Dirndls and brass: Oktoberfest mania spreads beyond beer festival

Sun Oct 6, 2013 8:32am EDT
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By Victoria Bryan and Martinne Geller

Munich (Reuters) - A decade ago, waitresses at Oktoberfest were the only ones in dirndls, the Bavarian peasant-inspired, corseted dresses featuring white blouses and colored aprons, and trendy Berliners wouldn't dream of dancing to oompah music in public.

Now, Munich's annual beer festival is a sea of traditionally-clad tourists, with revelers from as far away as Canada, Mexico and Iran donning dirndls or the equivalent outfits for men - lederhosen and checked shirts.

"I wanted to be part of the local atmosphere. Everyone was talking about it," said Lindsey Zhang, a 20-year-old from New York who is studying in Paris. She came to Oktoberfest with her friend Marina Teixeira from Sao Paulo. Both women bought dirndls near the Oktoberfest tents for about 50 euros.

"Everybody told me it would be nicer if I wore it," Teixeira said. "Otherwise you'll look like a tourist."

Pippa Middleton, the sister of England's Duchess of Cambridge, wore a dirndl this week at a festival in Austria. Guests donned dirndls to the July wedding party in Vienna of star stylist Caroline Sieber, with English actress Emma Watson gaining praise from German Vogue for her red number.

This is not the first time that "Trachten," as the traditional clothes are called, have become trendy. But today's revival is the most pronounced, said Simone Egger, a professor in folklore and ethnology at Munich's Ludwig-Maximilians-University.

"It's taken on a whole new dimension," Egger told Reuters. She said globalization had created a desire for people to seek out local specialties.

"What's old is cool now," said Isabel Seidel, a 25-year-old student from Berlin at Oktoberfest.   Continued...

Young women (L-R) Carola, Anne, Tanja, Patrizia, Lena and Lisa from Baden-Wuerttemberg pose while wearing traditional Bavarian dirndls at Munich's 180th Oktoberfest October 3, 2013. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle