I first met Claus Jahnke, the Vancouver-based fashion collector of German and Austrian fashion and fashion artefacts, in 2010, a few month before my first book on Berlin fashion, Berliner Chic, came out. He invited me to his house and showed me his incredibly rich collection of Berlin- and Vienna-made clothes from the 19th and 20th centuries that have migrated across the Atlantic ocean during the multiple immigration waves from Europe to North America.
This fall, after completing the third book in the Urban Chic book Series, Montréal Chic (out next summer), I met with Claus again in preparation for the Fashion Symposium that I organized at the Museum of Vancouver in November 2015, and he was kind enough to show me some more treasures from his very impressive collection.
One of my favourite pieces was the dress designed by Emilie Flöge, the Viennese artist, designer, and companion of Gustav Klimt, whom Klimt immortalized in his famous, blue oil painting from 1902.
One of the stunning pieces that Claus presented at the Fashion Symposium was a coat he recently acquired, designed by Goetz in Berlin-Kurfürstendamm from the 1920s.
The coat was so well preserved that the white fur, the velvet lining, and the embroidery are still intact, almost a hundred years later.
Claus also presented a gentlemen’s dressing gown from around 1900, designed by C. M. Frank in Vienna.
Claus owns the black, beaded dress worn by the German actress Heidi Scharf in the film Und über uns der Himmel (And the Heaven Above Us, 1947), the first film made in the US zone of Berlin after the war.
Heidi Scharf married the film director John Pommer, who was the son of film producer Erich Pommer, and immigrated to the U.S., where she was profiled in LIFE magazine in 1946. She only made two German films after the war and after she immigrated to the U.S.
Another black beaded dress from his collection looks stunning from the outside, but is quite treacherous on the inside, lined with sharp wires that hold the beads in place.
And speaking of fashion victim’s attire, Claus owns spectacular leather footwear from Berlin that must have been impossible to walk in, but amazing to look at.
The Rob Mäschle Schuhmachermeister brand name on the inside of the light brown leather heels with four straps from around 1920 still has the Berlin address inscribed: Zimmerstrasse 21.
The other pair of the beige lace-up shoes date from 1905.