Here’s an old photo showing an emblematic couple of the Viennese Secession – Austrian artist Gustav Klimt and Emilie Louise Floge, his life companion. Please note the originality of their outfits. Klimt is worldwide known for his artworks; Emilie was an Austrian fashion designer and businesswoman, promoting a niche style in clothing of the time. Making dresses was part of the Secessionist logic of blurring the boundaries between art and craft through the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk, or ‘universal artwork’. So, there’s no wonder Klimt and Emilie have worked together on various fashion pieces.
Influenced by the feminist movement and the concept of the “rational dress”, Emilie’s particular dress styles looked quite out-of-their-time. At the turn of the 20th century in Vienna, a dress like this would be considered more experimental and marginal, comparing to the official fashions. That’s why these kind of dresses remained unpopular. More recently, Rick Owens or Nicolas Andreas Taralis also tried their hand at reviving the concept, but the amazing fact is that these frocks are still avant-garde today. Even 100 years after.