MQ Vienna Fashion Week: Into the Light

The tent at MQ Fashion Week overflowed for the many Spring/Summer 2012 collections

Marcel Ostertag’s romanitc glam (seen here) was a stark contrast to the fitted suit (below) by Vienna’s own Tiberius | Photo: Jürgen Hammerschmid

Vienna’s annual Fashion Week has grown – and grown up. In its third year running, the event has been extended from three to five days and  this year showed 50 designers from Sept. 14 to 18.

The crowds filing into the tent outside the MuseumsQuartier were a colourful mix of fashion professionals, budding young designers, Austrian celebrities and ‘bohos’ of all sorts. Anyone can buy a ticket to Vienna Fashion Week, unlike other cities, where it’s invitation only.

This year however, word of mouth brought a much greater throng of fashion-conscious Viennese to the shows and the affair is outgrowing the venue. “This is no guarantee that you’ll get in,” said one design student, pointing to her ticket. When the seating is exhausted, the rest squeeze into the foyer to watch events on bar-side flat screens.

The event has helped the local fashion community come together and given native designers a setting in which to show their collections in action. This year, however, the organisers at “creative headz”, have brought designers from all corners of the globe to Vienna. “We are proud to have great designers from Poland, Georgia, Brazil, Spain and Thailand,” said the production chief, Zigi Mueller.

Vienna is a draw to these invitees, and they seemed glad to be part of such a young fashion event. However, it remains questionable whether the non-native labels sold much while showing in Vienna. “My manager told me not to answer that question,” confided Rita Comparato from the Brazilian label NEON. “It can’t be compared to a fashion week like in Sao Paolo, which has been going for 20 years. But our country is young and yours is old; our fashion week is old and yours is young.”

Bringing in fashion from other continents has certainly enriched the range of Vienna fashion week. The MQ “artist in residence”, Brazilian Fabio Gurjao, showed sequined glam rock elements, which, while very revealing, remained strong statement pieces – Christian Audiger meets Balmain, with a touch of a Led Zeppelin groupie. He definitely helped to increase the profile of the European styles shown.

Marcel Ostertag’s romanitc glam (above) was a stark contrast to this fitted suit by Vienna’s own Tiberius | Photo: Jürgen Hammerschmid

This is not to say that Euro style is homogenous. From the Titania gowns of Bipone, through the copper and chrome modernity of Marcel Ostertag, over casual fair-trade get-ups by Göttin des Glücks, to signature brands like Lena Hoschek, the range is vast.

The young designer Eva Poleschinski has shown her brand [ep-anoui] in Berlin and Paris, giving her a big push in the local market. This year, she showed turbanned models with geometric silhouettes joining leather and tulle elements. With the exception of some of the more revealing showpieces, the women’s knee-length dresses are very prêt-à-porter. Her menswear was the highlight this year, with sheer knickerbockers and waterfall collars as well as fitted “Italian cut” trousers and silky V-necks.

Anelia Peschev just returned from New York to show a poetic mélange of feminine floor length chiffon and silk gowns – definitely red carpet material. The embroidered backless green Grecian affair was a big hit and the dark blue gowns, especially one with crisscross shoulder straps, brought on a smatter of applause.

Some of the local designers have become such staples in the Vienna fashion scene that their following is secured. One of these is Callisti. The designer Martina Mueller chose four Austrian celebrities as models, and even guests who didn’t know the personalities could tell the clothes were not just made for waif-like giants.  Mueller has retained the enhanced shoulders from her last collection and has added cocktail dresses with ruffled fabric gathered at the middle.

Michel Mayer, another local luminary, showed her Spring/Summer 2011 collection in periwinkle blues, taupe shades and Easter-basket yellows. The short dresses were mostly fitted around the hips, blousing on top, and many of the outfits included an asymmetrical off-the-shoulder sleeve.

Marcos Valenzuela, the notorious maker of the latex label Tiberius, has abandoned the concentration on the impractical fabric, but kept his fable for corsets and glazed texture. With gathered organza skirting and giant silver-riveted leather pants, which were oh-so-close to sliding off the well-shaped derrieres of both male and female models, the real crowd-stopper was a men’s suit with leather lining (see photo). He also had the DJ Edgar Retro spinning live beside the catwalk.

With her argyle prints and pin-up cuts, Lena Hoschek’s style is always a local favourite. This collection concentrated less on the rockabilly details that dominated the brand in recent years. Hoschek used knee socks and Woody Allen glasses to complete the outfits that ranged from sassy 50s secretary to ultra-feminine career vixen. The joy and lighthearted gait of the models was contagious, and when Hoschek graced the catwalk herself, waving and making a punk sign with both hands, the crowd went wild.

The event was launched to give Austrian designers a platform to present their current collections in motion. However, the result – while giving scope to the evolving fashion in Austria – makes everyone an instant expert.

“I liked last year’s collection better,” stylist Ali Rabbani commented. “What was up with all those rivets? He should have just stuck with the knotted roping idea.” Needless to say, he is a fan, but this event has provided a setting for comparison, which brings the designers the kind of critique that Paris, London or New York receive.

One thing has not changed, and Lena Hoschek hopes it never will. “It’s so different having to please a crowd that’s not only into fashion and just looking at the details,” she said. “They want a show; they want to be entertained.”

Plans for the next MQ Vienna Fashion Week are already in the works, with hopes of more funding and sponsors after this year’s colossal turnout. To anyone who thinks the Viennese have no fashion sense: Think again. Appreciating design on a large scale will inevitably leave its mark on the street style in any city.

See further coverage of the 2011 MQ Vienna Fashion Week in Oct 2011 TVR: “I dived head first as my heel caught on the edge of the ramp”, and “Merchants of Style”.

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