Who: Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis Where: Berlin, Germany…
Who: Fiona Bennett
Meet me 4 Tea
Since over 30 years she gives hats a contemporary touch and transfers them into new environments: The Milliner Fiona Bennett equips fashion and stage shows, decorates prominent heads and shapes hat fashion not only in Germany but worldwide. Her celebrity clientele includes Hollywood stars like Brad Pitt, Ashton Kutcher and Christina Aguilera. Her in detail handmade creations vary from practical everyday’s like the classical felt cap to sensational unique items that already graced the cover of Vogue and other fashion magazines. About 90 models emerge monthly in Fiona Bennett’s “transparent Atelier” at the Potsdamer Straße in Berlin-Schöneberg, where I meet the in England born for a cup of tea. Her being a passionate tea drinker, is as unsurprisingly as her enthusiasm for equestrian sport. Just think of England’s famous horse racing at Ascot, where it practically teems with wearers with striking hat creations. When it comes to the Berlin racecourse, the Hoppegarten, Fiona Bennett gets enthusiastic and excited about the charm of the old wooden bleachers and the spirit of the turn-of-the-century, which blows over the extensive area.
MyStylery: You are born in England, one must have put your tea drinking right in the cradle?
Fiona Bennett: That’s true actually. The tea is the national drink of England. My entire family is constantly drinking tea, my father is a downright tea-addict. I am an Espresso-fan and need two to get out of bed. Then I will continue with water before I change to tea. The day ends with a cup of tea.
MS: Well, the teatime in England is often celebrated with milk and sugar. How do you like it the most?
FB: I prefer the tea being pure. Moreover, the Englishman only have milk and sugar with black tea. Most of all they like the tea brand “PG Tips”, of which only the top leaves of the tea plant are used, the “Tips”. Portioned in special bags that you simply put in the jug. Done. Only sometimes I add sugar and milk. This has something cozy and reminds me of my childhood.
MS: Which varieties are preferably in your cup?
FB: I love ginger tea and green tea . And this Yogi mixes with the intense spices. Basically, I buy my tea in health food stores. Perhaps that would be different if there was a well-stocked tea shop near me.
MS: I’ve noticed that Englishmen like to leave the bags or loose tea in the pot. As connoisseurs we know that tea unfolds bitters after five minutes.
FB (surprised): No, also in England you only let the tea brew for two to three minutes.
MS: Why do they always serve me the extra pot with hot water then?
FB: Maybe it is believed that you could forget to remove the bag? (Laughs, pointing at me) No, in England you take the tea out to.
MS: With England you can also associate a different tradition, that of the horse racing. And related to this is the wearing of hats. Do you also deliver your creations to Ascot?
FB: We have many customers who order their hats for Ascot . A customer had been invited three days to the race, sitting next to Duchess Kate in the box. For the German racetracks the hat is just about to come.
MS: I have often seen hats at such events …
FB: The hat is playing an increasingly larger role, wearing a hat comes to the fore. The customers pay more attention to quality. Hat is not the same hat.
MS: In England they would not even think about appearing bareheaded. Even beyond the royal box or the VIP area the visitors wear hats.
FB: It is even part of the dress code, which is specified by the British royal family, including the hat size. In Ascot the hat must cover at least ten centimeters of the head. Fascinators are taboo there, knees and arms are covered. Abandoning too much cleavage is self-evident.
MS: At the Hamburger Derby you were a member of the hat jury, that choose the most beautiful hat. Is the Hamburg lady more elegant than the Berliner?
FB: The Hamburg ladies are very classic and are more used to wear hats. The more I was surprised to see the many elegant ladies in Berlin Hoppegarten.
MS: I would not necessarily have expected that …
FB: For “Ladies Day” the people from Berlin wore incredibly chic hats. It seemed like it was almost more about the hat than the horse race (laughs). Quite apart from this, Hoppegarten is the most beautiful racecourse in Germany, with a lot of potential and getting more famous stockmen and horses participating. The horse racing in this country is just not so cultured yet. Berlin has to, in this regard, close a more than 40 years old gap.
MS: Berlin is not Ascot. Nowhere, a dress code is less respected than in the German capital. Do you think that Berlin will someday discover its passion for stylish headgear?
FB: I have the feeling that they perceive the hat as an accessory and expression of vitality. Driving to Hoppegarten is an event that is celebrated. This starts already with the arrival. One prepares and drives out there, sits on the lawns, picnicking, strolls and bets. In Hoppegarten you spend a wonderful day. It is a trip that will be remembered.
MS: Have you spotted hat-sins where you thought, ouch, that’s a no go?
FB: Of course, can’t be missed (laughs). Measureless exaggeration in the form of too much shine. Half flowerbeds were sometimes worn on the head. Of course these are eye-catchers, which are very popular with the photographers. Now, of course they are not the taste police. Fine humor I like very much, but not when it gets carnivalesque. This has nothing to do with elegance, although in Berlin it belongs a certain lightness to it.
MS: Which outfit did you like best?
FB: A lady was wearing delicate powder shades that she had finely tuned and expertly fitted to her hat. And she had a special accessory, namely a noticeable attractive man. BvH
Fiona Bennett’s Styling-Tips …
for a skillful racecourse appearance:
When it comes to the category “best dressed” in the races – like this weekend at the “Grand Prix” in Berlin Hoppegarten – Fiona Bennett takes in inspection the overall appearance of a lady.
1.) The dress should have a monochrome silhouette and should not stand in competition with the hat.
2.) Patterned Dresses? This can be done, but skillfully, and is therefore something for stylish fashionistas.
3.) Accessories like handbag and shoes should be matched to the hat.
4.) Stiletto heels are not really suitable for racetrack visits. You could dag in the dash. Better are light plateaus or wedges
Contact Fiona Bennett:
„Meet me 4 Tea“ is supported by KPM – The Royal Porcelain Factory, Berlin