Munich without its dirndls and lederhosen is like Oktoberfest without beer: unthinkable. That’s no news to fashion designer Alexandra von Frankenberg, who founded her own dirndl fashion brand in 2010. Amsel Fashion has a modern take on the traditional costumes.
Why did you choose to work with the traditional tracht style?
I was born in Munich, and ever since I was a child I’ve always worn a dirndl. To me it’s completely normal. But I never dreamt that I would build my own tracht label after my fashion studies. It just sort of happened.
What does the name Amsel refer to?
It’s my nickname and means blackbird. My ex-boyfriend gave it to me because I talk so much. Chirp, chirp… like a bird.
Is your nickname Amsel (Blackbird) presented in your designs?
Only partly. The Amsel dirndl is characterized by the two-toned skirt bands and the flowers along the neckline. And by the materials: from early on we used furniture fabrics because they have more beautiful patterns, are more robust and resilient to cigarette burns etc. However, we’ve recently stocked up with linen, silk and classic clothing cotton.
What is so great about the dirndl?
It doesn’t matter how old you are or if you are big or small. Everyone looks tasteful and elegant in a dirndl.
The traditional tracht style with its dirndls and lederhosen is currently in. Why?
The demand for organic, regional and homemade goods has returned and it doesn’t just concern food. Nowadays people are also more aware of tradition.
Should a dirndl look like it did 100 years ago?
You shouldn’t destroy and change it completely. But it needs a more modern and young appearance. If you leave the traditional tracht style to the dusty world of folkloric associations, it will die out.
Does the tracht style have any no-goes?
It should never look carnivalesque. A couple of years ago, a mini dirndl with lots of chichi, plastic and glitter was very popular. But it didn’t have anything to do with the fine traditions.
How does it feel to slip into a traditional tracht costume?
It’s like a school uniform. It indicates togetherness. No one will be discriminated against because of what he does or does not have. It’s all about the people.
What should you be aware of if you want to keep your dirndl for a long time?
I would recommend choosing a cotton dirndl with a beautiful colour combination so you can change the apron every once in a while. You can wear these forever; in the city or at a countryside wedding.
What is important when tailoring a dirndl?
The waist has to be at the right height; the shoulders have to fit; it shouldn’t have any wrinkles and it shouldn’t be too tight―especially around the bust. The décolleté has to be adorned. And it should have the right length so that the knee is covered. It also needs enough seam allowance for it to be modified again and again.
What should a pair of elegant lederhosen look like?
A short buckskin model is a must. Then you have a decent quality, and they will last you a lifetime. If you can’t afford them you should stick to jeans, shirt and janker jacket.
Would you share some of your secret tips on tracht fashion in Munich?
The second hand shop Holareidulijö on Schellingstraße 88 is an institution in Munich and they offer lots of old lederhosen. In the shop Vintage Love on Frauenstraße 22, they have lots of great vintage dirndls in the Oktoberfest season. And of course there’s our concept store Amsel & Friends on Adalbertstraße 22, where you’ll find not only our collection but also other young designers working with the Alpine style.
What does the tracht style mean to Munich?
It is important for the people of Munich to be able to express their culture through what they wear. We are proud of it!
The cheapest dirndl from Amsel costs € 399. Why should anyone invest in an expensive dress when they can get the whole outfit for € 30 at the train station?
Of course it’s not worth the money to buy an expensive dirndl if you’re a tourist only visiting the Oktoberfest once. Then the merchandise products are completely okay. But if you plan on wearing it more often, then it definitely pays to invest a bit of money.