Explore the craftsmanship of Austria's most exciting milliner at the German Hat Museum Lindenberg
CHRISTINE ROHR: MILLINER AND ARTIST
Christine Rohr was born in Trofaiach in 1969. Already as a child, she was very interested in head coverings; at the age of 18, she went to the Fashion School Vienna at the Schloss Hetzendorf and decided to take Modiste classes and subsequently decided to obtain a degree in this field.
In 1992, she graduated from the school and passes the examination for the Milliner’s master craftsman’s diploma; she was the last and only one remaining in her field. The following years, she worked as a freelancer, which lead her to work in various jobs. For more than 12 years, (starting in 1996), she carried out freelance work for various Austrian event and theater productions.
In 2004, she fulfilled the long-cherished desire to open her own studio. By this time, her small Graz store and studio is known far beyond the borders of Styria. Exclusive custom-made orders for customers - from home and abroad - are part of her repertoire, including innovative small collections.
CRAFTSMANSHIP AND ACADEMY
In 2015, Christine Rohr was invited to exhibit her hat creations, as one of eight international milliners, within the framework of the Dubai World Cup, which is considered the world’s highest endowed horse-racing event.
Sound craftsmanship and artistic elements are critical to Rohr’s work. Rohr’s long-lived technical expertise and a graduate degree, Magistra artium, in art education and textile art from the University or Arts in Linz in 2005, finally lead her to establish the Christine Rohr Academy – School for Model Millinery and textile design in Graz, to promote young talent in the field. In addition, she holds workshops in fashion schools, vocational schools and teacher colleges. She has also taught internationally at the international Millinery Forum in Wagga Wagga/Australia.
For her tireless professional commitment and her desire to establish her hometown of Graz once again as the “hat capital”, Rohr was awarded with the Styrian coat of arms in 2013.
With the exhibition Old Hat and New Fashion in the Universalmuseum Graz in 2011, Rohr exhibited for the first time in a museum to demonstrate that a hat can be more than just a fashion accessory. Hats, Art, and Fashion by Christine Rohr is now a continuation of her scientific examination of the theme of “BeHueten” and “BeHaupten”.
THE LEGACY OF GRAZ
I consider my hometown of Graz the only Austrian pendant to the German hat capital, Lindenberg. Around 1900, nowhere in Austria were there as many hat industries, milliners and hat makers as in Graz. The reason was that many officers retired in Graz and the women on their sides needed new hats to parade along the Glacis and for every special occasion. That created an upward movement for the trade and produced a lot of income for the millinery business in the city. Naturally, the annual ball of the milliner and hatmaker guild took also place in Graz.
Today, there is not much left from the glamour of those times; the stores are closed, and the manufacturers don’t exist anymore. Barely anything remains from those heydays. And yet, a few of us milliners have stayed. As the last examinee of the milliner’s trade with a master craftsman's diploma from Styria, it is my mission to conserve, develop and pass on the knowledge and craft of my profession and inform the public what the nowadays almost antiquated term milliner really encompasses these days.
THE FUTURE OF MILLINERY
The future of the head covering will be different than its past. Large hat manufacturers will be history. Small and fancy hat specialists who network internationally will take their place and offer their wearers a new self confidence. It won’t be the wealth that is represented on heads. Individualists and people with courage and self confidence will be the ones to attend to the hat as an accessory. There will still be a lot of ‘head objects’ worn as a statement on the heads to beautify our future.
"A wig is a wrong claim."
Johann Nepomuk Nestroy
The primary function of everyday hats is to protect and guard people from environmental influences such as the sun, wind, rain, snow, and other weather conditions. The purpose of the hat also drives the choice of its material, which in turn influences their form and shape.
“The source of all arts is the craft.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
At the beginning of the industrial age, society was confronted with a dilemma of definitions. Ostensibly, the creative process and its product became invisible through the mechanization and the manufacturing of mass-produced goods. Individuality seemed to be lost as well as one’s identity associated with it. The Arts and Crafts movement of the 19th century with its return to artisanstry led to the re-emergence of this creative scene; the focus returned to the essential and paved the ground for new starting points in creative processes.
Knowledge, practice, perception, imagination and intuition are the abilities and skills that Christine Rohr incorporates in her creations. Therefore, it is only fair that Christine Rohr’s enchanting and unique creations be regarded as art objects; through her works, she possesses the necessary self-criticism to constantly reflect, upon, and change her creative process, as she thinks about new projects in the future.
“Hats, by which what is really fantastic becomes for a moment the universal.”
The repertoire of fashionable forms of expression has expanded many times over, since the Renaissance. European society changed completely at the end of the middle ages as a result of a new found focus toward the person as an individual, the discovery of the New Worlds, and technological innovations.
HATS, ARTS & FASHION
The special exhibition “Hats, Art & Fashion” was, of course, primarily composed under those aspects of everyday life, events and the future. However, I was surprised when I looked closely, that I could always see the triad in the exhibited pieces. A three dimensional imagination is a prerequisite to create pieces incorporating these different aspects. This leads us to head coverings that can be divided into three main categories: hat, cap and fascinator. Throughout my creative process, I constantly strive to unite the three aspects - craft, design and art - in every single object.