A Tyrolean affair of modernity

As you may have found out in my latest article, Trachten is a phenomenon that has always been dependent on the social zeitgeist, just as any other type of fashion.

By the middle of the 19th century, when the industrial revolution took place, the native dress with its specific means of production and only natural materials began to disappear. Instead, the factory-made fabrics entered the life and conquered the market of clothes due to its reasonable price. In the end of the 19th century, native dress came back to life with a new wave of popularity and national consciousness. In fact, many of today’s well-known national costumes are new creations by Trachten associations. These were founded all over Germany and Austria around 1900.

Nowadays there is a renewed interest in traditional ways of dressing. First and foremost, this means an appreciation for those who have been keeping Trachten alive for generations.

In an article by The Wall Street Journal, I read about Guillaume Henry’s spring show for Carven in Paris, where one could hear what sounded like cowbells as models walked down the runway. The young designer’s dirndl- and lederhosen-inspired ensembles were punctuated by whimsical sandals dotted with jingling silver. The collection immediately transported one to the Tyrolean region of Austria, where Alpine costumes are still worn.

It also brought to mind a great style trick of some of history’s most fashionable and rebellious women: adopting the traditional Tyrolean look as their own. Millicent Rogers, for instance, was introduced to Tyrolean costumes by her first husband, an Austrian count, and then again when she settled in the Arlberg mountains with her third husband.

According to Cherie Burns’s book “Searching for Beauty: The Life of Millicent Rogers” the heiress is said to have adopted traditional Alpine raiment with daring and flair, inspiring Vogue editors and fellow “it girls” of the period to wear Austrian hats, jackets and dresses. Among them was Wallis Simpson, who was so taken by Ms. Rogers’s Tyrolean costumes that she commissioned designers Mainbocher and Schiaparelli to recreate the look for her wedding trousseau.

I would say that none of the clothing pieces I own can keep up with the handsome Tyrolean wool jacket by Giesswein (made in Austria) or my redish tailored Loden jacket, which has been handmade years ago in the Tyrolean mountains. Indeed, many vintage shops own such amazing pieces, that I love wearing for every sort of occasion, combining it in either an elegant or a traditional and casual way.

As it can be seen in Gregor Hohenberg’s photographs, the traditonal Trachten wearers do not seem too nostalgic about a bygone era but simply present the costumes as contemporary clothing (rather than museum goods or carnival outfits). However there is no modernity without access to the past – especially not in fashion.

It is simply a misconception that fashion reinvents itself or is solely inspired by the future. Interestingly, foreign creatives are more likely to use alpine Trachten looks as inspiration than local designers. Following in Coco’s footsteps, Karl Lagerfeld created a collection for Chanel that reinterpreted elements of the Salzburger Trachten costumes. Lagerfeld even rented Castle Leopoldskron in Salzburg to present the Pre-Fall 2015 Collection in a proper setting. The show included Lederhosen worn as hotpants, Janker converted into Chanel jackets and magnificent hats with pheasant feathers. The looks were also shown in Chanel’s 2015 campaign, presented by Cara Delevigne and Pharrell Williams.

Traditional Trachten costumes on Vogue Germany covers in 2018.

And last but not least, some modern Trachten looks that may inspire you to wear more of these unique and high-quality pieces in the future.

Tyrol, Austria

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