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What Ali Wore

Photographer makes a local stylish dresser an Internet star

January 05th, 2015
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Ali Akdeniz, aged 85, is potentially one of Berlin’s snappiest dressers. Zoe Spawton, a Melbourne photographer who moved to Berlin three years ago, met Ali outside the café where she was waitressing. She started taking photos of his outfits and has now created the blog, What Ali Wore.

Spawton said Ali caught her eye because of his put-together, plucky apparel. One of her favourite outfits is Ali’s tailored beige suit, paired with a pork-pie hat and sheepskin coat. Spawton asked one day if she could take Ali’s photo because she was so intrigued by his outfit. It soon became a daily ritual.

Ali first came to Berlin from his native Turkey 45 years ago. He has always made an effort with his wardrobe and thinks it is particularly important to take pride and care in his choice of outfits, as he gets older. Ali says he has always loved fashion, in particular his own. “But at my age you have to go that extra mile to look good. I’m an upright citizen. I had a respectable career. So that is how I dress,” says Ali.

Ali said he was thrilled when Spawton first asked to take his photo. Despite having a large family back in Turkey, Ali lives in Berlin alone. Spawton is fast becoming a part of his “ersatz” (surrogate) family. There is a language barrier between Ali and Spawton. But slowly as Spawton’s German improves the two are able to chat more and more.

Spawton recently learned that Ali used to be in the circus. Since his days as the circus clown he has also worked as a hairdresser, shoemaker and tailor. Self-reinvention is a part of the immigration experience that both Spawton and Ali share.

In 2013 this unusual partnership won the prestigious LEAD design award. This just goes to show that sometimes, while punks perfect their mohawks and hipsters curate their "look," it takes an outsider's eye to spot Ali's unorthodox street style.

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References and Links

News from Berlin
Berlin Global