Baroque Fashion In Vienna
Baroque costumes are a key expression of baroque and rococo art, which Vienna has plenty of. However, it’s not as easy to find the best places to see historical
baroque clothing, and to rent and buy contemporary baroque fashion. Here is an overview and guide of baroque things to wear in Vienna.
Baroque Fashion in The Habsburg Empire
Women of the aristocracy and upper classes in the Habsburg Empire selected the lively and relaxed French and Italian baroque fashion as a guideline. They did not follow the rigid Spanish, German and Flemish dress code of dark coloured clothes in simple fabrics, and with large closed up lace collars.
Women’s Baroque Clothing
The ladies of society wore pompous silk dresses in vibrant colours. The dresses boasted wide decolletes, laces and ribbons, and an ultra thin waistline achieved by corsages, sleeves until the elbows or above, and bell shaped wide crinoline skirts to the toes. Later on, the ladies would tie padded sausage-shaped leather rolls around their hips to accommodate to the baroque ideal of the curvaceous woman. Many rich ladies additional wore a wide coat (manteau) nested on the back, and a precious undergarment.
In the winter, the ladies would wear little fur collars, called flea furs. (As they didn’t wash, they believed the fur would attract those nasty fleas and keep them from their bodies.) They would wear silk shoes with a small heel, and drape their hair around a high wire frame on top of their heads.
Men’s Baroque Clothing
The gentlemen usually dressed a wide flowing jacket, a linen shirt and waistcoat (justeaucorps), colourful silk stockings, wide knicker bockers bound under the knee (‘culottes’), and gaiters. Inthe early baroque, the waistcoast would be padded and pointed on the belly. They would shave their heads to comfortably wear white-powdered curly wigs, the ‘allonge’ wigs, topped by a cocked hat. The buckled shoes would be stubbed, with medium heels.
Where To See Baroque Costumes
While baroque architecture and baroque paintings are ubiquitous in Vienna’s city centre, you have to dig deeper to find exhibits of original baroque costumes.
Here are three museums that include baroque clothing in their permanent collections:
The fashion collection of Wien Museum includes a range of baroque costumes, and is probably the best place to visit in Vienna for fans of baroque clothing. The baroque collection is small but gives you an overview of the kind of clothes in Vienna in the baroque era, from corsages for the ladies to ‘justeaucorps’ (knee-length fitted jackets) for the gentlemen .
Museum for Applied Arts / Contemporary Arts
The Museum for Applied Arts / Contemporary Art showcases a few rococo and baroque costumes and textiles in its Textile Collection. You can see them in the permanent collection for Renaissance/Baroque/Rococo.
The Museumsquartier sometimes organises historic fashion exhibitions during its annual ‘Summer of Fashion’ shows, which include references to baroque fashion.
Where To Rent Baroque Costumes For Balls
Vienna Balls are a fabulous opportunity for ladies to try out baroque clothing. The best events to wear those rather extravagant dresses are the Vienna Opera Ball, and the Life Ball. The palace of Schloss Hof organises the annual summer Baroque Fête in its baroque gardens. Dress code: strictly baroque.
Where To Buy Baroque Style Fashion
There are a few baroque-style fashion shops in Vienna which celebrate our heritage of exuberant and luxurious dress styles. Dolce & Gabbana‘s andVivienne Westwood‘s shops at Kohlmarkt and Tuchlauben represent the international haute couture in baroque style. If you look for relaxed baroque-style fashion, Lord Rieger is the best address. The fine city centre shop in Gonzagagasse does for example fitted velvet jackets in bright colours with gold embroidered collars for men, and velvet coats with elements of embroidered fabrics for women. Each year, Lord Rieger comes up with a special lavish collection for the annual Life Ball.