With an inventory of over 22,000 objects, the Wien Museum Fashion Collection is one of the most extensive in Europe. It was founded by Alfred Kunz, the first director of the Fashion School of the City of Vienna, after the Second World War. The collection, which has belonged to the Wien Museum since 1954, aimed to document comprehensively clothes made in Vienna.
The fashion collection is housed in our storage facility, which is not accessible to the public. We display portions of the collection on an ongoing basis within the context of select temporary exhibitions.
The collection covers ladies’, men’s, children’s and sportswear. Along with items of clothing, the following can also be found: fans, handbags, gloves, hats, pouches (bags with straps), scarves, umbrellas, walking sticks, stockings, handkerchiefs, fashion jewellery, embroidery, knitting and crocheting patterns, buttons and textile patterns from the 18th century to the present day. The focus is on bourgeois ladies’ wear from the 19th and 20th centuries (including the Biedermeier and Gründerzeit periods). Society, evening and ball gowns dominate; it is not until the collections of the 1950s that everyday clothing becomes the major part. Important fashion salons and designer studios are represented, including Adlmülller, Höchsmann and List (hats).
Among the oldest objects are bodices and knee-length, tapered men’s coats known as “justeaucorps” with silk shading. Viennese golden bonnets, worn by female citizens around 1800, and Viennese shawls, which in the Biedermeier Period were among the most exported of fashion articles, are represented as well as the “Viennese Blouse” and the “Viennese Tailor-made Outfit”. Must-have fashion items of the 20th century such as bikinis, nylons, mini-skirts and Chanel two-piece suits add to the collection. But there are also long-forgotten items that have been preserved, such as button-hooks, glove-stretchers, finger-tip formers, the “Chapeau Claque” (a top hat that could be folded up by means of a spring), vinaigrettes, the so-called “Page” (a clip which raised the woman’s dress) or a “Strumpfzauber” (literally, “stocking miracle”), which tanned women’s legs instead of tights.
Possessions of famous Vienna personalities include a cashmere shawl belonging to Maria Theresia, the ballet shoes of dancer Fanny Elssler, a dressing gown of Johann Nestroy, a court dress of Katharina Schratt or a pair of trousers worn by Johannes Brahms. One special inventory is made up of the costumes used for the celebratory procession to mark the Silver Wedding of Emperor Francis Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth in 1879, which was decorated by the “Malerfürst” (“painter prince”) Hans Makart.
The collection is continuously extended. Clothes and accessories in good condition are acquired, specifically those characteristic of a particular epoch in the history of costume leading right up to the present day. Likewise, any important contemporary artefacts reflecting social and economic history are sought and collected, as are those connected in some close way to Vienna.