Postcards from Hamburg: Canadian singer Charlotte Cardin on the city's sights and sounds
Visiting Germany's second city for Chanel's annual Métiers d'Arts fashion show, Canadian chanteuse Charlotte Cardin explores the historic charm and contemporary culture that inspired designer Karl Lagerfeld's first presentation in his hometown
Photography by Hudson Hayden
Hamburg in December abounds with Christmas markets, holiday comfort food, warm sweaters, warm people and warm wine. The locals are very kind and open-minded. Tourists are welcomed as friends and people are eager to show you how wonderful and unique their city is.
First stop on our tour of the city was the Steinway piano factory, where learning about the company's philosophy and really grasping the complexity of its craftsmanship added an extra layer of affection to my favourite instrument. I had played a Steinway piano before, but in a totally different mindset. I was unaware of all the elaborate work involved and the fine tuning required. Three years of meticulous handcraft bring about these true works of art.
I had the pleasure of seeing the city from the land and from the water, and I must admit it is beautiful from both. The outside of the Elbphilharmonie, as seen from the river, is intricate and quite impressive. Its external surface is just a tease to its almost alien interior.
Café Paris is the typical French bistro – delicious food served in a beautiful setting.
Krameramtsstuben is the most adorable alleyway and a Hamburg landmark. The narrow brick courtyard separates some of the oldest townhouses in the city, with their dollhouse shutters and a truly charming vibe. The mulled wine also takes it up a notch!
When I think of Hamburg, I see the buildings encircling the lake. I was lucky enough to stay in a lakefront hotel, the Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten, with an enchanting view of the green copper roofs across the water.
Attending the Chanel show in designer Karl Lagerfeld's hometown was an artistic revelation for me. I had never seen a high-fashion show as a member of the audience and, frankly, didn't expect such stunning complexity and spark in all parts of the exhibition. I was sitting in one of the most beautiful venues I had ever seen, the Elbphilharmonie concert hall, watching elegant boys and girls walk down five storeys of balconies in exquisite garments.
I was so captivated by the breathtaking music from the Rezonanz orchestra, led by Oliver Coates (who, by the way, is the brain behind the orchestral spine on Radiohead's most recent album, A Moon Shaped Pool). As cliché as it may sound, I left the 20-minute show with an urge to write music, which I hadn't had in a really long time.
The nautical influences in the collection were a perfect wink to the city, which is known for its busy port. Thick wool turtlenecks and knee socks, a predominance of navy and neutral colours, black tobacco pipes and fishermen hats, were the first looks to come out and set the mood for the show.
The after-party was a mix of Tilda Swinton dancing, and beautifully dressed guests mingling over Perrier-Jouët champagne. Meanwhile, I was having a dead-serious conversation with my manager about career strategy and vision. We had been so stimulated by everything we had seen, and by the crazy-talented people we had just spent the last few days with, that we came up with a bunch of new ideas for our upcoming shows and music.
The Globe and Mail Style Advisor and Charlotte Cardin travelled to Hamburg as guests of Chanel. The company did not review or approve this article prior to publication.
Café Paris: A dramatic tiled ceiling makes this space one of the most glamorous rooms in the city. Across the street, reservations are essential for its neighbouring cocktail bar, Le Lion. cafeparis.net
Fairmont Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten: On the shores of the Inner Alster Lake, this hotel offers views of the Rathaus (city hall) and Hamburg's famous steeples across the water. Room rates start at €295/night. fairmont.com
Hotel Atlantic Kempinski:Perhaps best known for playing a supporting role in the Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, this hotel is within walking distance of many of Hamburg's top galleries and museums. Room rates start at €147.21/night. kempinski.com
Krameramtsstuben:The oldest buildings in central Hamburg once housed the widows of local merchants and are now home to souvenir shops and a charming restaurant serving traditional German fare. krameramtsstuben.de
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