Tag Archives: Vienna

Viennese Fashion Week

Let’s start with a bit of honesty. Vienna is not my favorite. 

The streets are beautiful but slow and quiet, where I am fast and loud. Too American, not out of pride but of speed, finding the fastest route through the crowd and passing pedestrians with each stride. I hover my two suitcases a few inches from the ground and take the stairs as people with pockets take the escalator- legs stick straight and arms gently crossed as they ride. Why would I take the escalator to stand there?

The Viennese are lovely, as I leave them on the street behind me, but I thought this was a city! I want constant chatter and 24/7 corner stores. A fight in the street just to prove the city is alive, breathing, and bleeding. But Vienna doesn’t breathe; it sighs, blowing low clouds over its streets and turning time at half speed. 

The air is warm, a humid embrace. The sun pierces through constant clouds until the next fever break. The rain never lasts more than fifteen minutes, though it does chill my skin and mark the windows with its tiny universes. 

My AirBnB did not have Wi-Fi. Thrice, I searched for Vienna coffee shops equipped with outlets and Wi-Fi, pulling out my laptop only to be told that laptops were not allowed. What?

They said talk, just sit here, sip your hot coffee slow. But I don’t speak that language, or German for that matter. 

Yet, I was in a foreign country! How could I complain when I am not in America? My biggest problem is a lack of internet and nightlife; it could certainly be worse. I took this nine-day pill as an exercise of patience and leisure. A challenge, but a simple one.  

Taking to my task, I walked for hours a day, gazed at monuments and cathedrals, read four books, and drank too many red wine spritzers- my new drink of choice for the bubbles and to make the wine last longer on my lips. 

I could pass the time like this, but, I wanted more. I wanted something new to look forward to each day. Something to stamp each sun with distinction.

I knew what would make me feel better- fashion. If I was going to laze around for a week, then I was going to look good doing it! For having only two suitcases and an average-sized backpack to my name, I did have more than enough articles to keep things interesting. 

And so, with no further adieu, I present you with my Vienna Fashion Week!

Monday

Starting the week strong with a Daphnie-esque look. I have been wanting to wear these purple pants for a while, but in Munich, I never found the right weather/activity combination. Thankfully, with Vienna’s cloudy days, I was presented with the perfect time for purple. 

Chico’s green tank from Chicago’s Village Discount (oh, how I miss you <3).

Purple pants hand-made vintage from Shangri-La (lovely shop, but the owner can’t help herself from fat shaming everyone).

White Doc Martin Boots (not pictured). 

Floral headscarf from my mother’s cousin. 

Gold earrings from Thrilling Vintage (thanks, mom xoxo)

Standard jewelry: pearl necklace from Nordstrom, gold bracelet found in Arts and Letters (DePaul building), gold Fossil watch, daily rings (L-R): silver hand and onyx, gold purple stone, silver Chicago skyline, block purple, silver sun and moon, gold grandfather’s university band, and gold band (thanks Amani <3). 

Tuesday (morning)

A casual Tuesday, I chose a classic flowy white shirt and basic jean shorts. I wandered the streets aimlessly and indulged in an accidental ice cream when I ordered the Eis Koffee. A simple fit for a simple mistake. 

Button-up sleeveless Canda white top from a Viennese thrift shop, Hansel & Gretel.  

Dark wash Capezio denim shorts from Village Discount. 

White Asics tennis shoes (not pictured). 

Silver waterfall earrings from Thrilling Vintage.

Tuesday (evening)

The Mozart Orchestra Concert! I had to dress to the nines. I had been waiting a while for an occasion to wear the corset (*cough* Berlin would’ve been perfect), but here was my second chance. Determined to make it work, I tried the top over a variety of shirts, dresses, and skirts until I finally decided to ditch the straps of my black dress and tuck them under the edge of the corset. Aside from some awkward adjusting, I like how it came together.

Embroidered Charolette Russe corset from Buffalo Exchange.

Black XOXO cocktail dress also from Buffalo.

White Doc Martin boots.

Wednesday

I followed my (crazy) night out at the orchestra with another simple denim ensemble. Not to be too boring, I added a pop of color with my pink bra under the lace top. A livening detail, yet the conservative Austrians likely thought me careless. Good, for what’s life without a bit of shock? 

Black Zara lace tank from Hansel and Gretel.

Light wash Levi 550s from Village Discount.

Visage earrings from H&M (purchased in the old times of 2014). 

White Asics tennis shoes.

Thursday

Vroom vroom bitch we got a car shirt. This green baby tee is a bit of a comfort item for me. Packing for Europe meant saying goodbye, or at least see you later, to more than 80% of my wardrobe. A grand sacrifice, if you will, for my European freedom. I purged through my collection of car shirts and debated many of them out of my final draft. As sole agent of it’s population, this shirt represents them all and serves as a sentimental connection to my family. A gift from my mom to my sister and me, with an image of my dad’s favorite obsession. Cheesy, I know, but I promise I’m tough- just look at my car shirt. 

Green baby tee from Target. 

Light wash shorts by DENIM from Village Discount.

Yellow Doc Martin sandals. 

Santorini canvas bag.

Friday

For the finale, I kept things Molly Ringwald with the appearance of my half-DIY pants. While in Munich, I stumbled upon these pants at a thrift store and cursed the Gods of long legs when they fell a few inches above my ankle in the dressing room. But they fit perfectly everywhere else, so I forked over the €5 and took home a project. I sewed on a bit of fabric I brought just in case, and I am glad I did. Pairing them with my favorite denim, this fit felt like a bubblegum pop.

Pink Zara tank top from Crossroads.

Denim MNGjeans vest from Willa (you killed it <3). 

Pink Kapalua Jeans Pants from Second Round, another Munich thrift shop.

White Asics tennis shoes.

Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Theophilus Mozart

A name too long to capture the simple beauty of his music. 

Ears open and facing the open Opera, I took it in. Horns vibrating from lips pursed and pressed to the narrow end. Strings shuddering with the touch of bow hair. Precision in the procession of Mozart’s music. 

Dressed in wigs and white ankles, the orchestra arrives. 

Now though the music is Mozart’s, his command never graced this hall. Big and beautiful, the Wiener Musikverein opened in 1870, just under eighty years after his death. 

Despite the anachronism, the Wiener Musikverein’s style is that of the high renaissance, its designers enforcing strict historicism in its form. 

With high ceilings and gold galore, the site is impressive. 

Wiener Musikverein

Crystal sparkles like a smile with translucent teeth

One bling, one bright star on hanging canines

Lips laced with golden antiquity.

gold&gold&gold 

Dripping there- down the walls from coated ceiling 

Here- across from our balcony- more.

Deep winds and slow strings

weave something more valuable if you listen.

Trace the walls with your eyes, with

Ears pressed firm to solid beauty, hear,

the music congealing and falling

Like loose crystal between us.

But I am getting ahead of myself. You can’t have the music without the man. Let’s start at the beginning. 

1756, Mozart is born in Salzburg. Within his sixth year, he is paraded around the country as a prodigy. Just a child, the music flows easily from his nimble fingers. It is in Vienna where he spends most of his years composing and playing, elevating the city to a new standard of music.

The city of music, this is what I thought when I booked my ticket to Vienna. Though the city is known for a multitude of artists, Mozart is at the forefront, his name marking more cafes and shops than any other, vendors grasping at adjacent notoriety. 

I decided to play along, poking my head in such storefronts and strolling through the manicured garden that encircles Mozart’s monument. 

It was beautiful. He is immortalized in frozen figure, but the tribute is alive. Flowers grow from under his feet and form a giant treble clef in the grass.

Resting my legs on a park bench adjacent to the monument, I began researching Mozart concerts and quickly found the Concert Wiener Mozart Orchester. The Orchester plays through two hours’ worth of Mozart’s most notable pieces.

I booked it, pulled out my little black dress, and began a slow walk to the concert hall. Stopping for dinner and a glass of wine, I wrote.

Pre-Music

Red wine for my red lipstick

More rouge than red

Color set to fade above

My corset pinned and clasped a hundred little times

Over silk and cotton until I settle on nothing

It is best to be bare

To be stripped of every awkward article until

The corset fits just right

Taut around torso

Something to look at before my face

The lipstick is fading after all

Rouge on the ocean of open lips

And who am I if not pretending

As my salad settled, I continued my stroll to the Wiener Musikverein. I still had an hour and a half to kill, and the concert hall stood in all its evening glory in front of me. 

I took a lap around the block, wandering through side streets and storefronts I found myself in the deafening silence of a hotel restaurant. The friendly waiter went erily quiet as soon as we passed through the arched doors, and I knew what was happening. I was among the rich.

Accidental Glass of Rose

The rich do not speak, they murmur

Taken by the cafe quiet, they are silent.

Young girl can’t return my smile

The small movement is hushed

By stone-cold parents,

Shushed lips vibrating together for snide from

White face and white hair spiked like an aristocratic Guy Ferrari.

The waiter is more than kind to me,

I wonder how he got here.

Where he smiled before preparing these silver platers

How they shine, sparking 

around an inch of food for €55.

I’ve been there too,

Serving the silent,

Paid for pretending,

For smiling at their luxury of nothing. 

Sipping my single glass of rose, I read and wrote as I watched the time tick by. At last, it was five til eight, and I stood in line for the concert, excited and slightly uncomfortable with the abundance and glamour around me.

Nevertheless, I mounted the stairs and took to my balcony view, a birds-eye just over the musicians, perfect for quiet observation. 

White ankles and calves starched to the knee. Here, legs turn black with a fold, leading up to yellow, blue, green, and purple, all colors gold with threads of antiquity. 

The music swells and changes, a dull churning consuming sound, and this is just the first song. We clap, polite silence save the slap of skin on skin. We must clap before and after every piece, just as they must don powdered wigs for posterity. 

For the semantics of the symphony.

Austrian First Impressions

The new apartment has a bath. This detail initially shrugged off, has become a luxury. And I am grateful for the simple pleasure of a steaming tub.

Perched in the attic of a red-toned apartment building, my white windows stick their noses to the street. The sill- wide enough to hold my body- does, as my eyes roam the modest skyline.

Orange talons, filed by my idle hands, pull my shoulders up and out the slanted window and over the street.

Lion-headed guards flank the building to my left, their jaws clenched tight around marble rings. Behind their carved heads, the building’s stone is veiled in an Olympic sea color, softly fading with weather’s attention. To the right, the clouds consume the horizon’s view.

After the breeze had adequately nibbled my shoulders, the bath was ready: steam wafting from soapy waters, illusioned fingers curling to circle my rain-chilled figure.

Here I am recounting my activities inside an AirBnB while free to roam a foreign city. But listen, the days here are slow. Breaks don’t break your schedule; you drift through quiet corners and cobblestone corridors unbothered and unfazed.

I am fast.

I make the most of each pound on the pavement, marching through an urgent mission toward whatever color in my vision can slow my gaze. The local lull doesn’t slow me down; they linger along the side of the street in quiet clusters, shoes pressed in a deliberately ambling procession.

Even so, sometimes, one catches my eye.

Girl Crossing the Street Vienna, Austria. 08/21/22.

Pink is her favorite color,

So she wears it in a flash below darkness. 

A quick zip up the other side of her sole,

Pointing teeth up to scarlet head.

I wonder if her step walks along Wien or Vienna.

Tongue purring along different letters for the same sound,

Curling around their last letter. 

Distinction stamped and pressed 

In the darting color 

across her shoe.

I feel like I am on 2x speed as even the river seems content to spin lazily towards its spill. I sound bitter, but I promise I appreciate the change of pace. With ease, I can wind through the thin crowds and find my way to my next objective in a snap.

Contrasting their leisurely steps, mine gift me more time for my own kind of leisure. Hence, my bath.

As I soak, I think about the constant veil of rain, how it peppers the river in its rush, drops joining the current as it drips along the graffiti-colored channel.

Green. No, more aqua and turquoise in color. Unlike the crystal waters of Munich, Vienna’s add to the city’s color palette. Salmon pink, grey stone, touch-of-blue sky, and gold, darkened by the turn of time.

Squinting your eyes and tilting your head, turns back the clock. The gold is bright and polished, the apartment buildings freshly painted and carved. These bones are still there.

Venders are now burrowed in the lower levels of each building, window-display eyes opening ancient brick. Construction does cluster around street corners, but with the object of maintaining, not reimagining. Restaurants take an opening and spill out onto the street, littering the ground with tables and chairs and spritzers under light rain.

At these restaurants, you are brought water without asking—a miraculous gift for my dry American tongue.

I have grown accustomed to Germany’s (as the rest of Europe’s) gatekeep of water. The simple drink is guarded by prices higher than beer. Perhaps the Austrian glass is enough to compensate for Vienna’s lack of Summer sun.

When I arrived at the Munich train station to make my departure, I realized I had assumed it would take me much longer to trek my two suitcases and hefty backpack from apartment to train and now had an extra half hour to burn at the central station.

A make-shift chair formed by an overturned suitcase separated me from the grisly ground, and I began people-watching to pass the time.

Cigarette Vending Machine

Chubby fingers stick to the plastic pressed buttons
Toddler eyes wide, hands spread in plump starfish- reaching
Her father turns his attention to his burning cigarette
Tiny legs dance in pools of day-old rain
Anger comes with discarded drops but
At the center, he loves her
The curled-haired nymph
as pink and pouting as all innocence
But golden chains hang his ego like soft silk
Legs dangling over their own reflection
Empty cigarette boxes litter this floor
Cardboard universes for all
She inhales tobacco breath as she looks inside
Stars shine through worn corners
Thick is the smell, the smoke, the ghost
Burned out and discarded, he can’t find her
His hard hands can’t hold on to both
Pocketing his cigarette box
He only finds it empty when pressed flat
A wet galaxy, crumpled with grief

Leaving Munich was not without difficulty. Not only did I imagine myself indifferent to having an actual seat on the train, but the railed road was taking me away from new friends and now-familiar street corners.

A backrest bolstered my departure as we pulled away from the second stop. I had found a backbone in the cascading steps at the crossroads of the train car’s exit doors. Resting back on backpack, my eyes were graced by a few fifteen-minute almost-naps before the final stop.

Emerging from the stationed train, my feet touched Viennese soil. Now the German language doesn’t mean German lips, but I am finding my rest tucked in the rainy streets of Wien.