The Angel of the Courts

The Angel of the Courts
July 2024

Fashion icon, influencer and grandmother of three, Barbara Engel is taking off once again. Her new shop in the third courtyard of Hackesche Höfe is called HERZSPRUNG.

Anyone who knows the Hackesche Höfe knows her: Barbara Engel. Always elegantly dressed, for the proud owner of 65 hats, some extravagant headgear is an indispensable part of every outfit. In summertime though, she prefers to go barefoot. Even though she lives next door in Sophienstraße, Barbara Engel is the "it girl" of the Höfe. The lively fashionista has found her biotope here, her catwalk, her living room – and her workplace. Most recently, she worked in the store of her friend, the fashion designer Arrey in Hof 4.

Photo top: © rettl1868

„My style in fashion? Classical crazy.”

Barbara Engel

A new start at 71

In spring 2024, she fulfils a long-cherished dream and opens her own shop, HERZSPRUNG, in the Hackesche Höfe. At an age when others are enjoying retirement, Engel is inspired by the magic of a new beginning. However, the 71-year-old young entrepreneur is by no means a newcomer. Almost 50 years earlier, she already ran a successful fashion shop in Hamburg. So she has come full circle. Fashion has always accompanied her life anyway – modeling, styling, her own collections.

Barbara Engel has been providing her now 16,000 Instagram followers with daily photos of her latest outfits, appearances at events and news from her life for years. She is now full of vigor as she promotes her new project. Where does she get the energy? After all, this woman, who seems to live so completely in the present, looks back on a turbulent life in which she was not spared blows of fate.
Herzsprung opening, ©rettl1868
Herzsprung opening, ©rettl1868

A start in life

Barbara Engel is born in 1952 to a wealthy Hamburg family. She spends most of her childhood and youth in boarding schools. At the age of six, she has to witness her father, a passionate racing driver, die in a car racing accident. Her mother remarries – to a textile manufacturer. This brings her into contact with the fashion industry. Initially, however, she trains as a publishing clerk. But soon after graduation, a surprising opportunity arises in the mid-1970s to take over a men's fashion shop that has just opened. Barbara Engel takes it.

A few years later, she also meets her future husband, actor Bernd Herzsprung, in the shop. They marry in 1979 and two daughters are born, Hannah and Sarah. After 10 years, she gives up her business and moves in with her husband in Munich to look after their children.

A look into the photo album, left: with parents, right: with husband and her book of fairy tales
A look into the photo album, left: with parents, right: with husband and her book of fairy tales
Escaping death

After 30 years, the difficult marriage ends in divorce. Barbara Engel starts a new life of her own, appears in the Jungle Camp TV show and moves to Sri Lanka which she always loved.  There she arranges orders from European fashion companies to local textile manufacturers. Then disaster strikes: She falls down three flights of stairs in her home.
She suffers several broken bones and is flown from Sri Lanka to a hospital in Berlin. There she becomes infected with the notorious MRSA hospital germ and is close to death. She has to spend a year and a half in hospital. She is still suffering from the consequences of the accident today.

From then on, she stays in Berlin. Although she hardly knows the city, one of her daughters, the actress Hannah Herzsprung, lives here. And so Engel is later able to watch her grandchildren grow up here.

From candles to kilts

The concept of HERZSPRUNG? "Unique," says Engel. Just like herself. Accordingly, customers can find a very personal selection of different products in the HERZSPRUNG store. Products with a story, preferably produced by people she knows or by herself. Belt straps made in Sri Lanka with her message "Stick together!" are very close to her heart. She is also planning her own vitamin E skin cream.

Other products range from the Berlin Bear candles, which her boyfriend Marcel makes in his living room, to kilts from the Rettl brand in Austrian Carinthia. The innovative traditional costume supplier has set itself the task of establishing the skirt for men in the local traditional attire. Now it wants to conquer the Berlin market from the Hackesche Höfe. Rettl’s boss has also been a long-time friend of Engel’s. In July 2024, he travels with a large entourage to host the big HERZSPRUNG opening party together with Engel. Even the Austrian ambassador attends.

Above: view of the Herzsprung store, below: Her silk ribbons produced in Sri Lanka are Engel's favourite product.
Above: view of the Herzsprung store, below: Her silk ribbons produced in Sri Lanka are Engel's favourite product.