BLOOM: German blossom

By Jo Phillips

“Traditional Couture” is a photo book of traditional German costumes or “Trachten”, photographed by Gregor Hohenberg and published by Gestalten.
If there’s a word that defines German traditional clothing it’s “bloom”. An explosion of colour and richness, the costumes are a vision of the fertility and purity of a country landscape in springtime.


Professional fashion photographer Gregor Hohenberg began a journey documenting the deliciously magnificent traditional costumes of his native Germany, after visiting a costume seamstress from Bavaria. This journey would take him to discover unexpected beauty and master craftsmanship in outfits worthy of high fashion houses.


Looking through Gregor Hohenberg’s book, “Traditional Couture” we learn that each costume or Trachten is tightly woven with each region’s history, and tells a story about the wearer’s class and profession, a story written with blossoming colourful fabrics and beads. In this book Hohenberg wanted to honor traditional German costumes and master skills of the makers, by staging and photographing the stunningly beautiful costumes in the German country landscape where they belong. Photographing the costumes (worn by the actual owners) as if they were creations of the renowned fashion labels he often photographs, Hohenberg shines a proud light on the beautiful art of the traditional German costume making process.


The German Trachten lost popularity after the II World War, when it was used by German nationalists as propaganda, which tarnished the craft’s reputation. The Trachten ¬†however is not a static tradition, but it has evolved fluidly as any other fashion. For example, the Trachten from Northern Germany became more colourful after¬†Portuguese merchants brought in new materials from other regions.


Through his photographs, Hohenberg has given a much needed voice not only to the individuals who wear and keep alive the tradition of the Trachten, but to the makers. Although many in their desire to keep in touch with nature are going back to the Trachten, as any other fashion, it needs society’s interest to stay alive. In an era of globalized fashion made for the young, the Trachten represents the ageless, eccentric, colourful and blooming beauty.


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