Between the humdrum and Euro-dash of the main men’s fashion weeks in Milan, Paris and London is the little known but increasingly popular Berlin Fashion Week. Sponsored by the German car maker Mercdes Benz and taking place from last Tuesday until Friday, the highlight of the event is the Hugo by Hugo Boss show which showed on Thursday. I was very flattered to be asked to accompany Hugo Boss perfume makers Proctor and Gamble, alongside a handful of other bloggers including The Chic Geek, Blokey and Skin Care for Men, to the launch of Hugo Red – the new fragrance for guys and of course, the Hugo by Hugo Boss show. The release of a Hugo Boss fragrance is a highly anticipated and commercially exciting event, not only for the industry but for consumers, considering the iconic and timeless appeal of the brand. But the journey to Berlin had to start somewhere…
I was booked into the Sofitel Heathrow T5 the night before my British Airways flight to Berlin, and what a stay it was. Upgraded to a superior room on the west wing of the hotel, the room was spacious and decadent mixing both luxury and the necessity of the traveller seamlessly. With an Emes style airline chair with a superior King bed, the hotel space was modern, airy and dare I say fun, as the atmosphere was relaxed and unwinding. With a 5 minute walk time to departures, I hugely recommend the Sofitel for any over night stay before or after a flight from the airy yet buzzing Terminal 5.
Arriving in Berlin, we were greeted by a Hugo Red taxi, provided by Hugo Boss that took us to the Hyatt Berlin in the Mitte distrcit of the city. Protected from the -6 chill of the Germanic air, the room was the height of German minimalism with Bang and Olufsen technology, a work space and a jade marble bathroom that was enclosed to house the shower and bath. Watching TV whilst brushing my teeth was a novel slant on being provided for in the sleek space, and having such impeccable service was something other hotels can learn from. The public areas on the different floors was inter spaced with contemporary sculpture, ranging from a wooden doughnut and hanging rocks in the formation of an organic rectangle. It was quite simply, a haven and a treat…
The main launch of Hugo Red was at Vault, a space not too dissimilar from the Wapping project in east London; a restaurant and exhibition space. A former electrical substation built in 1928 on the banks of a canal in the Kreuzberg quarter of Berlin, we entered from the back of the venue, we were lead into a gallery space that housed the initial introduction from Guillaume Tardy, the Global Marketing Director of Hugo Boss Fragrances, who introduced us to how the event would evolve. From then we were taken though a journey of smell from Will Andrews from the Proctor and Gamble Creation Team who took us through the scented drapes infused with the four smells of Rugo Red; grapefruit, rhubarb, cedar wood and amber. These together create the theme of the behaviour of hot and cold metal; with Solid Chill element – later accompanied by a large bang to give you a solid, socking chill to heighten the smell – with the zesty grapefruit and tart rhubarb. After – with an large flame ignited behind me to heighten the experience of the Liquid Heat characteristics – the heady cedar wood and masculine hot amber were new scents I have never smelt alone. It was hard guessing what each smell was turned out to be very hard, beating my senses to what I thought I knew the smells of from past experiences.
After the invigorating and interesting introduction to the Hugo Red ingredients, we walked thorough the venue to the restaurant where Guillaume Tardy – who I spoke to briefly that evening, and turns out he runs a vintage store in Geneva with his wife as a side project to his day job – took us through the brand visuals. Featuring the Hugo Boss fragrances face and Brand Ambassador Jared Leto, a set of consumer facing moving visuals set the tone of the fragrance, shot by acclaimed Swedish director Jonas Akerlund. As a metaphor for life’s barriers, Jared Leto comes face to face with a wall of red lights but it is his determination whilst wearing Hugo Red that smashes these into thousands of pieces – a reflection of the fragrances inspiration; determination and a change of attitude.
That evening, we ate roasted breast of corn poulard with lentil salad for starter; an incredible grazed beef fillet with bean panache and polenta for main and Valrhona chocolate with pear and coffee for pudding all accompanied by a Rheirhessen white and Rioja red wine. Superb, and the fillet was possibly the best I have never had. Hugo Boss fragrances definitely know how to pick their restaurants…
Taking our Hugo Red car from the launch to the show space in Opernwerkstaetten, we passed the iconic TV Tower in the city centre. An impressive site, it was a huge juxtaposition of the enigmatic but derelict area we were going too. Celebrating their 20th anniversary this year the Hugo show was a triumph of design, not only within innovation but menswear. Focusing on the cut of the pieces as well as the construction of pieces, they rethought everything into a contemporary existence. Sartorial details were re imagined with gusto, the shows title, Reflection, was never that of their past but I think their future. Shoes were pointed with a slightly bulbous last, black was the order of the day but with such a piece was the red suit, what else would you wear. I did take a video but again, blogger is not uploading it so please see the finale from that of i-D magazine below.
We did see Eddie Redmayne, currrently in the film adaptation of Le Miserable, and Pixie Geldof at Heathrow on our way out so it was great to see them again at the Hugo show. Eddie was dressed in Hugo by Hugo Boss, and as you can see below, he was fully engaged with the show.
Of course, it would have been unjust not to have seen the history and culture that Berlin has to offer. As you can see the city had a bit of snow and clearly, the now we had in the UK was a different type that held Heathrow hostage which made us delay our return for a day. Taking the opportunity of this over night stop, again staying in the Hyatt, we dined at Borchardt which is Karl Lagerfeld’s favourite place to dine when in Berlin. Full of fashion and media types as well as anyone who is anyone, my stuffed whole baby squid starter was superb and an indulgence, as was my venison main, accomapnied by a great Rioja which was chosen by Will of P&G. The next day, we venured to the infamous and iconic Brandenburg Gate via the Memorial for Mudered Homosexuals, a calming homage to those killed in the name of their own identity. A sleek, comtemprary concrete box, inside is a loop film that see’s same sex couples kissing and celebrating their own sexuality in a free world. It was very moving to see such an honest and open dedication to those who died as well as those alive today. Lastly, I took myself on a mini tour to see the famous Check Point Charlie, the American check-point of the American sector back when Berlin was split into east and west Berlin, controlled by various nations inclusing the USA, UK and Russia. Not far from this is a massive section of the Berlin Wall, which of course fell in 1989 and you can see part of it it preserved – not only as a reminder of the history of the city but a visible scar deeply engranded onto the skin of Berlin reminding us that freedom is not to be taken for granted. In the words of Hugo Boss on Hugo Red – the fragrance inspires men to break with convention and unleash their unqiue creativity.
This is something that couldn’t happen almost 25 years ago, but the launch showed us that Berlin is now the right place for men to let go and find their inner creative. Why not do that whilst wearing Hugo Red too?