GDR exhibition: Rheinbeck halls show fashion graphics from three decades

exhibition:Rheinbeckhallen show fashion graphics from three decades GDR

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    Birgit Walter


Sabine Zache: Poster department store magnet 1969.


Sabine Zaech

One sentence can be heard repeatedly this evening: I would put on immediately. This is remarkable, as the guests of this vernissage are dressed unusually well anyway. So nowhere sausage leggings on tight thighs to quilted anoraks. Instead style and individuality from haircut to silver heel: funny hats, flowing coats, sparkling lace, fine shoes and of course a lot of black – just a fashion event. It looks back to the past, shows fashion from the GDR.

And for the first time, it’s not about a show of the associated photographers, who present themselves in countless exhibitions and magnificent picture books in detail and could establish with some delay on the art market. Of course, they are also represented here – Sibylle Bergemann, Arno Fischer, Ute Mahler, Roger Melis and Gnter Rssler – finally, they also developed their fame with fashion photography. But no one knows the designers who made this fashion. Were not they equal to the photographer? At best, insiders can classify the names – Claudia Engelbrecht, Carola Bellach, Eva Mcke, Johanna Musiolek, Ulla Stefke, Ulrike Vogt, Karin Stark. The list of the most influential representatives is three times as long.

Ute Lindner: Anonymity was wanted

Her work now shows the exhibition “Between appearance and being. Fashion Graphics in the GDR 1960-1989 “in the Reinbeckhallen in Oberschneweide. The designer and curator Ute Lindner, herself represented with her own graphics, says: “Anonymity was wanted. We produced in a team, so the creative should not turn out. “

Yes, the GDR would have tried to collectivize a Karl Lagerfeld. Lucky, the world star from Hamburg. But now, in this huge exhibition hall, the large format graphics and photographs as a stand in the middle of the room, shows the real power of this lost world of fashion. Nobody has ever really made that up before. This dress looks seductive, you would have bought it – later in the text. Of course, the fashion designers in the GDR oriented themselves like those around the world to Paris and Milan. But if it had developed its own DDR fashion line, then it was characterized by portability.

Everyday usability is already evident in the works from the sixties, which should not be clothes for housewives and models, but for working, self-determined women. You can see them at work or in the caf. The combination of design and functionality was important, and the sporty and elegant fashion should also be long-lasting, timeless and combinable, says Ute Lindner, master student in the eighties with experience in Paris at the Weiensee Art Academy.

Portable, so suitable for everyday use

It can be seen from her and other works from this period that the designers no longer just presented ideas for dresses. At some point, the designs had developed, in particular at the university, independent works of art of various styles independent of the subject matter. Expressive collages, material mix studies, color impressions and stylized portraits are on display here. Everything for the first time, because not even the magazine Sibylle printed such free-floating graphics. In any case, every publication led only to unpleasant demands: Where can I buy it? Yes, where?

From the 60s, the curator even found posters for fashion in department stores during her meticulous search for remaining designs – elegantly drawn with a few strokes. The older readers may remember. Already in the 70s, this publicity disappeared: Just do not arouse needs that nobody could fulfill anyway.
That’s the real problem – the Reinbeck halls show fashion from avant-garde designers, which by no means found their way back into the streets of the GDR. On the contrary, that did not only make a very poor overall impression on strangers. And that, although the fashion institute with more than 200 well-trained employees in two shows a year pretended the GDR fashion line. But what use is that if the drafts only noncommittal recommendations remained and the national enterprises with their strict plan specifications and endless approval procedures their own, cheaper lines implemented. Especially since they were only allowed to process native substances. Sometimes, it is said, designers burst into tears at the sight of the clothes sewn from their designs.

Small quantity, good fabric

Only the 1962 founded Exquisit-enterprise produced what its ambitious designers designed, was allowed to import also noble materials. Only this product was not enough. As a kind of prt–porter made in GDR – small numbers, good workmanship, fine fabric – it was by no means affordable for everyone. A blouse could easily cost 170 marks, on average two months’ rent, warm. Thirty years after the disappearance of the GDR, 30 years of GDR fashion are on display, showing how it could have been.

Hopefully a museum or a collection will apply for the rediscovered sketches, graphics, collages, all hand-drawn, artistically valuable, before disappearing again.
At the vernissage there is a fashion show by five current fashion designers, but the shades range from black and muted-earthy tones to linen white and cheerful pastel, but in a same they very much the former GDR fashion: everything is wearable and beautiful timeless. Again the sentence falls: I would put on immediately. Okay, today you can buy it.

Between appearance and being. Fashion graphics from three decades GDR, Reinbeckhallen, Reinbeckstrae 17, Oberschneweide, until 31. 3. Thu, Fri 16-20 clock; Sat + Sun 11-20 o’clock.