As Austria’s fashion capital, Vienna attracts both artists and style-conscious crowds from around the world. Celebrity designer Juergen Christian Hoerl guides Culture Trip through his favourite fashion boutiques in Vienna.
“Gone are the days when ‘made in Austria’ meant just dirndl and Tyrolean jackets. The mix of different cultural influences, Imperial charm and modernity in Vienna enchants visitors from around the world, making the city a fashion hotspot in the heart of Europe,” says Juergen Christian Hoerl. The Viennese designer, who has worked with celebrities such as Austrian Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst, mastered his craft in London and Milan before founding his label JCH Juergen Christian Hoerl in 1999.
While Vienna Fashion Week is undoubtedly the annual highlight of the scene, the city’s many independent boutiques, which sell both local and international brands, are a must-visit all year round. As a fashion week regular and an expert on the Austrian scene, Hoerl shares his pick of the top 10 boutiques to visit in Vienna.
Hoerl’s flagship store is located on Opernring, near Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier and Burggarten. The light-flooded corner shop, which is decorated all in white with minimalist interiors that resemble fashion boutiques in New York and the like, offers high-quality womenswear, bags, jewellery and accessories. “Our ready-to-wear collections are modern, casual, sporty and all handcrafted locally in Austria,” says Hoerl, stressing that he aims to cater for all types of budgets, with prices as low as €50 (£43). However, the main focus of JCH is tailor-made pieces; personal appointments at the designer’s studio can be booked by phone and email.
Founded by Romana Zöchling in 2013, FERRARI ZÖCHLING is a women’s apparel label selling limited-edition designs that are all handmade on-site. Hoerl praises the “clear cuts and shapes” as well as the “eye-catching colours and prints” on offer at this studio-shop, with the latter often emerging from collaborations with Austrian artists, who have previously included Katharina Höglinger and Marianne Vlaschits. Zöchling, a regular at Vienna Fashion Week, uses high-quality materials such as viscose and silk and is known for her relaxed and comfy easy-to-wear styles. She also frequently works with actors and musicians, and created the stage outfit for Austria’s Eurovision contestant Paenda in 2019. Her shop is right in the heart of trendy Neubau, a stone’s throw from Mariahilfer Straße.
Salzburg-born designer Karin Oèbster celebrated the 20th anniversary of her label last year. An avant-garde fashion and accessories designer, she aims to boost her customers’ self-confidence through extravagant yet wearable designs. “KAYIKO’s pieces are unique, cosmopolitan, luxurious and handcrafted in Austria. The quality is top-notch,” says Hoerl. True to her motto, “expect the unexpected”, each of Oèbster’s collections is unlike the others, and her shows rank among the most anticipated at the annual Vienna Fashion Week. Her shop on Windmühlgasse is located in a beautiful Baroque building, with the minimalist interiors deliberately contrasting with the elaborate facade. Oèbster takes care of her customers personally, and appointments outside the regular opening hours can be arranged by phone or email.
If you are keen on checking out the latest fashion in Vienna but aren’t looking for a specific designer, Not Another Concept Store is a great option. The brightly lit shop lies inside the prestigious Ringstraßen-Galerien, a high-end shopping mall housing 50 boutiques in two buildings connected by a glass bridge. Not Another Concept Store has been selling womenswear, menswear, accessories and beauty products from both Austrian and international designers since May 2018. However, it’s more than just a place to buy a trendy piece. “What makes it stand out is that the shop doubles as an event space for fashion-related exhibitions, workshops and talks,” says Hoerl. “Make sure to check out its monthly programme.”
Jutta Pregenzer’s stylish boutique in Schleifmühlgasse, a five-minute stroll from Vienna’s popular Naschmarkt, has attracted fashion fans for more than 20 years. Simplistic interiors filled with light make the perfect setting for her trendy yet timeless womenswear and accessories, crafted from high-quality materials with a focus on sustainability. “Jutta Pregenzer’s designs are easily recognisable by their minimalist silhouettes and exceptional fabrics,” says Hoerl. The designer herself explains that she aims to use locally produced materials whenever possible. She also sells her favourite pieces by fellow Austrian and international designers at the shop.
Although elfenkleid is best known for its bridal fashion, its beautiful evening dresses are also worth a closer look. “While glitzy gowns for the famous Viennese balls can be found all around town, elfenkleid’s designs are just as elegant without all the sequins typically found on similar robes,” claims Hoerl, adding that “the boutique is also a good place to find a statement summer dress.” The designers behind the Viennese brand, Sandra Thaler and Annette Prechtl, focus on elegant yet playful and feminine styles, typically in muted colours but with the occasional vibrant splash. Their small studio on Margaretenstraße near Karlsplatz is a welcoming place whose white interiors are decorated with a rocking chair, huge windows and a wooden floor, all mirroring the brand’s sophisticated style.
Just around the corner from St Stephen’s Cathedral, this two-floor boutique offers high-end yet cool and relaxed womenswear. Owner Firis is a firm believer that fashion can boost people’s self-confidence, and she aims to choose clothes that do just that by hand-picking “pieces with personality” from brands around the world. “The shop offers an ever-changing mix of well-known labels as well as young designers from England, Belgium, Japan, Italy and the US,” says Hoerl. While Firis has a weak spot for limited-edition pieces by up-and-coming designers, she also sells styles by her favourite global brands, including Dries Van Noten and Julien David. The carefully arranged designs sit side-by-side in the shop, with two comfy armchairs and a golden Buddha in the centre contributing to the luxurious details of its interior.
“Mühlbauer has been around for more than 100 years and is one of the most traditional hat suppliers in Vienna, with all items carefully handcrafted from the highest quality fabrics,” says Hoerl. Julianna Mühlbauer established the family business in 1903, opening a tiny hat shop in the north of the city, and quickly made a name for herself. It didn’t take long before the shop moved to the prestigious first district. Nowadays, Mühlbauer is run by Julianna’s great-grandson Klaus, who has turned it into a global brand, shipping 60 percent of the shop’s hats abroad. Brad Pitt, Meryl Streep, Madonna and Yoko Ono, who have all sported the signature sweeping “M” of Mühlbauer’s designs, are living proof that traditional means everything but old-fashioned in this shop. Prices start at €175 (£150).
With its dark-wood shelves, chandelier and smell of leather in the air, Ludwig Reiter’s shoe shop feels like it’s from the past. Founded in 1885, the Austrian family business is well known for its exceptional craftsmanship and timeless designs. The venture is currently run by the fourth generation of the Reiter family, with several shops in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, but Vienna remains the home base of the brand, where 50 employees handcraft 30,000 pairs of shoes a year. “The process is nicknamed ‘the royal design’, a special procedure involving up to 300 steps to ensure the brand’s durable and comfortable yet elegant styles,” explains Hoerl. The shop also sells handbags, belts and suitcases.
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