“Fashion” exhibition in the Old Palace in Stuttgart: Billionaires also wear Birkenstock culture

Who do the hands belong to? Jewelery advertising by the Stuttgart photographer Monica Menez Photo: Monica Menez

From reaching in the closet every day to racing on the catwalk: The Württemberg State Museum is showing the stimulating and current exhibition “Fashion ?! What makes fashion into fashion ”.

Stuttgart – You have to be a T-shirt. Then you would get around the world. One would be international. After all, every T-shirt jets 30,000 kilometers across the globe. And since it is only worn 163 times on average, it quickly met its target. And off you go from the used clothes container to travel again – usually somewhere south.

After visiting the Württemberg State Museum, however, you may not want to be a T-shirt after all, because the ecological footprint that such a piece of fabric leaves in the world is huge. “Fashion is so unbearably ugly that we have to change it every six months,” the author Oscar Wilde is said to have once said, which is a very good way of summarizing what defines the fashion system today more than ever: fast pace.

“Fashion ?! What makes fashion into fashion ”is the name of the Great State Exhibition in the Old Castle in Stuttgart, which focuses on the world of clothing in a highly stimulating way – from the glittering circus on the catwalk to the old Birkenstock sandals by Steve Jobs. It cannot be overlooked that the Apple co-founder loved wearing his brown health shoes for a long time and was passionate about it.

The bearded diva made headlines around the world

Fashion concerns us all, that is the message of this exhibition, which is by no means about frills and creases, about trouser cuts and tie widths, but rather that is down-to-earth in the middle of everyday life and makes us aware of how great the social impact of the topic is – even if one only carries what is in the closet upstairs. Whether it is statements from the population that are being quoted, whether it is clothing by celebrities or expensive designer fashion – there are many ways of telling how clothing can underpin social norms and how it sometimes breaks categories. You can see the imposing dress with which Conchita Wurst, the diva with a full beard, hosted the European Song Contest 2015 and made headlines around the world. Even when a model with a headscarf walked on the catwalk for the first time, it was less of a fashion statement than a political statement.

Read the interview with curator Maaike van Rijn here: “We bought a Zara dress once”




The exhibition spans the period from the 1950s to the present, but does not follow the developments like a textbook, but has staged the thematic chapters with a lot of glamor and endeavored to involve and stimulate the public in many ways. For example, visitors are asked how they find out about fashion, how they shop, what inspires them. Over the course of the weeks, the stickers for the respective positions will give a picture of how the population ticks when it comes to clothing.

Dance like the models from “Vogue”

This exhibition also addresses very different interests thematically, illuminating the global market here and ecological questions there. One will admire Arnold Schwarzenegger’s leather jacket from “Terminator 2”, while the other will be more interested in the vegan sneakers made from natural rubber. The T-shirt with the slogan “I survived Stuttgart 21” could even be worn by some at home. But it’s also about how fashion is created. Then again you can see from the front pages of fashion magazines that in the fifties aesthetics were still played with on the covers, whereas today it is all about sex appeal, eroticism and sensuality. Last but not least, you can get in the mood on a catwalk with “Voguing”. In the dance style that the New York gay scene developed in the eighties, models were copied from “Vogue”.

How does a fabric made from recycled PET bottles feel?

Even if fashion is an international system, the exhibition continues to draw arcs in the region and Stuttgart projects are presented, from the vintage market to clothing swap parties. The Stuttgart company Bleyle was one of the largest manufacturers of “knitted and warp knitted goods”. And when the Esslingen-based fashion photographer Walde Huth staged the stockings of a lingerie company in 1956, she used the backdrop of the Old Castle and made it clear right away that Stuttgart is a car city.

Unfortunately, touching is forbidden in times of Corona, but one would like to know what the fabric made from recycled PET bottles feels like or the curtain made from soybeans. One more reason to maybe buy clothes made from environmentally friendly materials instead of well-traveled chemical cocktails.

Fashion for everyone

children The accompanying interactive exhibition in the Junge Schloss, which is aimed at children and families, is called “Get on the fabric”. In the children’s museum you can get a hands-on approach to the subject of fashion and learn, for example, what the washing instructions in a piece of clothing mean. You can weave a large tapestry with scraps of fabric or arrange patterns on fabric to save material. The various textiles are also presented, including a fabric made of milk fibers that is made from spoiled milk and cheese-making waste – but still does not smell (until August 1, open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

Adults The big state exhibition “Fashion ?! What makes fashion into fashion ”can be seen until April 25 and is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 am to 5 pm, Thursday from 10 am to 9 pm and from Friday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm.

Fashion quiz After a guided tour through the exhibition, fashion lovers and connoisseurs can compete in a quiz on November 6, January 28 and February 25 (7 p.m.).

Movies In the Atelier am Bollwerk, films on the subject of fashion are shown accompanying the fashion exhibition – for example the documentary “Westwood: Punk. Icon. Activist ”(December 1st, 8pm) or biopics on Yves Saint Laurent (January 12th, 8pm) and Coco Chanel (March 9th, 8pm).

Janelle B. Smith

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