AUSTRIA INSIGHT by Karin Sawetz, December 2011

Postcard from Austria

Yesterday (Sunday, 18 December 2011), I visited the small town Rust in the east of Austria at the lake Neusiedl; the country region is called Burgenland and reflects the lifestyle of Austrians made of old tradition and open-mindedness spiced with rebellious strategies. At Fashionoffice we think that for understanding the fashion of a culture it is important to look back in history such as recently an Austrian art space director did and visualised her impressions with a fashion collection.

Everything begins with the people's visions for the future such as it happened once in Rust.

Rust is a small but very special town - not only that it looks nice and that you feel like stepping into an architectural time machine where the wine peasants have on their houses family heraldry as signs that they belong to the Austrian aristocracy. They must have been early 'rebels within the system'! The peasants of Rust became by dealing with their wine (not by making war) and contracting with the royalty in the late 17th century a 'royal free city'. Until today, the town Rust administrates itself (they can hand out passports!) although they are only 1.700 people there while normal towns in Austria need to have more than 20.000 inhabitants to apply for their own charter. Rust's full name is still 'Free City of Rust', has an extraordinary status which is written down in the Austrian constitution, and belongs to the economical successful and cultural important towns of Austria.

The former wine peasant-aristocrats' town is today one of Austria's 'flagships' and is internationally known for high-culture in wine. Since 2001, this region of the lake Neusiedl and the town Rust belong to the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage with the reasoning that the region is a meeting place for different cultures for thousands of years and because of the people's symbiotic interacting with nature.

fig. original (from left to right):

Source: Original article with images on http://www.fashionoffice.org/culture/2011/austriainsight12-2011.htm.

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