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Melissa Drier: My Germany

As the grande dame of international fashion journalism in Berlin, Melissa Drier has an unrivalled perspective on the city’s past and potential. A native New Yorker, Drier moved to Berlin in 1985 as the German correspondent for Women’s Wear Daily. She shares her views on the best of Berlin fashion and living

City Guide
Ana Finel Honigman,

If work and other commitments were not a concern, where would be your ideal place to live?

It would still be Berlin. After the Berlin Wall fell, I was wondering what I was still doing here, as the city had changed dramatically overnight. But there was nowhere else calling me. There was nowhere that I really, really wanted to live. Berlin is home.

What are your favourite Berlin shops?
Quartier 206 department store, Cabinet, the Corner, Wunderkind, Andreas Murkudis or the little designer boutiques in Mitte.

And your favourite Berlin restaurant?
When I want to eat well but with not too much fuss and at a reasonable price I go to Sissi a tiny, hole-in-the-wall Austrian restaurant where the owner and chef, Martin, cooks with love. Which translates into real food!

What is your favourite German city and why?
Berlin. Berlin has country, city, biking. And there’s always something interesting going on that I don’t know about; there’s tons still to discover. I also love Hamburg with its mix of old industrial and patrician architecture and its juxtaposition of down-and-dirty and good-life aspects. Plus I’m keen on Leipzig. It’s got a special pride that appeals, more wonderful old industrial and residential buildings, a lively art scene and surprisingly good food.

What advice would you give visitors to Germany?
It depends on where one goes, but, as with traveling anywhere, the best bet is to shelve everything you think you know about a country. Be a sponge, absorb, and if you’re not happy where you are, move on. And get off the main drags – look around corners, in courtyards, take a left turn.

What are some distinguishing qualities of German design?
When it’s good, there’s a proper respect for function and material combined with a cleanness and clarity of line.

What product or brand do you feel best embodies German craftsmanship or aesthetics?
If I could turn back time, it would have been Braun, but that’s one of the saddest big-American-corporation-buys-and-ruins-German-jewel stories that I know.



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