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Scene in Berlin

Lavinia Pitu, BerlinJuly 10, 2014

As Berlin Fashion Week kicks off, it's time for the locals to take out their eclectic outfits once again and get ready to rock the town. In Berlin, being in just means opening your closet, says DW's Lavinia Pitu.

Hipster, Copyright: Fotolia/Viorel Sima
Be a hipster in Berlin and that'll doImage: Fotolia/Viorel Sima

Berlin Fashion Week may be a hub for the international fashion industry. But for the average Berliner, Fashion Week goes beyond the technicalities of industry trends. For them, it's a time to dig into the far corners of their closet, go out on the town, meet new people, buy quirky accessories and get others for free. It's time to party - but in style.

I realized this once again as the summer edition of Fashion Week opened this week with the impressive Bread and Butter trade show for street and urban wear, taking place at the site of the former Tempelhof airport. It's at Fashion Week that Berlin's creative and whacky spirit shows itself the most.

For the average Berliner, fashion isn't only about high-gloss magazines and summer and winter collections, but about your sense of who you are.

In Berlin, being in vogue means having the guts to say, "I don't care about fashion."

All year long, Berliners mirror the weather by adorning themselves in black from head to toe. When neon pink becomes the new black, they stay faithful to the old black. In the middle of summer, they dig out their chunkiest boots, and in winter they make their own accessories to complete a spontaneously concocted, eclectic ensemble.

In the end, Berliners are almost always either underdressed or overdressed. But they're also the last to care. That's the Berlin style. And that Berlin style is exactly what needs to be celebrated at Fashion Week.

Bread and Butter opening at Berlin Fashion Week 2014, Copyright: DW/L. Pitu
Even the World Cup played a role in this year's Bread and Butter fairImage: DW/L. Pitu

Carnival in Berlin

Since Fashion Week overlaps this year with the FIFA World Cup, Bread and Butter has turned the huge venue into a little Brazilian carnival. You have Brazilian music, Brazilian food, Brazilian beachwear and plenty of caipirinhas.

The highlight of the week so far - and we're talking about a major fashion event! - was the open-air viewing of the first World Cup semi-final, organized right among designers' booths. For fans of both football and fashion, a dream come true. For fans of Brazil, however, it was an unimaginable nightmare, with Germany squishing the host country with an over-the-top 7-1 victory.

While the German team can now look to the future - at least the very near future, with the World Cup final set for Sunday - fashionistas in Berlin swapped sweat-wicking jerseys for vintage looks and set their sights on the past.

Scene in Berlin logo, Copyright: DW

This year, the Vintage Circus fair made its debut as part of the regular Bread and Butter event. For the average Berliner, who loves vintage more than anything else, this best-of mixture of bygone Channel and Dior garments was definitely the icing on the cake. And since the event was open to the public, thousands of visitors came to round out their wardrobes with time-honored pieces.

Be yourself, be Berlin!

Berlin Fashion Week runs through July 13 with an overloaded schedule of catwalk shows, trade fairs, installations, parties, concerts, and designer events.

International and German designers like Julian Zigerli, Lena Hoschek and Kilian Kerner are presenting their newest collections this week. With seats reserved for VIPs like Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton, the official face of this year's Fashion Week, and Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit, there's less room for Berlin residents.

All the more reason for those who do show up to scour their closets beforehand. Guests have to complete with the styles both on the catwalk and in the front row. After all, at Fashion Week gossip is the highest-ranking VIP, and the only way to stand out is to be unique.

Designer Iona Ciolacu Miron

Other shows worth seeing are Premium, an event dedicated to the high-fashion segment, Panorama, the marketplace for international leading brands, and the New York show for young fashion, Capsule.

But hold off on the makeup remover and sweats because the end of the show isn't the end of the day. Hundreds of after-show parties make it almost impossible to decide where to go.

As complicated as it might sound, don't worry. Do it like the average Berliner: Go to the first party you find, smile and mingle, and the rest will follow naturally.

Just remember to always be yourself in Berlin. That way you'll always be in vogue.