This month we had the immense pleasure of interviewing Danish-born Maria Gieseke, who we keep running into at every red carpet in Berlin. She’s best known for her career in the fashion business, where she both made her name for herself as a model and for running her own model agency.
Hey Maria, we’re so happy to have you! Your instagram account tells us you were at the GQ awards last night. Are you a notorious Berlin party hopper?
I’m actually not! I mostly get invited by friends and honestly – I can hardly believe my luck every single time. I’m very thankful to be blessed with such great friends.
What did you do before you came to Berlin?
I was born in a small town called Odense in Denmark, where I made an apprenticeship in the textile industry and became store manager with 18. I then worked 60-hour weeks as a headwaiter for some time, before meeting my ex-husband. I fell in love with a popular hairdresser from Düsseldorf who was touring Denmark. Four months later I moved to Düsseldorf and started curating the stage design and music for my ex-husband’s shows and organised his shops. My first time in Berlin was in 1992. My first impression was that everything was awfully grey.
You now live in Berlin. What changed your mind?
About 4 years ago I accompanied a good friend to a Michael Michalsky fashion show and we had an absolute blast. I realized then how inspiring this city can be and I’ve grown really fond of Berlin since. You can be who you want to be here, there’s no false pretense and the next surprise is never far.
Like when your Iranian taxi driver suddenly starts to rap in german with his own lyrics…
Happens to us all the time. Being well-experienced in the fashion business, what do you think about the thinness-craze?
Absolutely terrible! I’m so happy we’ve been moving on from that non-sense for some years now. At my agency I always made sure my girls ate and they knew what they were eating. Especially in Paris the use of illegal substances isn’t uncommon, which makes it even more important to put your models and their health first. I once had to deal with a photographer who tried to slip drugs in a girl’s water before the shooting, but I got her out before any harm was done. I’m very much against drugs, they do much harm and absolutely no good. Having a model agency means having an enormous responsibility for the young boys and girls and being a role model. It’s a bit like being a mother.
What’s your opinion on the emerging vegan-eating trend?
Everybody has to decide for themselves. A good friend of mine is vegan and she feels great about it. I love down-to-earth meals and these often include a hearty portion of meat. My favourite meal is pork neck with crust, cooked and served by my mother! It’s so meaty you have to belch and sometimes get a stomach ache. It’s the best. I also love simple Danish Smørrebrød.
We hear your meatballs with mashed potatoes are a real hit. Are they really that good?
I don’t like bragging, but I do enjoy cooking. To me it’s like meditation. I often find inspiration on food markets, where I try exotic new fruits or vegetables and get ideas for new dishes. I’m a bit of a culinary adventurer.
What’s your favourite place to eat in Berlin?
What’s a great place to hang out in Berlin?
I love to have green tea at Soho House. It’s the perfect place for quiet contemplation or a nice chat.
Thanks so much for your time, Maria!