Aeverything is unchanged. There’s the chair the diva sat on to get her makeup done. There’s the mirror she’s been able to see herself in, and next to it is a jar of face powder that was made especially for her, with the terse caption: Knef.
If Germany’s most famous film star of the post-war years, and that was Hildegard Knef, before she later became at least as successful as a singer and author, would rise again, she could – as she did often enough during her lifetime – move to Helmstedter Strasse in Berlin-Wilmersdorf and had her chauffeured to the star make-up artist René Koch, in order to still feel at home there twenty years after her death. Of course that won’t happen, because for the big Knef it’s only been raining red roses in film star heaven since her death. But probably nowhere is the memory of Hildegard Knef as alive, she seems to be as present as in the lipstick museum of her longtime make-up artist, confidant and professional companion René Koch. There are people who can create the illusion around them that they are being illuminated by an imaginary spotlight. These people don’t step onto a stage, they are their own mobile venue. When the door to the huge Berlin apartment on the first floor in Helmstedter Strasse opens and René Koch suddenly appears in the entrance, flanked by employee Christian Schmid, waving his hands to surprise the previously announced dog visit with a treat, then more than one headlight comes on. That’s what you call stage presence. Or charisma.
The lipstick gives attitude!
And how do you describe a pair of pants that could never be jogging pants, but are somehow super chic, perfectly fitting sports pants? Completed with white dress shirt and light colored waistcoat. The slightly tinted glasses are his trademark anyway. René Koch, an institution in Berlin social life for decades, appears ageless, elegant and lively in a way that can only be achieved with a mixture of discipline and joie de vivre. And a boyish directness that you could call Berlin. “But of course the lipstick is a phallic symbol. It’s red and gets bigger as you unscrew it. But more importantly, the lipstick is political. You have to write that! He gives women attitude. He gives them self-confidence. A woman wearing lipstick is viewed seven seconds longer than a woman without lipstick. That is scientifically proven. And what can’t happen in seven seconds? And anyway: Red mouth makes a slim waist!” When you sit in the salon of the Lipstick Museum for the first time, sunk in the depths of cream-colored sofas, surrounded by sparkling showcases, with walls papered with framed photos and posters, illuminated by crystal chandeliers and the one suitable for the stage Listening to René Koch’s monologue (“I’m a cosmetic medium”), you might have to take a deep breath first. It’s all very amazing. Books, catalogues, photocopied press material and oversized lipstick models are stacked on the large table. In between all this, rose petals are decoratively scattered. Then, suddenly emerging from the labyrinthine depths of the apartment, Dieter Stadler, the curator of the house, appears. “Mr. Stadler studied art history,” explains René Koch, whose professional passion for collecting began with perhaps the most inconspicuous object in his collection, the Volkslipstick, which Knef advertised in the early 1950s with the slogan “Well, I think it’s gorgeous – this VL” and the back then it cost 1.50 DM.