Alina Knips-Kluin runs the fashion blog K Fashion Clothing and a lovingly designed boutique in Dusseldorf’s Pempelfort district. In a bright red smart BRABUS fortwo cabrio, she will show us the magic of Dusseldorf: a city that seems to be in the process of reinventing itself.
The wind blows a few wispy patches of cloud across the sky. An atmospheric play of muted blue-gray shapes on the façade of Neuer Zollhof in Dusseldorf’s MedienHafen, the city’s modernized media harbor. This morning, starchitect Frank O. Gehry’s three-part complex by the harbor’s edge is still relatively quiet – we are the first visitors of the day. The building’s silvery stainless-steel cladding reflects our bright red smart BRABUS fortwo cabrio: The splash of color enlivens the break-of-day setting. Alina Knips-Kluin emerges from the car.
Hi, Alina. Thanks for taking us on this tour. Is there a reason we’re starting at MedienHafen?
Alina Knips-Kluin: Yes, this place has undergone a fantastic transformation. And although MedienHafen is right in the center of town, it’s not nearly as crowded or busy, which is something I really appreciate. Here, on the waterfront, history meets progress and historic quays are rubbing shoulders with modern architecture. The Neuer Zollhof complex is especially impressive and there’s a reason why it’s become the city’s new landmark. I used to live right across from the Gehry buildings – and it was amazing.
You are a born-and-bred Dusseldorfer. What defines this city for you?
Alina Knips-Kluin: It’s true, I grew up here – and all my friends and family that still live here make Dusseldorf such a great place to be. In terms of geography, I love the Rhine River. It might be a bit of a cliché, but a river really contributes to a city’s particular character.
Dusseldorf is still one of Germany’s key fashion cities, although some of the international scene seems to focus on Berlin. What are the latest fashion trends to emerge from Dusseldorf?
Alina Knips-Kluin: Dusseldorf’s definitely still a heavyweight when it comes to fashion since it keeps evolving new styles and trends. And while the city hosts many renowned trade fairs, it also produces countless fresh ideas like the VOGUE Fashion‘s Night Out in September when many stores and boutiques will stay open until midnight. Or take designer Gesine Jost: She’s a strong proponent of upcycling, reusing fabrics and materials. She turns perfectly usable materials scavenged from old or broken cars into wearable one-of-a-kind pieces.
Let’s take a closer look at her collection – what’s your favorite Gesine Jost piece?
Alina Knips-Kluin: The flight jacket assembled from old airbags. The wind- and waterproof fabric looks and feels incredible – a little bit like parachute silk, but firmer and tougher. The airbags’ original discolorations, seams, or prints turn each finished piece into something unique. Gesine also incorporates seat belts into her designs. Her studio exemplifies the new Dusseldorf: She shares a generous space with other artists, sculptors, and designers in the Friedrichstadt district, situated in a former photography workshop with a fantastic skylight.
Let’s move on. Do you know a good spot for lunch?
Alina Knips-Kluin: Off the top of my head, I’d recommend SchnellVeg on Bagelstraße in the Pempelfort district. It’s a vegetarian restaurant that also makes omnivores like me feel very welcome. Chef Max Thyson loves to create tasty, healthy, and versatile versions of popular street food classics. I can definitely recommend the tofu burger, served on homemade buns and with a side of fresh coleslaw. Along with it, try the homemade lemonade. The entire area is pretty cool with plenty of interesting spots to be discovered.
After savory comes sweet, don’t you think?
Alina Knips-Kluin: Then let’s head to Yomaro near Carl’s Square, it’s right on the border of the city’s famous Old Town. They serve yummy frozen yogurt with excellent toppings like fresh fruit or banana bread. The best thing about it: You can take a quick stroll across the nearby farmers’ market boasting beautiful blooms, fresh and seasonal product, and plenty of delicacies every day. Or check out Carl’s Square itself and the many adjoining stores and galleries. It’s the beating heart of authentic Dusseldorf.
How do you get around in the city?
Alina Knips-Kluin: I used to drive a smart fortwo – huge fun for driving in the city and nipping through traffic. Now, we need a larger car to transport our boutique’s purchases and I really miss my practical two-seater. Especially today, where I get to spend a summer’s day in a bright red convertible.
