The beginning of June will once at see Vienna hosting the 11 Festival for Photography & Fashion, a rather nebulous and sprawling affair that sees the city embracing a broad range of fashion-connected projects and culminating in the Austrian Fashion Awards that recognise strong home-grown talent.
This year, as we have already noted at other manifestations elsewhere, attention is specifically given over to examining contemporary art’s influence on fashion, a discussion that is specifically encouraged by festival campaign conceived by renowned artist Austrian Erwin Wurm and shot by photographer Elfie Semotan.
Being somewhat removed from the traditional centres of fashion has not prevented Vienna – and Austria more generally- from producing some of the strongest talents at work in the world of international fashion today. On the whole, however, their success has been achieved by their moving to those traditional centres to make their fame and fortune. So, although there are the usual catwalks and showroom presentations by young and home-based talent and a range of industry-orientated events on offer for the budding fashion professional, one of the key features of this festival is its strong offer of more experimental and unusual approaches to fashion. There is also a concerted attempt to ensure that strong international components are built into the programme. For example, there is a unique collaboration that sees the work of four young Chinese designers presented to a Viennese audience.
For those who do decide to make the trip, they are unlikely to come away with the same old jaded “Been there. Done that” experience. Though they might well get the t-shirt: the offer of pop-up shops and temporary projects selling interesting and unique fashion is very strong, offering extensive fare from abroad in addition to all the local efforts of talented young designers.
Of course, fashion photography lies at the heart of the festival. This year much of it is from younger talent or less obvious choices. So, once again, not the usual globalised fodder. With eleven different gallery venues each presenting their own particular approach to addressing fashion photography, there’s also some convenient help on hand in the form of a tour put on by the festival that enables the visitor to get to grips with all eleven exhibitions. The city’s renowned institutions have also done their bit to engage, for example, offering special tours with a fashion and costume history slant through the robust collections of various museums.