News / Europe

Dirndls and Brass - Oktoberfest Mania Spreads Beyond Beer Festival

Young women in traditional Bavarian dirndls pose at Munich's Oktoberfest October 3, 2013.
Young women in traditional Bavarian dirndls pose at Munich's Oktoberfest October 3, 2013.
Reuters
A decade ago, waitresses and a few locals at Oktoberfest were the only ones in dirndls, the Bavarian peasant-inspired, corseted dresses featuring white blouses and colored aprons, and trendy Berliners wouldn't dream of dancing to oompah music in public.
 
Now, Munich's annual beer festival is a sea of traditionally-clad tourists, with revelers from as far away as Canada, Mexico and Iran donning dirndls or the equivalent outfits for men - lederhosen and checked shirts.
 
“I wanted to be part of the local atmosphere. Everyone was talking about it,” said Lindsey Zhang, a 20-year-old from New York who is studying in Paris. She came to Oktoberfest with her friend Marina Teixeira from Sao Paulo. Both women bought dirndls near the Oktoberfest tents for about 50 euros.
 
“Everybody told me it would be nicer if I wore it,” Teixeira said. “Otherwise you'll look like a tourist.”
 
Pippa Middleton, the sister of England's Dutchess of Cambridge, wore a dirndl this week at a festival in Austria. Guests donned dirndls to the July wedding party in Vienna of star stylist Caroline Sieber, with English actress Emma Watson gaining praise from German Vogue for her red number.
 
This is not the first time that “Trachten,” as the traditional clothes are called, have become trendy. But today's revival is the most pronounced, said Simone Egger, a professor in folklore and ethnology at Munich's Ludwig Maximilians University.
 
“It's taken on a whole new dimension,” Egger told Reuters. She said globalization had created a desire for people to seek out local specialities.
 
“What's old is cool now,” said Isabel Seidel, a 25-year-old student from Berlin at Oktoberfest.

It started with a wedding

From a horse race held as part of the 1810 wedding celebration of Bavarian King Ludwig I, Oktoberfest has grown into a 16-day event where millions descend on the Bavarian capital to down liters of beer, eat roast chicken, sausages and pretzels, and dance on benches to brass bands.
 
Copycat mini-Oktoberfests have sprung up in other German cities, European capitals like London and Dublin and across the United States from Seattle, Washington, to Columbus, Ohio. Websites like mydirndl.com import clothes from Germany and Austria to help.
 
Bobbie Floerchinger, the site's manager, says more and more Americans are donning traditional outfits for events put on by German-American clubs and German restaurants.
 
“It's a community of people celebrating heritage, enjoying themselves and bringing culture and history into their lives,” said Floerchinger, an American with German roots.
 
Berlin-based brass band Die Wilden Buben (Wild Boys) are riding a wave of enthusiasm for all things Bavarian. They are booked solid for September and October.
 
“People are just really into the folk music and customs of Bavaria right now. They just can't get enough of the Oktoberfest stuff in Berlin,” said Markus Hoffmann, the band's manager.
 
Dirndl dollars
 
Munich's traditional Trachten specialists like Lodenfrey and Angermaier sell a range of dirndl styles, from around 60 euros for a basic version to 1,000 euros for a couture silk number. Fashion houses like Hugo Boss, Esprit and Escada have their own collections.
 
German retailer C&A carried 100 different styles this year, up from 80 last year.
 
“It's a clear trend, as a retailer we have to grasp that,” a spokesman told Reuters, adding that shorter skirts and lace-covered aprons were especially popular now.
 
Online fashion retailer Zalando offers 145 different dirndls, while Ebay Germany said it sold one every 43 seconds last week.
 
Underwear maker Triumph, whose corsets and bras are worn under the figure-flattering dirndls, says sales are improving as Trachten are donned beyond Oktoberfest.
 
“Also it's being worn by people of all ages at other events like wine festivals,” a spokeswoman said.
 
Corporate Germany is on the bandwagon too.
 
Lufthansa international flight crews wear Trachten on select flights from Munich in September and Adidas has even designed an away kit for the Bayern Munich soccer team based on the traditional dress.
 
“Everybody wants to take part,” professor Egger said. “It's a way of sharing a regional connection and it’s become a consumer event.”

You May Like

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid