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30 May 2016

Wien Museum exhibition 'Chapeau' explores social changes with headwear from 1848 until now

From 9 June until 30 October, the museum of the city of Vienna, the 'Wien Museum' exhibits under the title 'Chapeau! A Social History Of The Covered Head' headwear from 1848 until now and explores how changes of society and fashion history happened in the city's various social, political and religious groups. Vienna is located in the middle between East and West, was one of the most important international metropoles during the 19th century and is traditionally a melting pot of various cultures. 'Chapeau' presents headwear as statements as well as simple fashion accessories.

The around 140 artefacts (hats, scarves,...) are selected for the exploration of five aspects of social change: politics - and the use of headwear as visual signs of the political affiliation such as during the revolution in 1848; emancipation - with examples how male headwear became a statement of women for equal rights; religion - and how restrictions or regulations of wearing headwear affected men and women; social class differences - and how the fashion trend of luxurious hats had on the one hand a positive impact on the creation of work places and on the other hand, a negative impact on social justice caused by the exploitation of workers at the end of the 19th century; the salary of workers was so low that they couldn't afford to buy one of the exclusive hats. The fifth theme concerns the city's fashion history shown on the examples of popular Viennese hat manufactories of the 19th and 20th century, prominent wearers from theater and film, and the special fashion school program for hat makers at Modeschule Hetzendorf.

fig.: Scene from everyday life in Vienna, ca. 1900. Photo: Emil Mayer. © Wien Museum/Birgit und Peter Kainz.


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