MQ Vienna Fashion Week Debuts
Revealing Viennese erotic-wear steals the show as Austrian designers vie for exposure and try to seduce buyers
This year’s Vienna Fashion Week took place from Sept. 24 to Sept. 27, the work of creative headz, quartier21, and MuseumsQuartier.
Held in a tent just outside MuseumsQuartier, the fashion show audience consisted for the most part of the usual bohemian design and art scholars, augmented by the stable of models working and not working. A starlet visitor from London expressed some disappointment that there was little of the money that one sees at London’s fashion week.
For the moment, the Vienna Fashion Week is not exclusive enough to attract many of Vienna’s glitterati. Without them there was no point in making the event exclusive. Frankly, though, it made for a better atmosphere for showing and appreciating the clothes; preferable to the hysteria and hierarchy of a Paris fashion week.
In comparison, buyers were few – the Vienna Fashion Week ran head to head with Berlin, Paris, Milan and London shows. Still, some designers are pleased with the focus of the Viennese event.
"There are thousands of shows going on [in Paris], it’s a total circus for ten days," said Pitour designer Maria Oberfrank. "Why should this be the only way to connect with Austrian buyers?"
Vienna’s Fashion Week serves a useful purpose – to create a forum for designers to see one another’s work in motion, given the fact that mutual shop visits can reveal only so much.
"Our intention with Vienna Fashion Week is to change this and make it easier for Austrian buyers to see Austrian designers’ work in an ideal environment, with both runway shows and clothing racks," Oberfrank added.
As a showcase, it offers a chance for something new and outstanding to break out quickly to a larger public.
"It is hard to understand clothes until you see them in motion."
The Vienna scene is completely eclectic, ranging from ultra-modern experiments in minimalism to matching its signature down-tempo electronica – all synthetic, white and grey – to very kitschy yodel-wear, with tweeds and drab bright colors (think dull purples, reds and oranges). The big innovation this year was the coming of age of Viennese erotic-wear. Much of the most exciting and inspiring clothing was highly revealing of both bosom and bottom.
Hungarian designer Konsanszky fits easily into this idiom. Her mostly half-translucent, half-opaque outfits of layered cotton and silk remind one of the early Madonna "Lucky Star" days from the mid-eighties. The arm bands, mini-dresses and knee-length leggings are cluttered enough to suggest her audience is a very young one. It’s hard to imagine most her collection on anyone over 25.
Also in the same vain, the outstanding hit at this year’s festival was the work of Kilian Kerner. Working in champagne, gold, white, silver and black, Kerner’s fabrics are a feast of luxury. He is especially effective with his draped clothing that falls over the female figure like a translucent waterfall. Some of the backs are very daring, revealing down to arch of the rear end.
His men’s wear is also glam but quite a bit funkier, with rolled up sleeves and silver cuffs. Kerner creates some wonderful short dress suits, something to look forward to next summer. His standard silver suit is a very elegant three-button affair with very short lapels.
Claudia Rosas Lukas also showed a lot of sheer, in black and muted metallics, with a third of the collection in muted fire engine red. Much of Lukas’ clothing targets the well-dressed professional woman, with finely tailored mid-thigh skirts and narrow bottomed trousers. At the end of the day, her hand did not seem nearly as sure or decisive as Kerner, with tailored jackets yielding to rough cuts. Her hemlines were equally uncertain, moving from floor length to bottom of the buttocks. Some individual items were gorgeous but the overall impression was very scattered, as if hoping that if she throws enough looks, perhaps something will stick.
The show concept took one wild step further courtesy of Superrated, who had their crew of all male models come out with heads wrapped in stocking masks like bank robbers or terrorists. Unfortunately, the clothes matched the masks; for the most part they look like K-Mart or Marks and Spencer’s remnants after a season sale. Not to be caught dead in!
Michel Mayer brought a taste of la ville with her Spring and Summer 2010 Paris collection. Deep blues, greens and reds, Mayer’s color palette is very rich. Her designs are basic, focusing on some simple and careful cuts. She also showed every hemline imaginable from floor length to top of the thigh. A lot of translucents on top of short skirts tease the eye without revealing too much. For a woman with a toned back and shoulders, Mayer’s collection would be ideal.
Ex-model, Anelia Peschev’s work was quite the opposite: all elegant, single lines. Accentuating the feminine, she teases the eye with tunics over leggings and gauzy tops. Most successful are her Roman and Grecian long dresses in rich silk colors. Her high-waisted dresses are less convincing, but there is much here to choose from for those who love rich fabrics and are headed to a winter ball. Opulence and elegance are Peschev’s bywords.
How much would such opulence, elegance and eroticism set you back? Between shows I took a close look at the price tag for such oeuvres: €35-400.
At such prices, some ask the question ‘How can you hope to compete with Chanel or Prada?’ Oberfrank shrugs off such thoughts, averring that the event is about confidence.
"All our lives, fashion people in Vienna are discouraged from competing with the international labels. That is not our space."
"Between the mass production and shaky quality of H&M, Zara and the ultra expensive Prada, there is a huge, empty space. People want something better. We feel it every day in our store."
Vienna Fashion Week ’09 is just the launching pad for a lifetime of fashion weeks for the Austrian capital. Next year’s event is already in motion, with a bigger tent on order and more parties arranged.
Alec Kinnear is Creative Director of Foliovision, a marketing and design company. You can see more of his Vienna Fashion Week photos at uncoy.com.