten "hat palace," she designs and produces a signature range of headwear attracting international clientele. It features in the series, "Babylon Berlin."
The sound of birdsong greets visitors as they open the door to Fiona Bennett's hat shop in Berlin Tiergarten. Elegant armchairs and a stark white floor incorporating some of the original wood paneling give the store the aura of a gallery – and set the stage for the work of this artistic Englishwoman. Her creations – in all their many colors and forms – hang from the ceiling or perch in alcoves along the wall.
Seven years ago, Fiona Bennett opened her Hut-Palast on Potsdamer Strasse together with partner Hans Böhme. All the hats are handmade and designed by the artist herself. Guests are invited to visit her in her workshop to watch how she heats, steams, forms, and then decorates the felt. The internationally-renowned hatmaker learned her trade during a three-year apprenticeship at a traditional manufacturer in Kreuzberg.
Upon request, she offers appointments for individual consultation. "I am fascinated by people, heads, and different forms of expression," says Fiona Bennett. Fashion is all about non-verbal communication. People express how they feel – or how they want to feel – through what they wear.
The hat is the icing on the cake, says Fiona Bennett, who grew up in Brighton as the daughter of an English father and a German mother. She emigrated to Germany as a child, and for the past thirty years she has been designing and creating hats in all imaginable variations, a craft which enjoys a rich tradition in the United Kingdom. She organizes major fashion shows and designs costumes for television productions, such as the historical series 'Babylon Berlin,' which is set in the 1920s.
In 1990, together with her former business partner, she staged a fashion show in West Berlin set in an amusement park ghost train in which the monsters were replaced by circus performers. "I just can't stand still," says Fiona Bennett, who, as a true creative, is always dreaming up new ideas. But she is not one to conform to trends. Hence one particular project she realized together with Hans Böhme: the interior design of the bathroom at Wintergarten Theater across the street from her shop. And, just like that, the popular theater had one more star attraction on its program.
Author: Anima Müller
FIONA BENNETT / HUT-PALAST
Potsdamer Str. 81–83