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On The Edge

The Corner is a world-class concept store in Berlin hosting high fashion, art and celebrity parties. Ana Finel Honigman finds out more

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by Ana Finel Honigman
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Germany’s fashion scene shifted direction in 2006 when Josef Voelk and Emmanuel de Bayser opened The Corner on Berlin’s stately Französische Strasse. As Berlin’s leading concept store, The Corner is the heart of Germany’s high-end fashion community. It is also a vital port between Berlin and international fashion, art and upscale creative culture.

In the spirit of Paris’s Colette or London’s Milk, The Corner showcases a thoughtfully curated selection of art books, men’s and women’s fashion, accessories, beauty products, scented candles, electronics, music, 20th-century vintage design and fresh contemporary art.

Located in Berlin’s trendy Mitte district, The Corner can be found behind a neo-classical stone storefront building on the edge of the lush Gendarmenmarkt Square and the regal Hotel de Rome. The Corner’s second, smaller space brings cool to Berlin’s genteel Charlottenberg. Despite the grand locations for both stores, Voelk and de Bayser have created hubs of avant-garde activity and their brand of chic defies convention. They artfully challenge local expectations with their blend of brands and artistic collaborations.

Voelk and de Bayser decided, after careers as a film producer and a cosmetics executive, to champion designers and creators who they believe embody individuality. ‘We take only designers with a strong signature and vision,’ says de Bayser.

Their shared vision supports their bold style decisions. Voelk and de Bayser contribute equally to curating and managing The Corner. ‘We are very compatible, we decide everything together,’ says de Bayser. ‘The Corner is a permanent work in progress, as we ask questions and find solutions. We are very grateful for our success and it is great to still share our common vision.’

Prior to The Corner’s arrival, Berliners primarily wore rough streetwear, vintage clothing and had an anti-fashion attitude. ‘Berlin’s fashion scene has evolved a lot in recent years,’ says de Bayser. ‘This is a very good moment for Germany since Berlin is putting fashion and lifestyle back on the map. Berlin is new. It is growing and it attracts a lot of people from Germany and all around the world, thanks to a vibrant and international art scene and amazing culture programmes.’

The Corner has been key to Berlin’s maturation from a scrappy street-focused environment into a fully cosmopolitan fashion city. The store introduced leading avant-garde designers such as Stella McCartney, Rick Owens, Ann Demeulemeester and Isabel Marant to women’s wardrobes in the city. Among the men’s fashion labels are Yves Saint Laurent, Lavin, Balenciaga and Rick Owens. Both genders complement each other elegantly and the selection is rich with character and innovation.

Equally significant to the city’s style culture are the taste-making events that The Corner hosts, offering the most elegant Berliners occasions where they can really shine. Recent parties have been held for and attended by Christian Louboutin, Stella McCartney, fashion writer Suzy Menkes and actor John Malkovich. At one event, leading art auctioneer Simon de Pury showed his photography and DJed.

‘Berlin is unique and it reflects the zeitgeist,’ Voelk told the influential blog Nahtlos. There is no doubt that The Corner is an authentic representative of the city. It stands out because of the way it interweaves art into the other aspects of the store. A library of art books greets visitors and the shop regularly features work by trailblazing Berlin and globally-recognised photographers.

As British fashion writer JoJo Iles observes, ‘The Corner’s assortment reads like a who’s who for those in the know. But don’t be misled. The Corner Berlin is not only about labels, it’s mainly about style. Style that cuts across categories and classifications, occupation and status.’ The Corner truly is Berlin’s cutting edge.

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