Oktoberfest, by the numbers; the dirndl squeezes into Germany’s limelight; top-tier wedding cakes in Tulsa; Puerto Rico’s pork trail; a big balloon blowout in Albuquerque; golf with Iron Chef Morimoto
A haute spin on a Bavarian tradition
YOU MAY BE FORGIVEN for associating dirndls with clichéd images: a blond maiden yodeling while milking a cow, perhaps. Even in most parts of Germany, the traditional Bavarian attire is relegated to the realm of kitsch. But down south, the dirndl is a serious sartorial statement.
In Munich, where the society set regularly graces the red carpet in dirndls, designer Lola Paltinger puts a cheeky spin on the tried-and-true formula of fitted bodice, frilly blouse and embroidered pinafore. “I’m using really strong colors this year,” she says, “like hot pink, turquoise and orange.” She has also flirted with tulle and organza instead of the usual cotton.
Though the dirndl’s pedigree can be traced back to humble servants’ uniforms, today one can fetch upward of €3,000 at boutiques like Paltinger’s Lollipop & Alpenrock. The hefty price tag hasn’t deterred customers from flocking to Paltinger, who used to work for designer Vivienne Westwood and retail chain H&M. From now until the very last day of Oktoberfest, her atelier of three employees will swell to 12 seamstresses to meet the demands of jet-set clients who like to fly in and have a dress made to measure by the next morning.
Despite all the experiments with colors and fabric, however, Paltinger is a purist at heart. When asked what was the most radical modification she’s made, she has to pause and think for a while. “Sometimes I omit the blouse under the bodice,” she says, “but then it’s really just a cocktail dress, not a dirndl.” Even Paris Hilton had to settle for a demure calf-length number when she asked Paltinger to dress her. “Even if it’s shortened, the skirt must cover the knees,” Paltinger says. After all, some traditions just can’t be compromised. — CHANEY KWAK
ILLUSTRATION BY PETER OUMANSKI