Earlier this year I shared the story of how I bought my first “dirndl” or tracht. Because my family is not Bavarian, I didn’t want to buy a Traditional Dirndl. Instead, I hoped to find something that would reflect the region my family came from in Germany, while still maintaining a recognizable German style. I looked at a LOT of pictures of German Clothes. One day I came across Gregor Hohenberg’s book, “Traditional Couture”, and my jaw dropped. The photographs in this amazing book are phenomenally beautiful, and show that there is so much more to German Fashion history than Lederhosen…
Not Just Pictures of German Clothes
The complete title of Hohenberg’s compilation is Traditional Couture; Folkloric High Fashion in Germany. The Berlin photographer spent 5 years traveling around Germany photographing people in the Tracht of their region, much in the way he would normally photograph fashion models in Couture. These traditional clothes are, in a sense, the original couture… hand made clothing made from high quality fabrics with a skill that transcends the every day. Beading, lace, pleats and elaborate head pieces show off the talents of long gone seamstresses. These are clothes that were meant to last a lifetime and beyond.
One thing I found interesting is how traditional clothing was designed to non-verbally communicate. By looking at a dress, you could tell not only where a person was from, but also their marital status. All of this information is coded into color, beading and lace. Clothing reflected the region and environment… it was made with the materials available. You also see differences in Catholic and Protestant areas, Protestants tended to dress in darker, plainer clothes.
Today these priceless pieces are worn with pride by people who inherited them. The Tracht are loved and carefully preserved through the generations, they are still taken out for special events and celebrations.
Traditional Couture; Folkloric High Fashion in Germany
Most of all, this is book of fabulous photos. Each Regional Tracht is given an introduction explaining what is being worn, down to the smallest details…. and then come the pictures.
Photos of the Tracht worn by their owners… old and young, men and women. There are close ups of all parts of the costume … beading, lace, layers of linen and wool petticoats. The differences in all of the Tracht is astonishing!
The Dachauer Tracht is made with 26 feet of woolen fabric, to give women that voluptuous look! While the Monchguter Tracht from Ruegen was primarily black with a black bonnet to reflect the Reformation and chaste lifestyle. Then there is the showstopping St Georgener Tracht crown… worn by virgins on special holidays from their Confirmation until Marriage. This astonishing piece weighed up to 6 pounds, and is covered with beads and mirrors.
Honestly, this book is eye-candy for anyone who loves traditional German clothing, costume and history. These lovely photos are a great reminder that Germany is a diverse country with different style from top to bottom… all are beautiful…and we don’t all wear a Dirndl and Lederhosen. Thanks to Gregor Hohenberg who captured all of these wearable works of art to preserve them for future generations.
Buy Traditional Couture; Folkloric High Fashion in Germany Here
This large coffee table book is available new and used from Amazon.
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