The saying goes that the clothes make the man. I’ve never put much thought into it, but to a degree it’s true, at least upon first impressions. People do judge you on how you’re dressed, and 85-year-old Ali Akdeniz is well aware of that and on top of his fashion game. The Turkish immigrant who has resided in Berlin since he was 40 is one of the city’s best dressed citizens and is the focus of award-winning fashion blog What Ali Wore.
Since 2012, Ali and the blog’s creator, Zoe Spawton, have met at the cafe where Zoe used to waitress. She told NPR that she would always notice the dapper gent when he walked by in the morning and the two became friends. Ali says that he’s always been a snappy dresser and gone a step above to dress to impress.
“I’ve always loved fashion, particularly my own fashion,” Ali says. “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.”
Zoe asked Ali if she could take his photo and began to make a routine of snapping a photo of Ali’s different outfits. It’s a flattering request to Ali and he’s just as happy to oblige today as he was two years ago. “I knew when Zoe greeted me for the first time that she’s good’en. But then, I tip generously for my coffee, right boss?”
One of the more unique things about the friendship between Ali and Zoe is the language barrier. Zoe is an Australian native and only speaks a little German, which means a lot of guesswork goes into their conversations and she finds out new nuggets about his colorful life as the language barrier slowly narrows. Just recently she learned that in his younger days he worked in the circus as a sword-swallower and fire-breather.
Up until recently, Ali worked up to six days a week but found time to speak with NPR on the blog that has won The LEAD award which is German award for design.
GQ, you just found your next issue’s cover model.