Blogger Marlene Soerensen writes for Vogue, DIE ZEIT, Süddeutsche Zeitung and on her personal blog Spruced. This Berlin Fashion Week is the first with her little son Arlo at her side. And we’re allowed to take part, too as Marlene shares her experiences as a Fashion Mum with us:
“It starts, as it does every season, with choosing the right handbag. And that’s where the similarities to previous fashion weeks end. Instead of shoving business cards, a lipstick and my phone into a clutch, I take my James Castle rucksack and fill it with: a dummy, an extra dummy, two bottles of milk, porridge, biscuits, three muslins, wet wipes, warm socks, a wool blanket, a teething ring, headphones and a cuddly penguin. Did I forget anything? Oh god, I hope I didn’t forget anything! Because we’ll be out all day. That’s the plan anyway: to do fashion shows, trade fairs, showroom visits, all of the usual appointments I take as a journalist and blogger during Berlin fashion week. Except this time, I have a Plus 1 – my baby boy Arlo, who has just turned eight months old. Which is why, we have our new CYBEX PRIAM buggy to help us get around. It’s the first real test to find out how it’s going to work together in the future: being his mama and doing my job.
What immediately doesn’t work on Tuesday: leaving on time. Arlo’s doctor’s appointment takes longer than expected, once we’re back home he wants to have a leisurely lunch and I’m realizing that it might’ve been extremely optimistic to visit the Premium and Seek fairs on the same day when you’re reliant on public transport. I decide to start with Seek, a showcase for contemporary menswear, so let’s pretend I’m doing it mostly for Arlo’s sake. All of the cool guys hanging out there might inspire him for his future wardrobe, right?
Turns out that cool guys turn to complete mush when they meet a softly snoring baby in a buggy. Yes, Arlo has really fallen asleep. I was slightly worried how he might take to being confined to a buggy for most of the day since the thing he enjoys most at the moment is crawling. But he appears to find the fashion world at least as fascinating as his toys. He’s happily cooing to himself, which I take to mean: Fabulous, darling, fabulous! Eventually, he tires from all of the attention, music and lights and I get a chance to take a proper look around the place. Brands that caught my eye at Seek: Folk, especially the women’s wear. Brosbi, especially the shirts and notebooks. PB0110, especially the small wallets. And pretty much everything from Soulland.
The minute we step back outside, Arlo promptly wakes up and asks for a break. OK, so he loudly demands one. We’re skipping Premium in favor of a café pitstop and I’m beginning to enjoy going at his pace. I’ve certainly never stopped to eat as much as I am during this fashion week. The new Sabrina Dehoff showroom is on our way home, so we stop for a visit and Arlo gets immediately picked up by a bunch of swooning women, who take him off me as I take off at least one of the three layers of clothing I’ve wrapped myself in (why couldn’t his first fashion week have been in the summer, why?).
In general, people are being incredibly helpful to us this week. They open doors, carry my bags, find a better seating for us or look after the little one when I’m taking pictures. One friend even takes over pushing the buggy for a while, because he wants to, and I quote, „test-drive the ride.“ It’s an immense relief to have so many helping hands when two arms don’t seem quite enough.
What no-one can relieve me of: my hangover on Wednesday morning. Four glasses of wine and five hours of sleep don’t mix very well. Thankfully, the Capara show doesn’t start until noon, where Arlo takes such a liking to his new, noise canceling headphones, that he almost instantly goes down for a nap. By the time we get to the Hien Le presentation, he’s however decided that headphones are stupid (he currently has the attention span of a goldfish. So he basically fits right in with the fashion crowd, ahem). He also won’t sit still on my lap and would much rather “help“ me take pictures. Note: It’s even more impossible to take sharp images of walking models when your baby keeps swiping his hand across the iPhone screen. It’s pure luck that the snap of my favorite Hien Le look turns out well: a flouncy lilac skirt paired with a navy sweater and coat.
When we get to the VOGUE salon, Arlo wants to be on my arm and only on my arm. I take a quick spin around the room with my 9 kilo bundle and note down my favorites – Bobby Kolade’s designs and jewelry from Gisa Golpira – before finding a quiet corner to give the baby his bottle. He’s tired now and to be honest, so am I. Was this really such a good idea, to bring him with me everywhere? Shouldn’t I have taken him to his playgroup instead today? Will anybody mind if I skip the next two appointments and just go home? The question of how to do what’s best for both of us will keep coming up in the next months, strike that, years. And it’s not an answer, but it does feel good to hear other mothers say to me this week: It’s great that you’re doing this. Because I like my job and I‘m a little bit proud of how we’ve managed so far this week. With little sleep, a lot of improvisation and a papa who says: sure, I’ll come home early tonight and take Arlo, then you can see the Kaviar Gauche show. After a departure to Paris, the two designers Johnna Kühl and Alexandra Fischer-Roehler are back in Berlin with a bridal couture collection full of dresses that are so diaphanous look breathed onto the models’ bodies. The strategically placed embroideries on barely there silk fabrics wouldn’t provide enough cover for me on my wedding day. But they’re at the same time so unapologetically romantic that you can’t help but dream of a fabulous party. After the show, me and some girlfriends hail a cab (cabs! I’d almost forgotten about those) and stop for a cocktail at the new The Store at Soho House. When I get home, I could very easily stay on the couch. Or should I go to the ZeitMagazin party instead? I don’t often get the chance to spend an evening away from home… I give my man a kiss and head back out. A friend tells me that night that she’s pregnant and there we are, in the middle of a massive party, talking baby names and kindergarten and midwifes and suddenly that feels wonderfully normal to me. In the end, I forget to tell her that it’s one of the beautiful things about being a mom: those moments when your old life and your new life become one.
On Thursday I’m taking Arlo and James to the airport. They’re going on a boys’ holiday to see James’s family in London. And I’m staying behind in Berlin. For five days. Alone. My friend Alexa has this idea that all I’ll be doing is dancing around the apartment in a fluffy white bathrobe, wearing a face mask and singing Supremes songs, and that’s really not far off from my idea of a perfect weekend. Still, when I say good-bye to my boys at the Check-In, my heart keeps wanting to jump out my throat. It’s the first time I’ll be apart from the little one since he was born. Quick, think how much I’ve been looking forward to this weekend, to having time to myself, to reading the papers, to having a massage, to sleeping, aaaaaahhhhhhh, sleeping. There, I feel a little better already. When I go to the show tent at Brandenburg Gate for the final time that afternoon, it feels strange not pushing a buggy in front of me. Then again, I’ve finally got both hands free for take proper pictures: of the want-to-wear-it-now collection from White Tail. And the would-wear-it-all-day-long-if-I-was-a-Hollywood-star collection from the sublime Marina Hoermanseder. Maybe I’ll even find some time to download the photos and write a few blogposts tonight. Something I haven’t managed to do this week. You can’t do it all after all.”