Photography & Text: Marcus Hoffmann
So, a fashion photo story with Dirndl-dresses, set in Bavaria and published through Social Media when Oktoberfest (in Munich) is at its peak. The choice of cars: posh Mercedes cabriolets from the 1960s. But why? This being one of the first DRIVETRIBE fashion stories did make me a bit nervous. My goal to work with cars and (mostly womens') fashion in the furthermost possible aesthetical way was off to a difficult start. The whole Oktoberfest-theme isn’t exactly known for its tasteful display of women. Nevertheless: Bavarian folk dresses, Dirndl, are. I decided to work with a stylistic reminiscence of the Bavarian upper class of some when ‘yesty-year’. Open top cars were their preferable choice; upmost from Mercedes Benz, followed by small Italian and British sports cars – and American Muscle (mostly due to the high post-war presence of the American military in Bavaria). BMW hadn’t anything luxurious without a roof to offer in the 1960s (except for the very pricy and bad selling 507 (252 units build) which did cost as much as the Mercedes 300 SL (3.258 units build)…and it actually was from the 1950s).
Finding the perfect dress – and car. I asked the fashion affine crewmembers for an overview of Bavarian folk dress designers - and I got in contact with George who rents out classic cars daily. He invited me to one of his company’s storage facilities, to find the best car for our Photoshoot. I set up some Profoto flash units simulating different lightning situations, to determine which of the cars would be the best choice for shooting the locations I earlier spotted (regarding the angle of the sun and so on). Obviously, I got distracted by all the toys I brought.
If you look closely, you might spot the disadvantage of a white car in general – and of big edges when the source of light is very hard. If you’re small minded like myself, you probably just see the lovely camera. Funfact: first time I used my very own PhaseOne camera system, instead of renting the gear. To express my joy, I didn’t hesitate to join the dark side of selfies on Instagram.
This is the by far most staged photo ever. Not just because I tried to look casually like a French renaissance painting, but mostly because you can see my notebook at the actual set. Shortly after that photo was taken, my advanced external camera display vanished. George and my assistants decided that the single most helpful thing they could do, was watching old Top Gear videos through my mobile data on that very device. This thievery boosted the speed of my ongoing search for the perfect car dramatically: I opted for the priciest car… and the reddest one. The very rare Mercedes 280 SE (S class cabriolet) with the V8 (1.232 units build) and the not so rare but beautiful Mercedes 190 SL (25.881 units built)
Having two cars gave me the idea – just for authenticity of course – to only use classic cars on the production day. Which turned out being a marvellous idea. You won’t believe how much boot space the S class cabriolet has, if you never tried to fill it up. I was under the impression that we’d have to stock the photo gear, the make-up gear and the styling (five clothing bags; lots of shoes and shoulder bags to choose from) in both cars. Probably all over the passenger room too. But everything did fit in the boot of the S 280 SE.
The Dirndl did fit with ease on top of all the other stuff. There was no crumbling at all – which was good news, since the actual pieces of clothing we brought along got a lot of demand. They had been on a TV production the day before our photo shooting and they were going to be on another TV production the day after. This high demand production madness had been going on for the last three months, since every fashion stylist with the task “get the best Dirndl” tried to get their hands on the few ones from CocoVero. From advertising for financial institutions, over sausages to beer – even the municipal government of the city of Munich used the small fashion label for their PR work. Being not exactly “incredible imaginative” we did as well. Luckily our stylist compensated the lack of variety with stylish accessories, so we still pulled off to be somehow interesting from a fashion perspective.
Top tip for British and German readers: if you’re looking for ways to lose friends and alienate people, try setting up profile photos on your social media accounts in a James Dean-ish way. Don’t look straight into the camera even though everything is staged explicitly for the photo. Have a brilliant and expensive car close by. You can even use this kind of imagery to get very dubious matches for all the wrong reasons on online dating apps.
Side effect: you’ll create true memories of things you kept dreaming about for years. Driving those cars in that environment was even better than I expected it to be. Not because of the worth of the cars… you actually forget that fact immediately – thanks to car-insurances it doesn’t matter if you crash a Diesel Vectra or an automotive icon. It’s the driving style which is forced upon you by the car, which gets you. Not at all precious and obviously not sporty, but relaxed and marvellous because… well… it’s incredible how these basic 60-year-old machines still work flawlessly. It’s really just a beautiful machine meant to move you around in the most pleasant way.
Only one flaw occurred: due to the lack of USB and Bluetooth connectivity Rocktober did hit us hard that day.