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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 spring is coming. The musicians in the local music ensemble display their new traditional garb for the first time. Let’s have a closer look at one of them as he stands proudly to attention: A big black disk-shaped felt hat with ‘Tschoggelen’ (tassels) upon his head, a black silken scarf wound around his neck. A white linen shirt with wide, puffy sleeves, and the red ‘Leibl’, or snug upper body garment, with its green embroidered neckline and the shiny silver buttons on the side peeks out from under the brown loden coat with its standing collar and lapels. His black, discreetly embroidered knee breeches are tied at the knee with a green ribbon. The material is chamois-tanned buckskin. Off-white half stockings with traditional knitted patterns and black buckle shoes complete the costume. This new traditional garb is rich in detail, and almost everything is hand-made. Six local craft businesses and a leather tailor from Lienz collaborated on the project. A workgroup led by Wilfried Bernard, the former chairman, was formed in 2014. After all, the existing traditional garb had been introduced in 1946 without any definite historical basis. ‘It was a musician’s costume rather than traditional garb,’ explains Alexander Pircher from Eppan, a member of the Men’s Traditional Garb workgroup. It consisted of black loden trousers, a garish bright-red gilet, and a loose-fitting shirt. ‘It wasn’t a very nice shade of red. We were shining when we stood in the sun,’ says Mr Pircher laughing. The return to tradition is a cause close to his heart. The everyday and festive costumes were already developed in the early 18th century. When there was no work to be done in the orchards and vineyards in the winter, the farmers’ wives would sit in the parlours and stitch and knit and sew the traditional garb. The country folks would wear their festive costumes on special occasions and on the high holy days. In the past few decades, traditional garb was worn mostly by members of the music band or the shooting association, but young people are gradually starting to dress in the traditional costume for church on Sundays, for Confirmation, First Communion, or a wedding. Mr Pircher is happy about this development: ‘Traditional garb has lost its boring, old-fashioned image. I’m sure that the fact that many makers of traditional dress offer fashionable lederhosen has a lot to do with it.’



Ten years ago, people in St. Michael | Eppan first started to wonder whether they might have their own traditional garb somewhere. But the Project did not become viable until a committed citizen of Eppan made a bequest to the St. Michael | Eppan music ensemble. The Men’s Traditional Garb workgroup sought out the committee on South Tyrol Traditional Garb (Lebendige Tracht in Südtirol), which started researching historical depictions of Eppan traditional garb. ‘We finally ended up using an 1820 watercolour painting of Eppan traditional garb by Karl von Lutterotti,’ explains Mr Pircher. The subject of the painting is 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 19th century. Gradually they were able to reverse engineer this new old men’s garb based on old pictures and historical documents. Alexander Pircher and his workgroup divided the work among themselves, with each member researching a different element of the costume: coat, braces, Leibl, shirt, trousers, half stockings, crêpe-de-Chine ribbon, diskshaped hat, buttons, and shoes. The only things that were retained from the old garb was the old leather belt with quill embroidery, worn with the buckle facing backwards, and the silver buttons on the cloth coat.



The greatest challenge was to find the green ribbons for the lederhosen, because they had to match the braces in colour and structure. ‘It’s hard to believe, but it took us weeks to find them,’ reminisces Mr Pircher. After contacting the Bavarian Shooting Association, they finally hit paydirt in Munich. In the spring of 2015, the day had finally come: Every musician was meticulously measured by a tailor, and from then on it took exactly one year for all 45 men’s garbs to be completed - sewn by hand based on very specific instructions. All materials used had to be made of natural fibre such as wool, linen, cotton, or silk, and there were even specific instructions concerning the stitches. The new men’s garb of the Michealer Musig ensemble is very similar to the garb worn in Girlan | Eppan and Frangart | Eppan. And that is a good thing. The members of the workgroup believe that the whole Eppan region should have similar traditional garb. The only differences: The men in Girlan wear hats of a different colour, their coats are lighter, and the Frangart lads have brown buttons on their jackets rather than silver ones. Each individual costume is the result of at least 60 hours of work. But the musicians wear them with a special sense of pride. ‘We are enjoying the hell out of this,’ says Mr Pircher with a happy smile.

Text: Petra Schwienbacher

Published on 10.06.2020
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