Tip of the Hat! Hats off to Wien Museum

Tip of the Hat! Hats off to Wien Museum


Calabrese, kippah, cap. The Wien Museum’s current exhibition – one of the last before its upcoming renovation – explores a fascinating piece of social and cultural history. Throughout the ages, head coverings have been much more than just an expression of fashion – they have always been a way to symbolize the wearer’s belonging to a group or class, too. The Calabrese style was chosen as a revolutionary hat in 1848 to set its wearers apart from the top-hatted bourgeoisie, while workers wore flat caps during the Austro-fascist period between 1934 and 1938 to distance themselves from regime supporters in Styrian felt hats.

In the 1970s Marxist students wore berets like their role model Che Guevara. But what’s the difference between his signature beret and a Basque-style beret, which was seen as a symbol of the Resistance in 1940s’ France? These historical questions and the social and political development of Vienna in this regard are the subject of this exhibition, which follows a timeline from the 19th century to the present day. Head coverings are just as symbolic now as they have ever been – as is proven by the debate surrounding the headscarf, which continues to divide political factions.

Anecdotes from the history of the city and fashion are supplemented by unique exhibits. It was no accident that these pieces ended up in the Wien Museum: Vienna has always been a hat-wearing city. Even today it is home to milliners like Mühlbauer and Szaszi that would have died out long ago elsewhere. What’s more, the Fashion School in the Hetzendorf Palace is the last institution in the German-speaking world to train modistes (milliners or hat designers). We take our hats off to them!

Tip of the Hat! A Social History of the Covered Head.
Wien Museum
until 30 Oct. 2016


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