Leibl, Leather and Loden

Traditional garb is getting fashionable again for young and old alike — also in Eppan.

It is a sunny day in St. Michael | Eppan and springis coming. The musicians in the local music ensemble display their new traditional garb for the firsttime. Let’s have a closer look at one of them as hestands proudly to attention: A big black disk-shapedfelt hat with ‘Tschoggelen’ (tassels) upon his head,a black silken scarf wound around his neck. A whitelinen shirt with wide, puffy sleeves, and the red‘Leibl’, or snug upper body garment, with its green embroidered neckline and the shiny silver buttonson the side peeks out from under the brown lodencoat with its standing collar and lapels. His black,discreetly embroidered knee breeches are tied atthe knee with a green ribbon. The material is chamois-tanned buckskin. Off-white half stockings withtraditional knitted patterns and black buckle shoescomplete the costume. This new traditional garb isrich in detail, and almost everything is hand-made.Six local craft businesses and a leather tailor fromLienz collaborated on the project. A workgroupled by Wilfried Bernard, the former chairman, wasformed in 2014. After all, the existing traditionalgarb had been introduced in 1946 without anydefinite historical basis. ‘It was a musician’s costumerather than traditional garb,’ explains AlexanderPircher from Eppan, a member of the Men’s TraditionalGarb workgroup. It consisted of black loden trousers, a garish bright-red gilet, and a loose-fittingshirt. ‘It wasn’t a very nice shade of red. We wereshining when we stood in the sun,’ says Mr Pircherlaughing. The return to tradition is a cause close tohis heart. The everyday and festive costumes werealready developed in the early 18th century. Whenthere was no work to be done in the orchards andvineyards in the winter, the farmers’ wives wouldsit in the parlours and stitch and knit and sew thetraditional garb. The country folks would wear theirfestive costumes on special occasions and on thehigh holy days. In the past few decades, traditionalgarb was worn mostly by members of the musicband or the shooting association, but young peopleare gradually starting to dress in the traditional costume for church on Sundays, for Confirmation,First Communion, or a wedding. Mr Pircher is happyabout this development: ‘Traditional garb has lostits boring, old-fashioned image. I’m sure that thefact that many makers of traditional dress offerfashionable lederhosen has a lot to do with it.’



Ten years ago, people in St. Michael | Eppan firststarted to wonder whether they might have theirown traditional garb somewhere. But the Project did not become viable until a committed citizen of Eppanmade a bequest to the St. Michael | Eppan music ensemble. The Men’s Traditional Garb workgroup sought out the committeeon South Tyrol Traditional Garb (Lebendige Tracht inSüdtirol), which started researching historical depictions ofEppan traditional garb. ‘We finally ended up using an 1820watercolour painting of Eppan traditional garb by Karl von Lutterotti,’ explains Mr Pircher. The subject of the paintingis a man wearing a red Leibl and a short brown coat with buttons, a standing collar, and brown lapels, a ‘Schölderle’,which was popular in the late 18th and also the 19thcentury. Gradually they were able to reverse engineer thisnew old men’s garb based on old pictures and historicaldocuments. Alexander Pircher and his workgroup dividedthe work among themselves, with each member researchinga different element of the costume: coat, braces, Leibl,shirt, trousers, half stockings, crêpe-de-Chine ribbon, diskshapedhat, buttons, and shoes. The only things that wereretained from the old garb was the old leather belt withquill embroidery, worn with the buckle facing backwards,and the silver buttons on the cloth coat.



The greatest challenge was to find the green ribbons forthe lederhosen, because they had to match the braces incolour and structure. ‘It’s hard to believe, but it took usweeks to find them,’ reminisces Mr Pircher. After contacting the Bavarian Shooting Association, they finally hit paydirtin Munich. In the spring of 2015, the day had finally come:Every musician was meticulously measured by a tailor, andfrom then on it took exactly one year for all 45 men’s garbsto be completed - sewn by hand based on very specificinstructions. All materials used had to be made of naturalfibre such as wool, linen, cotton, or silk, and there wereeven specific instructions concerning the stitches. The newmen’s garb of the Michealer Musig ensemble is very similarto the garb worn in Girlan | Eppan and Frangart | Eppan.And that is a good thing. The members of the workgroupbelieve that the whole Eppan region should have similartraditional garb. The only differences: The men in Girlanwear hats of a different colour, their coats are lighter, andthe Frangart lads have brown buttons on their jackets ratherthan silver ones. Each individual costume is the result of atleast 60 hours of work. But the musicians wear them witha special sense of pride. ‘We are enjoying the hell out ofthis,’ says Mr Pircher with a happy smile.

Text: Petra Schwienbacher

Published on 10.06.2020
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