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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More