northNovember 1944, a cold winter in every sense. In Bornstedt the contractions began early in the morning. Charlotte Joop and her sister Ulla started the vegetable cart to go to the hospital in Potsdam. The father was in front. The car broke down and Charlotte was in labor and cold. Finally, the soldiers took the women away. It was quite a difficult birth, but finally the dream child arrived. Wolfgang. The women liked the name, it sounded so beautifully Germanic. The boy was supposed to grow into a robust and obedient man. Like Father Gerhard Joop.
As soon as the child was born, everyone had to go to the bomb shelter to see other mothers and children. As soon as he roared for the first time, little Wolfi contracted whooping cough. He was the sickest of all, all the time. But she is also very pretty, with dark hair and ice blue eyes. He was a child of war, raw and brutal, with death always present. Many refugees sought refuge in the Bornstedt Crown Estate, where the Joops had settled. But there were always children there for, from today’s perspective, cynical games and poor people in this distraught extended family that protected and supported. And enough pens. The sickly boy drew during the many winter weeks that he had to spend in bed due to difficulty breathing and the dark angel sitting on his chest. Who could have imagined that it was mainly an allergy to the numerous cats in the house and that he wouldn’t make it through the winter months without being outside? Who could have guessed after the whooping cough started?
He was the little prince. I knew exactly that too. Until his father returned from the war. This strange man who returned from the front emaciated and had nothing in common with the handsome blonde that the son only knew from photos. And he didn’t know what to do with the child. The distance remained. Or as Wolfgang Joop once said: “I could never console him.”
That’s how things were in those cold Novembers. Today Wolfgang Joop turns 79, he will go with his grandchildren to the Friedrichstadtpalast and see the fantastic costumes of designer Jean-Paul Gaultier in the great magazine “Fall in Love.” He enjoys this more than a party. In the morning he will probably sit at his desk as usual and sketch. For his collections “Looks!” or by Hess Natur and all the other projects that he and his life and work partner Edwin Lemberg still have up their sleeves. Creativity does not retire. And no matter how sickly little Wolfi was, he always stayed tough.
He has become a man as beautiful as the women around him thought, and as disciplined when it comes to achieving, creating and supporting his family. He is multi-talented, he even knows how to cook very well, he could have had a great world career like Jil Sander and Karl Lagerfeld, they were and are the big three in Germany. But Wolfgang Joop never could and never wanted to subordinate his private obligations to his career. This is no cause for complaint: his wealth of experience is enough to cover many lifetimes anyway. His education, his humor, his creation in short.
A few years ago we created a column for ICON magazine, at first we called it “Haka” and “Dob”, a kind of conversation, we borrowed the names of boring German fashion categories: Haka = men and boys. and Dob = women’s clothing. These terms alone say a lot about the Germans’ relationship with fashion.
Then we move on to “Wait a minute,” little comments on the zeitgeist. Nurtured for decades as an observer of the times. To celebrate the day, we’ve rounded up a few here. Basically the candles on our birthday cake for a great free, generous and unconditional spirit.
“Every turning point begins with a bang. Let us continue to stubbornly celebrate the beautiful, the romantic, but also a modernity that celebrates stable values. Every zero demands one, every utopianism demands foundation and feeling.”
“I was in a high-class hotel in Miami and there was a woman getting on the elevator on each floor and I thought, ‘Are they all related?’ And are butts and pigtails actually cultural appropriation? But more importantly, where do they get these numbers so quickly?
“The luck of winning a million in the lottery lasts a month. Then come problems, which can quickly disappear if you translate happiness with euphoria. But how then? By chance? According to studies, successful cosmetic surgery makes you happy longer! Emphasis on success. – If you think about it, you can understand it. Have it in your hands to deceive destiny. Something that always bothered you is gone. Or something you never had is there. How lucky in life to have the opportunity to correct something.”
“The underground scene, the softness, the chaos, made and continue to make Berlin ungovernable, but there is also that maternal quality. A strange city. I’d like to ask Kennedy what he really meant. Maybe because Berlin died a thousand times and always stood up?
“What I would like to borrow now is a compass. Or at least someone who can explain to me why, on the one hand, we are still facing the Middle Ages, when Muslim brothers think they have to bury their sister in the forest because of a miniskirt, and, on the other hand, We people applaud space travel tourism so vehemently. Both are a rejection of reality: does it no longer apply? Shouldn’t we care more about cleaning up our planet? Learn more about science and technology instead of controversies and politics? If the Mother of God in space asks for tea, I will be happy to go. But until then, with my feet in the sand of Brandenburg, I am not looking at “Star Wars”, but at the horizon.”
“We used to laugh at the fact that there was a fashion police. Now they really exist. And the laughter gets caught in the hem. Fashion has always implied disobedience. The provocation. Rei Kawakubo’s sleeves at Comme des Garçons, which she cut so twisted you couldn’t get in. So you can understand how they really work. Insolence, transgression, disobedience: this is the origin of designs. In the painting of the church we pray upwards, but we do not want to go to the silence, but to the crowd. I miss it, I miss it very much: creative disobedience!”
“Enlightenment is not about prohibition, but about being enlightened. People can be manipulated if they are not enlightened. What is the Liberty? Ours is unlimited. This is why cancel culture sucks. Fashion is important again now. Because it comforts. But it is also renewal. I’ve had enough of recycling. All my friends long for haute couture. According to the individual part, the special part, the ability.”