Helena Ahonen is the proprietor of one of Berlin's only contemporary milliner shops. From her showroom in fashionable Mitte, Ahonen creates and sells one of a kind, handmade hats. Her pieces are recognizable for exquisite quality and flair of small details added to minimalist designs. She has lived and worked in the city for the past thirteen years, amidst a time of great historical and artistic change following German reunification. Ahonen embodies Berlin's past specialty shops and present spirit.
LS: What prompted you to open your hat showroom in Berlin?
HA: Before moving to Berlin in 1997, I worked in Sweden doing theater costumes for several years. After some time, I decided to concentrate on making only hats. At first, I had an atelier. In 2002, I opened my first store in Berlin with an artist making bags. In 2006, I moved to my present location at Fehrbelliner Str.
LS: You craft every hat by hand. Each has unusual and individual details. What is your process of pairing a customer to each hat?
HA: I look at the colors of the customer, shape of face and body but also how a person moves. Some have a lot of energy. They can wear hats with more expressions than a quieter person. My hat needs to stay in balance, communicating at the same level with the person wear it… A hat can underline one's character or change it!
LS: How do your hats and customized tailoring reflect the history of fashion?
HA: The way I work was very common only a few decades ago. I think it's sad how we produce and consume today. It exploits workers and destroys our planet. I don't think the cheaper goods produced today are satisfying anyone, to be honest… Quality and originality does. I have to make at least one hat a day. Some takes less, other takes longer. Usually I work parallel with several hats at the same time.
LS: How does Berlin's past or present cultural identity infuse into your work?
HA: When I came to Berlin thirteen years ago, everything was still open – an unwritten page. If you wanted to do something, it was so easy. Everything was cheap. Today, investors are keeping a close eye on Berlin. Berlin is getting more polished and expensive. Experimenting is getting harder.
LS: What can you whisper in my ear about what you are creating next? How can I follow your work?
HA: I never work in terms of collections… I will be creating more fascination elements in explosive colors… Bigger, wilder, with shiny elements from our everyday life.
Helena Ahonen Hutdesign
Fehrbelliner Str. 56
Tues-Th 12-19 Fr-Sa 12-18
Tel: +49 (0) 30 44033662 email@example.com
Contributing writer:Leah Stuhltrager