Publicity: An Element of Style

The Vienna Awards credit the backstage magic of fashion

On The Town | Margaret Childs | April 2012

The unsung heroes of fashion: Some Vienna Awards 2012 nominees (Photos: Nominees’ own)

Vienna has a flirtatious relationship with fashion. During major fashion events, the city becomes the catwalk; people start using phrases like "That’s so Cavalli," or "He’s just trying to be Michael Kors," or even, "That dress just screams Chanel!" And then, once the to-do is over, the crowd goes back to protesting against fur coats and shopping at H&M.

But a part of Vienna’s fashion world never sleeps. The event managers, stylists, journalists, make-up artists, hairstylists, choreographers, photographers, and models live the life all year round, and they thrive on the publicity that comes with awards and events spurring international attention.

Since 2000, Vienna has hosted a growing number of fashion and design related fairs, competitions, and events. AFA Austrian Fashion Awards have been going on since 2000, with awards funded by the Austrian government. Perhaps the biggest push to the fashion industry’s profile has been the MQ Vienna Fashion week, coming up in September 2012 for the fourth year in a row and constantly growing.

The MQ has also hosted the Vienna Awards for Fashion and Lifestyle since 2009. To them, it turns out, "lifestyle" just means expanding the definition and recognising more of the industry. Besides the usual creators (designers and photographers), the Vienna Awards choose a winner in categories like Designer Branding, Hair Stylist, Stylist, Fashion Journalist, Style Icon, Make Up, and Models.

This year, they have added a new category: Best Newcomer, won by Shakkei (, a "Green-Luxury" label by the Japanese influenced Gabriel Baradee. Other winners included make-up artist Sergej Benedetter, model Ilvie Wittek, designer Lena Hoscheck, stylist Barbara Zach, photographer Mario Schmolka, super model Karolina Kurkova won the Style Icon Award, the hairstylist Patrick Glatthaar, and fashion journalist Margit Kratky of Diva magazine.

And this month, the Ringstrassen Gallerien will host their Designer Award for the ninth year in a row, on 18 April, with some of the same nominees: Mark & Julia, for instance, are another front-runner. Also familiar names from MQ Vienna Fashion Week like Manufaktur Herzblut and the Dutch avant-garde functional clothing designer Anouk Wipprecht.

In the local scene, one begins hearing "That’s so Michel Meyer", or he’s "trying to be Tiberius", or even "that dress just screams Elfenkleid".

Is Vienna becoming the new Milan? Perhaps not – or at least not yet – but maybe a Milan-ish version of Berlin, a city that has blossomed in the fashion world over the past ten years. Having good designers is just half the battle: It’s promoting the scene that gets the fashion-capital cogs turning.

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