The humble Alpine “dirndl” costume, with its distinct white shirt, total skirt and apron, has won new enthusiasts amongst Austrians and overseas fashionistas alike in current years.

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Its folksy charm has now created the historic dirndl and other traditional outfits a key section of Austria’s apparel marketplace, about 70 p.c of which is exported, in accordance to the Chamber of Commerce.

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Even British design and style icon Vivienne Westwood, better known for her provocative punk styles, has been charmed by the dirndl, which also options a near-fitting bodice.

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Now the enduring garment is the star of a new exhibition which traces its journey by way of the years from the countryside to the catwalk.

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The exhibit is becoming held in the Austrian spa town of Bad Ischl, the former summer residence of Emperor Franz Josef and his spouse Elisabeth, identified commonly as Sissi.

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It lies in the Salzkammergut, a stunning area of mountains and lakes which was one particular of the first houses of the dirndl, alongside with neighbouring Tyrol and Bavaria in southern Germany.

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Thekla Weissengruber, the exhibition’s curator, claims the dirndl “is to Austria what the kilt is to Scotland or the kimono is to Japan”.

Prestigious patrons
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It was ladies dwelling on the land who to begin with adopted the cheap, functional costume, whose name derives from a dialect term that can also necessarily mean “girl”.

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But by the end of the 19th century, it was also being worn by females at the imperial courtroom when they flocked to the countryside in summer season.

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“All the things was very corseted in Vienna,” Weissengruber told AFP.

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“On vacation they had been equipped to absolutely free by themselves, with these lighter, brighter types,” she added.

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Hosted in the Marmorschloessl, the “cottage” given to Sissi by her spouse, the exhibition shows how the dirndl has evolved by some 50 illustrations.

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The early, no-frills variations speedily give way to far more elaborate outfits match for those people trying to get an viewers at the imperial villa.

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Angelika Schauer runs a family dirndl-makers in Lousy Ischl that traces its historical past back again to 1895.

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She recollects that her grandfather counted website visitors at court docket among the his clientele.

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“When he was having measurements he was beneath shut enjoy” from the bodyguards who arrived with the well-heeled consumers, she mentioned.

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“He had to chorus from making particular actions”.

‘No a lot more ugliness’
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Throughout the Nazi period, although females have been encouraged to use comparable traditional costume, the term “dirndl” alone was banned, the regime discovering it much too redolent of the “Jewish-operate” clothing business.

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But the dirndl in no way disappeared, with the patrons of the prestigious Salzburg Competition possessing sported it from the 1920s onwards.

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Abroad it was popularised by “White Horse Inn”, a musical established in the Salzkammergut that reached Broadway in 1936.

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It also experienced a lover in screen icon Marlene Dietrich, according to Weissengruber. 

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Together with other common Austrian outfits, the dirndl has seasoned a revival in modern many years, specially at beer festivals.

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Females now “put on the dirndl at any celebration”, mentioned Schauer, with males donning the famed “lederhosen” leather-based breeches.

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Regardless of typically more cost-effective dirndl remaining made in Asia, Schauer’s partner Johannes Topizopoulos suggests that a lot of dirndl enthusiasts favor to acquire nearby, particularly in an age where by men and women want extensive-long lasting, environmentally sustainable garments.

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“The point that it’s hard-wearing suits in with the situations pretty effectively,” he reported.

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Significant-conclusion variations are surely a expensive financial investment: a made-to-measure dirndl can value in between 650 and 1,000 euros ($767 and $1,180), not to point out the versions turned out by trend properties like Westwood’s.

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But, as the exhibition proudly cites the designer as acquiring mentioned in the course of a single go to to Austria, “if just about every woman wore a dirndl, there would be no extra ugliness in the world”.