Avant-garde German fashion designer Peter O Mahler has just celebrated his 20th year in the business with the launch of his first fragrance, together with an anniversary clothing collection due out in 2014. Mahler opened his first store in 1997 in his native Düsseldorf, before making the German capital his home a few years later. Here he talks all things Berlin with Josh Sims
‘I was born in Düsseldorf, and worked there until 2000. I always lived very close to the Rhine and I like the new area around the harbour. When it comes to fashion Düsseldorf has always been and is still quite important. Our headquarters, and one of our shops, is located between the old town and Königsallee – and I always appreciate coming back to it.
‘Since the turn of the millennium Berlin has become the centre of my creative work. My atelier is now located in Berlin-Mitte, probably one of the most intriguing and constantly changing places in the world. Berlin is a city with a thousand faces. We have one shop in Scheunenviertel, a young and inspiring part of Mitte; the other is in the reborn western part of the city very close to the fancy part of the Ku’damm, which has a totally different atmosphere. And this is what I like about Berlin: it’s many cities in one.
‘In Berlin, I really like KaDeWe, especially the food store with its enormous selection. Fassbender & Rausch is great for its excellent chocolate. And Objets Trouvés is a fantastic shop which stocks original furniture from all over Europe.
‘My favourite restaurants would be Entrecôte for its excellent fresh food, cosy atmosphere and friendly French-speaking staff; it feels like coming home. La Soupe Populaire in Mitte is good, too, especially for its location and its bar. The food at Hartmanns in Kreuzberg is also great. And I really like Monsieur Voung for tasty Vietnamese dishes – it’s relaxed, but always very crowded and atmospheric.
‘Zeit für Brot is my favourite local café. It has lots of organic bakery stuff and is typical of Berlin. It was one of last year’s stars of the Mitte scene.
‘I always take out-of-town friends on a boat trip on the Spree, to give them a good overall impression of the city and its famous cultural places on Museumsinsel and of the government buildings, including the Reichstag.
‘For special occasions I tend to go to the restaurant of China Club Berlin. It has truly breathtaking views over Berlin, good food and feels luxurious. I’ve just started going to Pauly Saal in the Mädchenschule; it’s new, fancy and already an institution with the locals.
‘I enjoy walking around Scheunenviertel with its galleries and small individual shops. My favourite view in the city is of Strasse des 17 Juni, looking towards the Brandenburger Tor, from the Siegessäule. It’s one of the great boulevards of Berlin, connecting the west and east of the city.
‘August II, one of the new bars in Mitte, is glamorous yet laidback. Zoo Palast, which was an important venue of the Berlinale film festival, reopened recently after renovation. It blends the old glamour of the movies with the newest technology. And it has the most comfortable seating I’ve ever experienced in a cinema …
‘The Museumsinsel and particularly the Neues Museum are, in my opinion, the best local landmarks. David Chipperfield’s architecture is very impressive. The museum’s most famous item is the bust of Nefertiti, displayed in a special room decorated like an ancient Egyptian temple.
‘I prefer the Hamburger Bahnhof for its modern and contemporary art, which includes the important Friedrich Christian Flick collection. My insider tip? Try to see it on one of the ‘long night’ events. On these special evenings the museums and galleries stay open until midnight and there are special shuttle buses to take you from place to place.’