Fiona Bennett was born in Brighton in the UK and came to Berlin as a child. She learned the craft of millinery in one of the few hat ateliers in the city. In 1999, she opened her own shop in Berlin Mitte, which quickly became a meeting place for international celebrities. Since 2012, Fiona Bennett has been based in Potsdamer Strasse, together with her business partner Hans Böhme. Since then, Fiona has been one of the most successful and unusual hat makers in Germany. Her original hats have graced the cover of Vogue, major fashion magazines have featured her creations in their photo spreads and celebrities around the world have worn Bennett's models. She has been in the business for over 30 years now and has remained true to herself. All of the label's models are made by hand in the showroom of the studio in Berlin, every decoration and even the smallest detail is the result of skilled craftsmanship. For Fiona, there is nothing more exciting than bringing materials into a new form again and again. In doing so, she allows fashion and art to flow into each other, creating unmistakable one-of-a-kind pieces.
By the way, her life can currently be read in her biography "Vom Locken der Federn: A Life as Fashionista - Muse - Style Icon" .
We interviewed Fiona Bennett to find out how she got into her passion and what her plans are for the near future.
FCG: How did you get the idea to design special hats... when and where did your passion arise?
Fiona Bennett: I have been a hat designer with a passion for 32 years. Originally I dreamed of sculpting, by chance I learned about the dying craft of millinery and felt called to dust off the old hat and breathe new life into this craft.
It was my interest from the beginning to design contemporary or timeless hats. You can read excerpts from my story wonderfully in my book "Vom Locken der Federn" (published by Knesebeck Verlag). As the book is already out of print in stores, copies are only available in our shop.
FCG: You are British by birth. What are the differences between the German and the English market?
Fiona Bennett: That's true, but I now work exclusively in Germany and therefore have no direct comparisons. Of course, the English are far ahead in the hat industry, and hat culture is very cultivated there. In Germany, the joy of this wonderful accessory first had to be reawakened.
FCG: What would you wish for the German modelling landscape? What should change?
Fiona Bennett: Germans should care more for their designers and be proud of what they have to show, without just hoping for a quick profit. There should be more support so that the dedicated designers and companies can grow. We have enough talent in Germany, and it shouldn't be exclusively about the new generation, because those who have lasted a long time should also be cared for and considered. My suggestion would be to involve the designers more in the processes and thus listen to what is needed.
Otherwise, the German modelling landscape unfortunately keeps tripping itself up.
FCG: What are your goals for the next two years?
Fiona Bennett: We are opening up our archive and installing an online hat rental shop where stylists, designers, costume designers and private individuals will be able to browse and rent unique hats from the archive on a daily basis for a fee. This is sustainable and makes our label accessible to a broader customer community. We are also working on a line that works better in online retail. In our Hat Palace on Potsdamer Strasse, we will only offer the current handmade hat collection. In addition, we are planning an artist's edition twice a year in cooperation.
Thank you Fiona Bennett for this insight, we wish you every success for the months and years to come!