Modern Dirndl: Chicago designer puts her own spins on the traditional dress
Modern Dirndl or Classic Bavarian Dress?
The Dirndl used to be a traditional dress in Bavaria and some parts of Austria, with many varieties that show regional origin and social class of the woman wearing it.
But recently this old-fashioned garment has become very popular amongst younger persons and many upcoming designers throughout Europe have created fashionable and modern version of the dirndl.
As I already mentioned, some people argue that only a traditional dress is a "real dirndl", but most young people think otherwise.
Erika Neumayer though is the only American dirndl designer that has taken the traditional silhouettes and styles and transformed them into unique and modern dirndls that can easily go from the runway to the Oktoberfest.
Neumayer always has a passion to create, so it came as no surprise to anyone when she decided to study fashion design at Dominican University.
It was there that she was able to travel to Ghana, Africa for a two-week study abroad. That trip, opened my eyes to the world of cultural textiles and dress, she says. It may be cliché, but that trip changed my life.
After that, she participated in the annual Dominican University Fashion Show and took away the coveted Up and Coming Designer award in 2007 and 2008.
Also in 2008, she created three traditional Danube Swabian garments, the cultural dress of her ancestors. This knowledge helped her create the traditional trachten for the American Aid Society (AAS) of German Descendents Youth Group, an organization Neumayer has been a part of since 2005, for their upcoming competition. The group took home first place for their performance and the traditional costume.
Being of German (Donauschwaben) descent, has given her a strong connection with the people and the culture behind the AAS Youth Group and inspired her start her own business, her line of modern dirndls.
What inspires this young designer?
"I am influenced by a variety of things from world history and current events, to artwork and nature," Neumayer says.
"I am inspired by others who stand up for their beliefs and use their art as replacements for their words, such as Marcel Duchamp, Käthe Kollwitz and British graffiti artist, Banksy," she adds.
"My travels also greatly influence my work. Cultural dress and traditional textiles from around the world help me to have a better understanding of my surroundings.
My education at Dominican University has taught me the value of quality workmanship as well as given me the confidence and understanding that I can make a difference in not only the fashion industry but also in the society in which I live.
On her website, www.erikaneumayer.com, she currently offers three collections from her line, Rare, which is a fresh spin on the peasant garment. While some of the designs are very traditional in cut and unique in fabrication, others are a completely new look at the style.
"A Rare dirndl is exactly that, rare," says the Rare website. "It is unique in its fabrication and style and you will not find anything like it in America."
Return from Modern Dirndl to Oktoberfest