If you´ve been reading my blog for a while you know that I am a fan of the Tiefe Kümmernis, probably Vienna´s only art expert who is also on occasion a drag queen. This weekend s/he is leading another tour entitled “Fashion, Darling” at the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna on 28 April, and it´s all about fashion. Now, I am not usually all that interested in fashion, I do not follow any fashion blogs, and anyone who knows me has probably seen me in jeans and a T-shirt more often than not. But learning about the history of fashion, or fashion in art, that´s something I can work up some enthusiasm for. So a couple of weeks ago I joined the Kümmernis on the first such tour at the KHM, and of course loved it.
The tour was focused on only a small number of paintings, mostly portraits showing people in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Remember that fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen, the Emperor´s New Clothes? A trickster offered a set of clothes so fine and so unique that they would be invisible to anyone not fit for his or her office, and the super-vain and fashion-addicted emperor fell for it. Well, in the paintings we saw, the subjects sure wanted their rich and highly decorative clothes to be visible and admired by everyone.
The Tiefe Kümmernis explained form and function, materials used and also what the clothes shown said about the wearer. We learned about different aspects of fashion, such as the intimate connection of the way clothes are styled and worn with gender roles and social classes.
It must have taken ages to put on outfits such as these back in the Renaissance days. Remember, this was before zippers!
On the other hand, the fashion worn by peasants was of course much simpler, as shown in these paintings by Pieter Bruegel the elder.
All in all, a fascinating tour. What I would say is that there were too many people (perhaps an upper limit of 30 might be good?), and of course, that an hour goes by much too quickly when the tour is so interesting and fun.
Unfortunately, it seems that the coming tour is already sold out on the KHM website, but some spare tickets are available on the day of. The fashion tour is in German, but the Kümmernis also offers special LGBTIQ-themed tours in both English and German at the KHM during May and April. You can find the schedule for these on the KHM website or on the Kümmernis´s Instagram feed.
There is more bad news in this. I was sad to learn that after an epic spring with many many guided tours by the Kümmernis, s/he will be going on an indefinite hiatus from museum tours. So, catch her while you can!