Photography & Text: Marcus Hoffmann -|- Styling & Model: Anastasia Sedlick
Two strange activities occure every October on a global scale: Your most likable radio station starts a ‘Rocktober’-theme – to remind you, that you really should have Spotify in your car. And ‘Oktoberfest’ is being celebrated as Germany's only cheerful contribution to western society (besides the car).
Wherever you go- New York, Tokyo, Bangkok, London… you can be sure there’s going to be an Oktoberfest-celebration. Which translates into: let’s drink huge amounts of beer in public while not feeling a bit bad about it. It’s a cultural thing. Crazy Germans. Well actually it’s a Bavarian (South of Germany) thing – or even better: it’s just the folk culture in the region of the northern alps. But let’s still call it ‘Bavarian’. Whenever there is a reason to celebrate traditional people tend to wear their folk costumes.
In the northern and middle parts of Germany you’ll annoy people by asking them to participate in the Oktoberfest-theme – or Rocktober. It’s very much like calling it a ‘British thing’ for men to wear skirts. Everybody but the Scottish will be slightly offended to be affiliated with it – while the lovely people from the north get very unlovely for their culture not being taken seriously. Which is understandable, since it’s not just traditional, fashionable but furthermost enjoyable to see these people wearing dresses. Men and women. Scots and Bavarians.
As a festive dress the Dirndl needs to be as chic as possible to fit into most kinds of social events. Oktoberfest itself shows the wide array of situations in which the Dirndl needs to blend in. Tag along a typical Wiesn-day with Model Anastasia (‘Oktoberfest’ is called by the people of Munich ‘Wiesn’- which stands for grass grounds on which the fest is held): brunch and warm-up at the Four Seasons, meeting with business affiliates, again: warm-up; media event at the Wiesn. Finally, celebrating Oktoberfest with friends at the Wiesn – in a big beer tent, socialising with the upper class in a small and very exclusive wine tent, again: warm-up; partying in an even more exclusive club.
This routine shows that a great Dirndl needs to be truly fashionable. Also: Being hot seems to be linked to a lot of warm-up drinking. Or something like that. The chronology isn’t quite clear.
Nice-to-be-looked-at isn’t the only quality a Dirndl needs to have. Being a product of hundreds of years of folklore still shows its initial approach for this kind of women’s clothing in which they can do house- and most-likely farming work. Actually: the female farmers image is still heavily associated with the Dirndl and vice versa.
The distinction between work-dirndl and celebration-dirndl vanished when the nature of womens' work changed in society. The need for very simple but rugged designs died out and the Dirndl turned into just a fancy dress for many. Even for the fashion brands. It’s quite hard to find a designer who makes traditional Dirndl (with them being truly practical dresses) which are still fashionable products – citing the current fashion. Being absolutely in sync with styles and trends of the contemporary now. It’s a bit like Pickup trucks: when the nature of common work changed (from production to services) car makers got carried away by building fancy trucks, which mostly can’t do what they should be able to (by definition).
The small label CocoVero does a brilliant job on making the perfect Dirndl. How to tell? All the Dirndl we shot are from them. Still not convinced? Hey… We do know our fashion-thingies… but seriously: everybody who’s got qualified knowledge tried to work with the very young label this year. Have a look at our Behind-The-Scenes article to get the full picture, how immensely cherished the still insider-fashion top-tip is. Also: many reasons why we choose Mercs instead of Beamers (Mercedes vs BMW) – while doing a ‘Bavarian’ piece.
The image of Oktoberfest can’t be isolated from Dirndl and beer. The qualities which seem to be likable for the whole world are around ‘lovely lifestyle’, ‘great recreational fun activity’, ‘joyful things in life’ and of course ‘tradition & heritage’. And yes: beer. But let’s forget about the drinking for another second. Let’s concentrate on something truly beautiful: For once everybody likes to see women in extremely comfortable colourful clothing. Dresses in which you can go hiking, bicycling, partying… mostly everything which can be enjoyed with a smile on your face. Regardless of body type or age. And for some lovely people: even regardless of their gender.
Got attacked by ‘Oktoberfest’ at a place where you should have been safe from it? Share your encounters with counterfeit Bavarian culture in the comments.