February 8, 2010

Fiona Bollag

"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.


  1. Thank you Sonya! I am flattered!!!

    xoxo and see you around!


  2. Fiona, you are an inspiration and have an unique story. Thank you for the interview.

  3. Not to burst any bubble here, but what inspiration are you exactly talking about and an inspiration to whom; what type of people does this story come as an inspiration to?

    When I read this, all I see and deduct from it is that Fiona just like every other deaf person I have met or have heard of, has struggled in their lives but the difference is her ability to afford such expensive surgery and be blessed with the outcomes of it. An inspiration from a person, comes from those who have suffered and continued suffering to get to wherever they are now. Being on the cover of Reader's Digest as a result of writing a book that conspicuously describes the details of the luxury and privilege this young lady had to forego this surgery is not an inspiration at all. An inspiration is hearing about the miserable people who have lost their homes, families, and everything that's precious to them and yet managed to get to places in this world that are way farther than "picking up an editorial mislabeling of an 8,000 dollar handbag".

    She speaks of luxury as if every deaf person who is genuinely struggling to have 10,000 dollar implants cares to know what her Grandmother did or he she knew, what her Aunt wore and who designed her gown. It's awesome that she can speak of those issues so proudly when the real people who deserve appreciation and acknowledgement are not even considered. If you want to take the deaf issue as her inspiration to people then she needs to wait in line with all the other thousand of people whom I have known and met that did not enjoy the luxury she so profoundly speaks of.

    It is sad that she carries her disability and uses it as a means to gain recognition and awareness. Never does she give the deaf a source of hope, she merely flaunters the implants she had, and nowhere does she show a sign of sympathy to those who cannot afford it.

    Neither do I nor the thousand others who read this article care to know about Fiona's impeccable luxury brand orientation, or her ability to name drop some of the most sought after designers in history because I believe that this does not call for a life of suffering nor does she represent the people who have actually suffered and made it without the required resources.

    But I do applaud the effort in trying to move the reader's feelings even though she still has a long way to do that.

  4. Whoever wrote this last comment should really be ashamed. This poor girl was born deaf. She managed to overcome her problem by using the technology of today to hear and to speak. I lift my hat to her that she spent the first 16 years of her life without the implant and developed into a beautiful, caring young lady. Unfortunately, others could have chosen to wallow in their handicap. She spoke up to share her special story and I am sure that it was a real struggle for her on many levels to have not have had the implant sooner (which is by the way standard practice in America - at one year old). There are alwaya worse stories in the world and no one should belittle those stories - but to belittle her is a total injustice and even crual in my opinion.

  5. Whomever wrote the comment from from June 11th is a sad person. If I was more mature and well-mannered I'd tell you to get help. Since I am neither, go **** yourself. Don't speak for the "thousand others who read this article" you dimwit, no one wants you to speak for them. I hope something bad befalls you so someone can remind you how much worse others have it. I sincerely hope that was a just a fit of what I like to call "keyboard warrior syndrome", in which the pseudo-bad ass thinks by posting under anonymous they can get away with saying what the want online without any direct repercussions. You will get your comeuppance.

    On a lighter note I really enjoyed reading this article and learning about Miss Bollag. I actually stumbled upon this article after reading the one you did on Charlotte Casiraghi, which i stumbled on after reading your article about Zoe Kravitz. By weeks end I might have finished your entire blog! Great stuff. Keep it up.

  6. I know Fiona personally and she has an awesome personality and aura that lights up any room.Go Fiona!

  7. Besides what seems to be a tad too much of a personal critic towards Ms. Bollag, I think there are valid arguments in the comment dated June 11 and they are impaired neither by abrasive insults, nor blind, unquestioned admiration. June 11 commenter, you're welcome to get in touch with me via heyran eightyone (numeric) at gmail dot com.

  8. I too know Fiona personally and she is an amazing person who deserves all the recognition that she has gotten and more. Fiona ROCKS!