Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, the district of Mitte ('middle') was a neglected, crumbling backwater.
It is now back with a vengeance, reclaiming its pre-war status as a social and cultural hub. While big labels such as Hugo Boss, Adidas and Wolfgang Joop have opened flagship stores, myriad independent boutiques, galleries and shops are colonising much of the area, tucked away in quiet backstreets and hidden courtyards.
Adddress boutique (Steinstrasse 4, tel: 49 30 2887 3365; www.adddress.de) is an example of Berlin's burgeoning creative talent. Designer Andreea Vrajitoru's timeless modern collections, inspired by the style of the 1920s and 60s, attract customers from around the world. An elegant pleated skirt is priced at Euro195 ($1,939) and fashionable tops cost from Euro79 to Euro139.
Find kimono fabric refashioned for modern use at Sai So (Torstrasse 140, tel: 49 30 347 4530; www.sai-so.com). Austrian Martin Brem has carried on the concept started by his late wife, an avid kimono collector. Sai So, Japanese for 'reconstruct', offers items that are even exported to Japan. A 'geisha' scarf is yours for Euro215, a chic two-piece women's suit Euro2,160.
Celebrity wannabes should head to X Cat Marnie (Rochstrasse 16, tel: 49 30 2434 2344; www.
cat-marnie.com) for star fashionista-endorsed labels such as Ella Moss (worn by Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City), Splendid (the choice of Desperate Housewives) and Ingwa Melero (Paris Hilton's favourite). Separates hit the Euro350 mark and matching footwear Euro220.
Just a few steps away is Breathe-Fresh Cosmetics (Rochstrasse 17, tel: 49 30 2434 2577; www.breathe-cosmetics.com), which specialises in natural and organic beauty products. Lotions and potions from the Organic Pharmacy of London start at Euro39; favourites from the Hamadi line of Los Angeles (products 'tested on actresses, never on animals') cost from Euro36 to Euro47.
Uber Store (Auguststrasse26A, tel: 49 30 6677 9095; www.ueber-store.de) is a concept store, a cross between a shop and a gallery where items change according to the 'curator's' taste. Owner Anja Kantowsky stocks the shop with artworks and design pieces according to her choice of theme. Until August 26 the theme is Freud's concept of the super-ego, which means you can pamper yours with a two-way mirror (Euro139), a set of naked matryoshka nesting dolls (Euro6 to Euro13) or a ring 'suited to the owner's profile' (from Euro353).
Next door, Specler (left; Auguststrasse 28, tel: 49 30 3229 9047; www.specler.de) captures film buffs' favourite moments for eternity. Stills from Fritz Lang's classic Metropolis start at Euro395; digital artworks inspired by films like North by Northwest and Wild at Heart range from Euro130 to Euro500.
Baroque patterns with names such as Rich Bitch and Dutch Pomp are signature items at P van b wallpaper boutique (Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse 17, tel: 49 30 4435 6105; www.pvanb.com). For Euro30 a metre you can take away wall coverings emblazoned with prints ranging from encrypted typographies to erotic scenes hidden in dreamy landscapes.