This is Not die Vorfahrin Oktoberfest

by Derek Holser, Tastemaker in Residence

I was born in Berlin. My dad was drafted for the Vietnam War and when given the option, he chose to learn German instead of Vietnamese in language school. In addition to avoiding bullets, my dad returned to his homeland, of sorts. You see, my father’s family emigrated from Germany long before the early morning hours in June when I took my first breath, and though we returned to the US when I was still a toddler, I’ve always had a fascination with my German heritage. 

Maybe it’s Germany’s reputation for exceptional engineering (the legacy of high-performance automobiles speaks for itself), the clinically rational approach to problem-solving (Einstein, anyone?), or the delicious pastries and deserts. If you haven’t eaten Donauwelle, do so as soon as possible. Here’s a recipe if you aren’t near die Bäckerei - Donauwelle

Among the many things that interest me, one of the most popular has to be the tradition of Oktoberfest. This year marks the 141st anniversary of the event that started the now global party that covers a fortnight from late September to early October. The year was 1810, the town was Munich, and the marriage of Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese the occasion. Everyone came to the fields near the city gates to see the newlyweds. It was a wonderful celebration. The fields took the name of Theresienwiese (“Theresa’s fields”), and the locals still refer to the spectacle as Wies’n

In the early days, a few carousels, swings and a concluding day of horse races characterized the Bavarian celebration. As time passed, beer stands were added, and in 1896, replaced by large beer tents. Fast forward one hundred years and Oktoberfest is the largest festival in the world, with six million visitors from around the world traveling to Munich ever year!

Whether you plan on traveling to Deutschland or gathering with friends to party, two elements of Oktoberfest tend to appear: rich hearty beer and extravagant costumes. Since this post is about style, I’ll leave it to you to be resourceful in your search for suds. Since I’m practically a teetotaler, for me it’s the clothing that counts.

The classic Lederhosen was once an everyday wear item throughout Bavaria. In the 16th and 17th centuries, it was common to wear the outfit pictured below, albeit without motorcycles at the ready:

While that’s a nice look, and will do if you don’t have any other options, as the title of this post intimates, there are new ways of dressing up for Oktoberfest. To borrow from Virginia Slims vintage slogan, “Lederhosen, you’ve come a long way baby!”

Check out this combination from Angermaier - definitely the coolest website I’ve seen for Oktoberfest wear:

With looks this sharp, you’d be right to think you’d accidentally boarded a flight to Milan, not Munich. However you celebrate Oktoberfest, here’s hoping we all get a chance to sport an Angermaier outfit at least once. They look so good, perhaps we’ll see a return to Lederhosen more often than the fortnight from late September to early October. This is definitely not die Vorfahrin Oktoberfest, which in the case of these now everyday wear Lederhosen from Angermaier, is most certainly a good thing.