Tangent Speaks to Stil in Berlin

It is not easy to capture the spirit of such a multifarious city as Berlin, when it comes to fashion, art or otherwise. But somehow Mary Scherpe and Dario Natale, the photographers of the streetstyle blog Stil in Berlin, have managed to fill their pages with fashionable characters whom truly shine a light on the style and essence of this counter-culture filled metropolis. Their subjects, whether randoms found on the street or talented Berliners featured in their new “At home” series, are always sporting a unique mix of vintage, high street, local and sometimes high-end designs. We love how they are able to show off the cool fashion sense of the cities most stylish inhabitants while highlighting their eccentricities and not following a certain protocol. Stil in Berlin is not only a representation of Berlin style, but has been an inspiration to bloggers and international publications all over the world since it began in 2006.

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Stini, singer of Kinky White Horse, wearing all vintage

How does Stil in Berlin compare to other streetstyle blogs?

We try not to compare ourselves to other streetstyle photographers. There are only a small amount which have attained a high level of notoriety, and each of them offers something different whether it be a higher attention to beauty, tailoring, innovation, atmosphere, etc. We just go by our gut feeling of what we think style is, and hope that others appreciate it as well. Stil in Berlin is always changing as we train ourselves as photographers.

Do you you consider yourself a fashion or photography site?

We imagine it more as a fashion portraiture site.  We aren’t necessarily concerned with fashion so much as we are with style (hence the name).  It lies somewhere in the middle.

What is each of your back rounds?

Mary: I was born in the former GDR in a small village and came to Berlin around 2003 to study art history.

Dario: I was raised in Canada, where I studied Film Theory at university. I did a student exchange program for a year in Sweden, where everyone is fashion-obsessed. That’s when I realized I wanted to work with fashion. Deciding to do streetstyle specifically came from my fascination with meeting new and interesting people.

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Alex, 28, art director

How would you define Berlin style?

Casual, unpretentious, and extremely eclectic.

What trends are occurring in Berlin right now?

The only trend we’ve ever been able to pin down on Berlin is that of eclecticism.  There are too many people from too many places coming and going and influencing one another to point to one specific trend.

What about Berlin do you find special when it comes to fashion and art?

Berlin has been on the tip of everyone’s tongues for years, surrounded by a never-ending discussion of the underground. Which from the outside appears to give a sense of secrecy and exclusivity, but when you’re in the city everything seems so natural.  What’s great about the art and fashion scene here is that it’s so supportive in a way that doesn’t happen anywhere else.  Rather than competitiveness, there’s a sense of community. The lack of competitiveness causes its own problems, but generally Berlin is the perfect place to experiment and foster new ideas.

How does Berlin compare to other fashionable cities?

Berlin isn’t a fashionable city in the traditional way of thinking. Economically speaking, the industry is very small and there isn’t much opportunity to compete with established fashion capitals. Berlin is instead a city of inspiration. The constant flux of young creatives coming and going creates enormous diversity, which provides potential for collaboration and innovation.

What do you look for when you are photographing someone?

There’s nothing specific we look for, but there has to be a congruity throughout the entire look, from the clothes they wear to the way they style their hair to even the way they stand.  We have to be able to grasp a sense of their character through the way they present themselves to the world.

How do people usually react to getting their picture taken?

Mostly they’re flattered.  When we began shooting people, most of the people we approached were a bit confused and didn’t understand the concept of what we were doing.  Now the streetstyle genre of photography has become more popular many people we approach seem to be almost expecting to be photographed when we walk up to them with our cameras.

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Klara, 16, student from Leipzig wearing a Zara jacket and a bag she made herself. The rest is vintage.

How would you describe your own style?

Dario: I’m always trying to take influence from new wave culture, a little clean-cut but also experimental in my use of proportion.

Mary: I’m fascinated by strong looks derived from men’s wear, pleated trousers with brogues and jackets, materials like tweed or wool.

Is there a certain designer, celebrity or model whose style you admire?

Dario: Not particularly.  Style for me is as much tied to personality as it is to what the person is wearing, so I find it hard to admire people that I don’t have a more personal relationship with.  I save most of my admiration for the people I meet in person who impress me.

Mary: I do have a thing for Dries van Noten, because I like the power and intelligence his designs have. I also admire the vibrancy of Tilda Swinton.

Do you consider fashion an art?

Dario: What’s interesting for me is the re-appropriation of fashion designs into an expression of identity; in the way people dress themselves.  The garment becomes a medium used in the creation of an image and identity, rather enabling expression than being an expression of its own. It is the person that becomes the art — when it’s done right.  And in a very roundabout way, this is what I try to capture in my photos.

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