Maria Steiner is the designer behind the Viennese fashion label Ruins of Modernity. I first came across her designs last summer at the w?atf – What About the Future pop-up store at Pressgasse 28, near Naschmarkt, in Vienna. Organized by Sonja Weinstabel, w?atf showcases young and up-and-coming local designers’ work in Vienna. Maria Steiner’s work stayed with me for a long time and her intriguing label begged to be examined.
I spent some time in Vienna this summer working on research for a book sequel to Berliner Chic. I met different local designers, journalists, academics, and many other people in the fashion industry. I also had a chance to explore the culinary treasures, and show them off to friends who came to visit me there. Here are some of the most memorable ones.
On May 22, 1897, Gustav Klimt led a group of artists to resign the Viennese Künstlerhaus, a state-sponsored art institution under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture. The dispute was not merely a conflict between contrasting aesthetics, but rather a question of value and status of art itself. The resigning artists believed that art and culture should be left to the artists, rather than statesmen. This break led to the formation of the Vienna Secession and Vienna’s entrance in the ranks of the European avant-garde.
Gustav Klimt’s 1902 frieze is based on Richard Wagner’s interpretation of the 9th Symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven, celebrating humankind’s yearning for happiness. The 34-meter long wall painting shows humanity struggling to overcome hostile forces such as sickness, madness, wantonness, and intemperance, and finally finding eternal bliss in art. The singing angels and the lovers embracing in the final section of the fresco refer to the symphony’s closing choir and Friedrich Schiller’s famous ode To Joy: “This kiss to the whole world!”
The Viennese fashion designer Helmut Lang stopped his fashion career in 2005 to concentrate on his artistic pursuits. His third solo exhibition, entitled “Make it hard” was shown at The Fireplace Project gallery in East Hampton July 22 – August 8, 2011.
Anna Aichinger is a Viennese designer, who studied at Vienna’s University of Applied Arts, and established her label in 2003. Her designs stand for elegance, quality, femininity, and empowerment. Her clothes are sold at different boutiques in Vienna and presented at Paris Fashion Week twice a year. She believes that “fashion has to highlight the woman” (not vice versa), and that “one should look a woman in the face first, then notice her dress.”
Gabriele Rigby created her fashion label Fröhlich in 2009, and opened her store in Zieglergasse 68, in Vienna’s trendy 7th district in 2010. “Fröhlich” means “happy” in German, and stands for hand-made, original, individual, comfortable, and multi-functional clothes for women. The name also conveys positive, good feeling, and symbolizes “clothes made with love and dedication,” spreading good energy and thoughts.
Cloed Priscilla Baumgartner is the clever and stylish designer behind the eco-friendly label MILCH, and the owner of YPPIG Eco Fashion Showroom at Yppenmarkt, a trendy marketplace in Vienna’s 16th district. MILCH was established in 2000, and symbolizes the recycling cycle of nature (transformation from grass to cow to milk).