Clues, Nostalgia, and Identity

Ramon Giron-Melendez
April 16, 2013

With the weather finally clearing up, it feels great to finally shed off all those winter layers. And with so much sun spilling over Vienna, I have to admit I will miss the classic Viennese “winter look.” Initially a trend in Japan and Korea and later exported to Europe, it was interesting to observe how Vienna had embraced the shiny “ bubble-jacket.” As someone who spent most of his life surrounded by relatives on the search for that perfect diet in order achieve that ideal weight, I was puzzled to see a coat that adds on the appearance of girth so popular. However on second thought, I bagen to see that the bubble coat does add a more glamorous edge to conventional bundling material. Moreover, perhaps to the more slimily built Europeans, adding a bit of heft is an admired quality in clothes. Nevertheless, I have to admit that even those who already brought their own personal warmth also wore the bubble jackets. It seems that in Europe, unlike in the States, slimming clothes are not all the rage, but rather it is walking around in current fashion with a capital F. Thin, big, short, or tall, it seems Viennese fashion is for all body types, and can be proudly seen on its diverse set of citizens, each flaunting their own flare.

Now friends, as a city-dweller, I have learned that walking is the most if not one the most important modes of transportation in an urban setting. Consequently, proper footwear is an indispensable part of any city walker’s outfit. And in Vienna, industrial boots seem to be the best option for pedestrian use. No these aren’t hiker inspired Timberlands, no these aren’t gruff sneakers with great grips, these are going-to-work-don’t-know-what’s-going-to-fall-on-my-feet boots. Whether it was in the 50’s or low 30’s, these boots were making an appearance. As someone who is constantly walking, such a heavy set of shoes, personally, would way we me down (not to mention the intense heat that is locked inside the shoe and the sweaty socks that will ensue). Still, the allure of these boots is understandable. Their deep weight gives one a great sense of confidence and stability, a factor most male shoes fail to provide. Men may not have the stiletto in their repertoire of shoe-ware, but these industrial boots help establish a steady beat when walking. Sure, they may not have a heel to clank on the streets of Vienna, but each step still produces a constant beat that gives the entire body a steady rhythm to follow.

Indeed, these industrial boots show that the Viennese, for all their music, art, and freethinking, have an undeniable core of immovability and permanence. Moreover, clues to further understand their overall attitude towards life can be deduced from their outside fashion. The swirl of the scarf, the whimsicality of the “bubble-coats”, and the solemnity of industrial boots, reveal a greater picture of Vienna’s intricate identity. A city, which produced the staunchest of conservatives, while at the same time rendered to the world some of the most progressive and avant-garde intellectuals, Vienna has always been about complexity. However, when all is said and done, Viennese fashion pins itself on effortless balance. The lightness of multi-chromatic torso attire mixed with the somber monochromatic footwear produces a multifaceted image of “ free lover” and “committed citizen”. Not content with only one type of emotion or “image”, the Viennese successfully mix and match auras, creating that Viennese style that calls us to appreciate all sides of life, challenging us to embrace the co-existence of opposing forces and even suggesting that opposites can indeed cooperate and be compassionately reconciled.


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Ramon Giron-Melendez

<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Ramon, originally from Boston, MA, is a Junior currently studying History at Columbia College. Specializing in Eastern European history with a focus on the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, he hopes to deepen his understanding of the fundamentals of the dual monarchy during his time in Vienna. Through comparative research of geo-politically marginalized regions, he aims to find new ideas to aid development in the 3rd world. Strongly believing that everyone has an inner child, he actively works to raise awareness on the rights of children worldwide through is involvement as co-president of the Columbia Child Rights group. However what most captures Ramon&rsquo;s imagination is his admiration for one of Europe&rsquo;s greatest institutions, The Eurovision Song Contest itself! Eagerly following year round developments, Ramon enjoys watching how countries choose to represent themselves to the world and how they project their national identities unto this unique international platform. A passionate fan of music, he spends as much time as possible following the music industry. He can usually be found reading Rolling Stone magazine, keeping his eyes peeled for new emerging music genres, and eagerly looking out for new artists on the rise!</span></div>

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