"Das Mädchen, das aus der Stille kam"
"The Girl who came from a world of silence"
Fiona Bollag is one of those girls, vibrant and pretty, with a wide smile and bubbly personality. Even if she wasn't a bestselling author, she would be famous. She has about a million friends, all over the world - friends who champion for her success. Her charisma captivates, her youthful optimism brightens your day. It is hard to imagine that she spent the first sixteen years of her life in silence, never hearing her twinkle of laughter that has charmed so many.
"100 most important Swiss people" - Schweizer Illustrierte
Deafness could not contain Fiona's desire to be heard. At 23, Fiona Bollag became an author. Within two months, her first hardcover run became a bestseller in Germany. Dutch, Polish and Estonian editions followed. Europe had fallen in love with Fiona and her inspirational story.
"At 16 I got Cochlear Implants on right side. Since then my life has completely changed. I could hear much better than before, which I did not expect. For example, I had never heard bird singing in my life! One spring day on our balcony, I asked my mom if those were bird songs. She started to cry..... I just learned to not give up, what I wanted, I got it. I wanted to hear better, that's why I chose the surgery. Five years later, I got my second surgery on my right ear. You need both ears to hear! I may struggle more than other people who are healthy, but I never give up. There are always up and downs, my handicap bothers me at times. Sometimes I wish I could contact people more easily--thank goodness for Blackberry!"
Fiona's love for fashion has solidly - and surprisingly - granted her the opportunities to express herself. She never planned to be an author. She is proof that if you are passionate enough about something, your dreams will come true. Fashion - in the form of a Hermes Birkin - changed her life.
"Les magazines de mode s’entassaient dans l’appartement. Un jour, mon oeil exercé détecta une erreur dans l’édition allemande de Glamour: on avait confondu le sac Birkin d’Hermès avec un sac Kelly! «Je n’en crois pas mes yeux», me disais-je à moi-même, «un magazine de mode qui commet une méprise aussi grossière!» J’envoyai ma critique par courrier électronique à Peter Hummel, reporter en chef de Glamour à Munich. Je terminai par ces mots: «Prière de ne pas téléphoner, je n’entends pas bien.»"
"The fashion magazines were piled in the apartment. One day, my trained eye detected an error in the German edition of Glamour: they had confused the Hermes Birkin bag with a Kelly bag! 'I cannot believe my eyes, I thought to myself , 'a fashion magazine who makes such a large mistake!' I sent my complaint via email to Peter Hummel, chief reporter of Glamour in Munich. I concluded with: 'Please do not call, I cannot hear well.'"
Peter Hummel contacted Fiona, curious of her statement. After hearing her story, he featured her in the magazine. The fervor the article created came to the attention of a German publisher, Ehrenwirth, who suggested Fiona draft her story.
"Le livre est sorti début octobre 2006 pour la Foire du Livre de Francfort. Sur la page de garde, on pouvait lire: copyright by Fiona Bollag. Mon rêve s’était réalisé et si mon nom ne figurait pas comme label sur une robe de soirée, il ornait tout de même un livre que j’avais écrit."
"The book was released in early October 2006 at the Book Fair in Frankfurt. On the cover page, it read: copyright by Fiona Bollag. My dream had come true. Even if my name does not appear on a label of an evening gown, it adorns a book I wrote."
Her book, Das Mädchen, das aus der Stille kam, is only Fiona's first step in self-expression. Although she is looking for an American publisher, fashion remains her passion.
"My paternal grandparents had a boutique in Lugano over 40 years. French celebrities would shop there. My grandmother would go to Paris and Milan fashion weeks as a buyer.
I am inspired by classic style like Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Jackie O. My mother told me who those people were instead of bedtime stories of fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm. I also grew up with French and Italian Vogue. My aunt sold one of the oldest French Vogues to Dior designer John Galliano! Her wedding gown was by Karl Lagerfeld from the 60s, before he became famous. I am also inspired by my mother, she has good taste. She knows what will be in style before it becomes popular! I learn a lot from her."
Fiona is currently a fashion marketing student at Parsons. Her goal is to become a stylist. Fiona is often praised as a fashionista. Reporters often assume she is wearing designer clothes, but she dresses on a budget. She wants to help people learn how to mix and match their clothes and stay away from trendiness so they can be stylish without sacrifice. "Classic chic" is her mantra. Fashion has a transformative power: it helped Fiona change her life. She wants to use it to help people change their lives, either by helping them have a more positive self image, or by giving them the flight of fantasy to make their lives more colorful.
Fiona will graduate in December 2010. She is a firm believer in positive thinking. Her advice is: "Don't give up, be an optimist, you always can get something what you want, either with handicap or without. Being friendly, charming and helpful!"
"My favorite quotation is from Walt Disney: "If you can dream it, you can do it". And I will not give up. My book, published three years ago, is about my life, the perseverance to not give up."
From the girl who came from a world of silence to authoring the book Das Mädchen, das aus der Stille kam to being on the cover of Reader's Digest in Europe, Fiona's journey is an inspiration, full of promises and surprise. Fiona is embarking on a new phase in her life, trying to make it big in the fashion industry - Birkin in hand - and you cannot help but to be drawn into to her new venture, cheering her on.