Posts Tagged ‘costume

All humans are disposed to wear clothes. Indeed, the topic of clothing encapsulates many specific cultural and identity-related issues in that it reveals hidden features of social structures and symbols. More specifically, the way people dress is a means of both conforming to and deviating from a same code.

Lipovetsky goes so far as to throw into question Bourdieu’s concept of social distinction: « In the history of fashion, values and modern cultural meanings which elevate Novelty and the expression of individual human identity in particular have been the ones which exercised the greatest influence.”

Thus, the role of clothing as both signifier and signified is a highly relevant topic of inquiry in the field of intercultural and terminological studies, with social groups sometimes referring to themselves and one another using terms related to their clothing and their appearance (goths, punks, chavs, etc.).

Clothing: a signifier and signified for sociology

We are approaching clothing as a particular signifier of a general signified. It is an individual and collective expression of a cultural and social structure and atmosphere.
In so doing, we are appealing to Barthes’ remarkable work in History and Sociology of Clothing, a foundational text for our subject. We will start by clarifying the generic terms clothing and costume.
A semantic distinction is made between these two terms by attributing functional qualities to clothing and aesthetic qualities to costume. Barthes qualifies this dichotomy as a « psychological illusion » which consists in stating that clothing corresponds to the sum total of individual instincts. Sociology sets itself the task of transcending this illusory divide between functional and aesthetic qualities. The belief that there is a « tendency for any item covering the body to integrate an organised, normative, formal system enshrined by society » is particularly relevant to us.

Following this logic, we must conclude that costume deals in axioms which vary according to the culture in question, « both a system and a heritage, an individual act and a collective institution”.
This formulation of the problem is of special interest to linguists working on differences in editorial process as it is expressed with reference to the concept of language. Language and costume, as complete structures consisting of a network of norms and forms, are thus considered side by side, lending our subject a breadth and relevance ideal for the practice of culturally-specific information processing in graphical interfaces.

In France, folk costumes seem a little old-fashioned, or even completely out-of-date. It is hard to imagine a woman in Strasbourg wearing the famous Alsatian bow. However, it is not the same in German-speaking countries which has a strong attachment to its traditions. Therefore, in some areas, you can notice some women in Dirndl.

Dirndl (photo from Florian Schott)

The Dirndl is a traditional costume worn by women in Bavaria, in Tyrol, in the basin of Salzburg and in Liechtenstein.  The top of the Dirndl traditionally consists of a white, generally low-cut, blouse with puffed sleeves covered by a bodice while the bottom consists of a long gathered cotton skirt and an apron. The entire costume is made of hand-printed colourful fabrics. It should be noted that the placement of the knot is an indicator of the woman’s marital status, like the Tahitian Gardenia in Polynesia.

Dirndl is a word from the Austrian and Bavarian dialect, equivalent to the German word Dirn, referring to both a young woman and a servant in the countryside. The costume she wore was called the Dirndlgewand (literally the “gown of the maid”) which was later reduced to Dirndl. Nowadays this form is more used to refer to the alpine costume than to the woman wearing it.

Contrary to what you may think, the Dirndl was not originally worn in rural areas but in urban ones by burghers. In the upper classes, the Dirndl became more and more popular during the second half of the 19th century. At the time, it was considered as country garments and, as a result, upper-class women wore it during their stay out of the cities.

In the interwar years, during the economic crisis, the Dirndl was a great success mainly because of its attractive price, especially since other female garments were particularly expensive at the time. According to the tradition, the Dirndl should be worn on Sundays or during the celebrations in honour of the parish or the patron of the town. However, this costume has only been present in since the 1990’s. Therefore, during the Oktoberfest in Munich, a lot of women are seen wearing a Dirndl.

Nowadays, it is frequent to notice Austrian or Bavarian women wearing a Dirndl in their everyday life, regardless of their ages. It is only natural that the Dirndl should evolve with fashion. Consequently, it is now possible to find Dirndl in various lengths, different shades and different materials. However, since the 2000s, Dirndl have been even “part” of fashion for the great designers have put them in their collections, like Karl Lagerfeld and Oscar de la Renta in 2010 for instance.



En France, les costumes traditionnels ont une image quelque peu désuète, voire franchement démodée. Il est ainsi difficilement imaginable de croiser une Alsacienne arborant un énorme nœud à Strasbourg ou une Bretonne portant une coiffe en dentelle à Rennes. Cependant, il n’en va pas de même dans le monde germanophone, resté très attaché à ses traditions. C’est ainsi que, dans certaines régions, on peut remarquer des femmes en Dirndl.

Femmes en Dirndl (photo de Florian Schott)

Le Dirndl est un costume traditionnel féminin porté particulièrement en Bavière, dans le Tyrol ainsi que dans le bassin de Salzbourg et au Liechtenstein. Le haut du Dirndl se compose traditionnellement d’un chemisier blanc, souvent décolleté, à manches bouffantes recouvert d’un corselet lacé devant tandis que le bas est constitué d’une longue jupe de coton froncée à la taille et d’un tablier. Le tout est confectionné dans des tissus à motifs et aux couleurs vives. Il est à noter que la position du nœud du tablier reflète la situation matrimoniale, comme la fleur de tiare à Tahiti.

Le mot Dirndl est la forme dialectale austro-bavaroise de l’allemand Dirn qui peut aussi bien désigner une jeune fille qu’une servante dans le milieu rural. Le costume que celles-ci portaient était appelé le Dirndlgewand (littéralement la « robe de jeune fille ») qui a été plus tard réduit à Dirndl. Aujourd’hui, cette forme s’utilise plus pour désigner ce costume alpin que la personne qui le porte.

Contrairement à ce que l’on croit généralement, le Dirndl n’est à l’origine pas un costume rural mais  a au contraire une grande tradition dans les milieux bourgeois. Dans les classes supérieures, il a pris son essor dans la deuxième moitié du XIXème siècle. Celles-ci voyaient en lui un vêtement campagnard et le portait donc à l’occasion de leurs villégiatures hors des villes.

Entre les deux guerres, en pleine période de crise économique, le Dirndl a rencontré un franc succès en raison de son prix intéressant, particulièrement en comparaison des autres habits féminins de l’époque. La tradition veut qu’il soit surtout porté le dimanche, lors de fêtes paroissiales ou patronales ou lors de foires annuelles. Cependant, sa présence dans les fêtes populaires n’est répandue que depuis les années 1990. Ainsi, lors de l’Oktoberfest de Munich, de nombreuses femmes n’hésitent pas à l’arborer.

Aujourd’hui, il n’est pas rare de croiser des Autrichiennes ou des Bavaroises qui portent le Dirndl dans la vie de tous les jours, quelque soit leur âge. Celui-ci se doit donc d’évoluer avec la mode. Ainsi, il est maintenant possible d’en trouver de longueur variable, dans différents coloris et tissus. Depuis les années 2000, on peut même dire qu’il « fait » la mode dans la mesure où les grands créateurs n’hésitent plus à l’utiliser dans leurs collections, comme Karl Lagerfeld ou Oscar de la Renta en 2010.

Carte de voeux

Liens :

Comment acheter un Dirndl (anglais)

Des Dirndl à la pointe de la mode… (allemand)

La tradition du Dirndl (français)

juillet 2020