Two weekends ago our day outing fell short of expectations by a mile. The following weekend’s outings exceeded expectations by a mile, and then some.

On Saturday we caught up with Slovak friends at a newish market in Bratislava, like a market would be if Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s had a baby and decorated the nursery with a hipster food court. Croatian wine, French blackberry preserves, smoked pork products (our nod to living in Central Europe) plus a bag of dried-and-fried chicken feet for Clayton Theodore (gross, yes) and more all found their way into the shopping tote we had been (wisely) advised to bring along.

Our choice for lunch was the Hummus and Couscous Bar. For a mere €5 one could embellish their pureed chickpeas (or couscous) with everything from Shawarma to Falafel, and even both if that is how you roll.

After lunch we bid our friends Dovidenia, and decided to take in an exhibit currently running at the Slovak National Gallery on “Slovak Fashion from 1945-1989.”

The exhibit was an extremely well curated history of “domestic garment production – from the cooperative manufacturers focused on the individualised, almost custom, fashion through the massive segment of ready-to-wear clothing to the studio work of designers fighting to speak from the early 1980s.”

Fashions for the workplace and the Haus Frauen; and mobile shopping for workers in the farming cooperatives.

Bratislava was the scene for Parisian style fashion shows and photo shoots during the Cold War years.

Women were encouraged to make their own clothing, with Dorka patterns being all the rage.  In the 1980’s the German Burda patterns and fashion magazine were introduced; the magazine was expensive, so it was common for women to share the periodical.

For Cold War diplomats, Tuzex was the department store. For Czechoslovaks, it was also the department store…for window-shopping.
This style from 1960’s Czechoslovakia seems to have aged well, as evidenced by the dress by the American First Lady on her visit with the Queen of Jordan.

“Haute Couture” for men, circa the 1970’s.

“Haute Couture” for women, as well. I must add that we have seen numerous versions of the day coat and hat around 21st century Vienna. Does that make it retro fashion?

Proof that the 1980’s was a terrible decade for fashion, be it in America or behind the Iron Curtain.

Politicos and historians have their theories about what felled the Berlin Wall and heralded the end of Communist Europe. After touring the exhibit, I believe this is what actually ended the Cold War. Women across Communist Europe were finally sick and tired of wearing clothes like this…
…while being told they were equal to women wearing clothes like this. 🙂
 The second half of our weekend was equally spectacular. Central Europe does its festivals right, and this annual celebration of a “Steiermark Spring” held at the the Wiener Rathausplatz (City Hall Square) is one of our favorites. Steiermark is the state to the south of Vienna, and for four days every April they showcase the best of their products in grand style; today we and just a few others dropped in on the festivities. Dirndls and Lederhosen burst forth like spring blooms; Wurst and Backhendl to tempt even the fussiest epicureans; beers and wines flowing like alpine springs after a long winter; and the music…well, how about a good old American gospel hymn to wrap up a weekend that just comes together?