Women’s fashion pants from the magazine “Das
Magazin”, 1931
© Münchner Stadtmuseum



Internationally, women’s fashion in the 1930s mixed glamorous chic with a sporty, casual look. 

Posted 24 June 2015

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Clichéd images of strapping young blondes in uniform and stolid mothers of soldiers should not fool us into thinking that women in the Third Reich were any less interested than their sisters abroad in make-up, fashion or cigarettes. Any modern woman who had, even fleetingly, come into contact with New Objectivity was hardly prepared to conform to the Germanic ideal preached by the propagandists. She coveted fashionable elegance and international flair. Indeed Hitler himself appreciated a stylish woman, and his admiration for Magda Goebbels, the epitome of modern German womankind, is a case in point.

Wedding dress, 1938
Artificial silk crêpe, machine embroidery
© Münchner Stadtmuseum

Elegant daywear (by Maggy Rouff), from French magazine “Vogue”, 1939
© Münchner Stadtmuseum

Even after the outbreak of war, the regime maintained a largely tolerant attitude towards elegant French fashion styles, seeing them as a weakness of the fairer sex. The Nazis, it should also be said, were anxious to portray themselves as cosmopolitan in the eyes of the wider world. Besides, the fashion industry was vital to the German economy. Hence, Germany as a whole, and Berlin in particular, continued to source international fashion from Paris and Vienna and bring it to German women. They may have been prepared to don ladylike attire in the afternoon but insisted on being
seen wearing the very latest elegant fashion in the evening.

A yawning gulf had opened up between what fashion was supposed to be in principle and what people actually wore in real life. Nazi Party slogans called, on the one hand, for a return to traditional German values, and yet, at the same time, encouraged people to increase their consumption and aspire to cosmopolitan style to boost the economic recovery. As a result, the German fashion industry and its female customers often suffered from a degree of schizophrenia.

Designs from the German Master School of Fashion Munich, circa 1938
Silk crêpe de chine, artificial silk tulle, artificial flowers
© Münchner Stadtmuseum

Ladies’ dresses from the 1930s
Silk crêpe de chine, wool crêpe
© Münchner Stadtmuseum

Sequin fashion garments, 1935
Artificial silk velvet, cotton tulle, artificial silk, crêpe satin, sequins
© Münchner Stadtmuseum

The exhibition examines the German Master School of Fashion (Deutsche Meisterschule für Mode), founded in 1931, as a prime example of this particular conflict. The Münchner Stadtmuseum has appraised, researched and restored its 1930s fashion collection especially for this exhibition and, as a result, many items can now be displayed for the first time.

Different themed sections offer visitors a varied experience. everyday apparel, evening gowns, wedding dresses, morning dress, negligees, sportswear and traditional costumes all bear witness to the huge range of fashion styles worn in the Thirties. 

Evening dress from the magazine “Wiener Mode”,1935
© Münchner Stadtmuseum

Hairstyle from the magazine “Mode und Heim”, 1935
© Münchner Stadtmuseum

The exhibition features approximately 150 dresses and suits, displayed on handmade mannequins, together with an extensive range of accessories including furs, shoes, purses, hats, scarves, shawls, gloves, jewelry and make-up accessories.
Added variety is provided by illustrations, fashion magazines, fashion photography and posters that further depict the range of clothing worn in this era.
Hirmer Verlag will publish a catalog with a number of color plates to accompany the exhibition.
The Museum has worked in cooperation with the German Master School of Fashion in Munich to
exhibit this period fashion in a new and modern light.
Curator of the exhibition: Dr. Isabella Belting, Fashion / Textiles Collection

Opening hours of Münchner Stadtmuseum
Tue . Sun  10.00 a.m. . 6.00 p.m.

See the Agenda>

Sankt-Jakobs-Platz 1
80331 München
+49 89 23322370

Elegant daywear from the magazine “Deutsche Moden-Zeitung”, 1934
© Münchner Stadtmuseum

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