We ride the new smart BRABUS fortwo cabrio in trofeo red along one of the North-Rhine Westphalian capital’s most beautiful boulevards, the Joseph-Beuys-Ufer bordering the Rhine River. On a day like this, the smart BRABUS‘ soft top – ready to open and close at any speed – remains open. We’re directly exposed to the pure and sporty sound of the 109 hp turbo engine. Yet there’s no need to test the motor’s limits today: Trailing the fashion city’s automotive runways, the elegant and powerful design of the Xclusive line already draws plenty of admiring glances.
We’re heading for your own boutique, La Parisienne, which is one of your main projects besides the K Fashion Clothing blog. How do you align the analog and digital aspects of your work and life?
Alina Knips-Kluin: Actually, it works pretty well. I opened the boutique in May 2014, together with my husband Mike. We sell plenty of playful dresses and other items from all over Europe. What makes us unique is that we only have one or two of each piece – once they are gone, they are replaced by new items. Mike knows the business; he used to run a successful menswear boutique in Eindhoven. La Parisienne, on the other hand, is a real girls’ store with plenty of pink and little hearts. The blog, on the other hand, started out as a hobby, but has since taken off to the point where we also run it professionally – we have linked our digital business to the store. After all, all outfits sold in the boutique are also published on our blog and via social media. And while I don’t see everything through the eye of a blogger, I am happy to share beautiful personal finds with our readers and followers.
Your store is located in Pempelfort which seems to have become a real it-district. What about your customers – do they live nearby or travel from further afield?
Alina Knips-Kluin: We have plenty of local regulars because Pempelfort has undergone a lively rejuvenation. But we also get people who came across the store on Instagram or other media. Many of them are young fashion-loving girls – but we get people from all ages, really.
So, you probably also have a top coffee spot within easy reach …
Alina Knips-Kluin: Sure, just head a few blocks towards the city center where you’ll find Die Kaffee on Schwerinstraße. A few years ago, owner Olga decided to realize her dream and open her own roasting facility and espresso bar. Now, she offers more than 20 different bean types and roasts, while focusing on the essentials. The result is an amazingly authentic, no frills atmosphere. Guests can bring their own cake or breakfast, but I usually just go to enjoy a simple coffee with milk – you can’t beat that.
And what about dinner? Any recommendations?
Alina Knips-Kluin: You should definitely give Phoenix a try. They really hit the spot with the chic 1960s styling – the team has a great eye for the place’s overall mood and all those little details. The restaurant is situated on the ground floor of the Dreischeibenhaus, a former Thyssen high-rise near the central Hofgarten and right next to the Schauspielhaus theater. The building itself, a lovingly restored 1950s Modernist classic, is also worth a visit; especially the impressive lobby. Director Tom Tykwer shot some of the Cloud Atlas scenes with Halle Berry here.
Let’s finish the day with an outlook: What’s on your schedule for the near-ish future?
Alina Knips-Kluin: It’s always been our mission to design our lives in a way that allows us to work from anywhere. Right now, we enjoy having a homebase, but we also love to travel because we always return with plenty of new ideas and inspirations. Since my husband is from the Netherlands, we can easily imagine living in Holland. My motto is: You can only arrive if you’ve been away.
Alina Knips-Kluin discovered her passion for fashion after studying sport and economics. Together with her husband Mike Kluin, she runs the fashion blog K Fashion Clothing and the boutique La Parisienne in Dusseldorf-Pempelfort.
Local Secrets Dusseldorf:
La Parisienne Dusseldorf
Collenbachstraße 1, 40476 Dusseldorf
Food and drink
Schwerinstraße 23, 40477 Dusseldorf
YOMARO Frozen Yogurt
Carlsplatz 6B, 40213 Dusseldorf
Bagelstraße 130, 40479 Dusseldorf
Dreischeibenhaus, 40211 Dusseldorf
Burgallee 1, 40489 Dusseldorf
Markt am Carlsplatz
Carlsplatz, 40213 Dusseldorf
Neuer Zollhof, 40221 Dusseldorf