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

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs