Great Britain: Hatmaker Fiona Bennett

Planet Berlin: Keeping your hat on

Born to create

Born in Brighton, England, Fiona Bennett has lived in Berlin since the 1970s. She grew up in Charlottenburg and from a young age showed a desire to work creatively. She later learned traditional milliner techniques during a three-year hatmaking apprenticeship in Kreuzberg.

Planet Berlin: Keeping your hat on

From summer strolls to weddings

Light straw hats for the summer, elegant yet informal men's hats, couture for the lady, creations for special occasions, such as weddings: Fiona Bennett offers an individual solution for every taste and type. In the gallery, they balance on stands and hang on magnets in the air.

Planet Berlin: Keeping your hat on

Select clientele

In the milliner studio that turned 20 this year, hats are shaped and sewn, feathers and flowers fixed and adjusted. Each high-end hat is handmade over several days. The news has got around, with limousines sometimes bringing celebrities to Fiona Bennett's door. Christina Aguilera, Yoko Ono, Hugh Jackman and Brad Pitt are among her customers.

Planet Berlin: Keeping your hat on

All good things come from above

Bennett and her staff at the Hut-Palast work according to two maxims: "All good things come from above;" and "So many hats and only one head." The preparation and realization of a new collection takes several months.

Milliner Fiona Bennett doesn't follow trends. In her Tiergarten "hat palace," she designs and produces a signature range of headwear attracting international clientele. It features in the series, "Babylon Berlin."

The sound of birdsong greets visitors as they open the door to Fiona Bennett's hat shop in Berlin Tiergarten. Elegant armchairs and a stark white floor incorporating some of the original wood paneling give the store the aura of a gallery – and set the stage for the work of this artistic Englishwoman. Her creations – in all their many colors and forms – hang from the ceiling or perch in alcoves along the wall.

Seven years ago, Fiona Bennett opened her Hut-Palast on Potsdamer Strasse together with partner Hans Böhme. All the hats are handmade and designed by the artist herself. Guests are invited to visit her in her workshop to watch how she heats, steams, forms, and then decorates the felt. The internationally-renowned hatmaker learned her trade during a three-year apprenticeship at a traditional manufacturer in Kreuzberg.

Upon request, she offers appointments for individual consultation. "I am fascinated by people, heads, and different forms of expression," says Fiona Bennett. Fashion is all about non-verbal communication. People express how they feel – or how they want to feel – through what they wear.

Great Britain: Fiona Bennett / Hut-Palast - Move your cursor or finger for the 360° view

Star attraction

The hat is the icing on the cake, says Fiona Bennett, who grew up in Brighton as the daughter of an English father and a German mother. She emigrated to Germany as a child, and for the past thirty years she has been designing and creating hats in all imaginable variations, a craft which enjoys a rich tradition in the United Kingdom. She organizes major fashion shows and designs costumes for television productions, such as the historical series 'Babylon Berlin,' which is set in the 1920s.

Related Subjects

In 1990, together with her former business partner, she staged a fashion show in West Berlin set in an amusement park ghost train in which the monsters were replaced by circus performers. "I just can't stand still," says Fiona Bennett, who, as a true creative, is always dreaming up new ideas. But she is not one to conform to trends. Hence one particular project she realized together with Hans Böhme: the interior design of the bathroom at Wintergarten Theater across the street from her shop. And, just like that, the popular theater had one more star attraction on its program.

Author: Anima Müller

FIONA BENNETT / HUT-PALAST
Potsdamer Str. 81–83
10785 Berlin-Tiergarten