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

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
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 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 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 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.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs