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Katharina Czerny




    06 March 2012

    by Katharina Czerny

    Even if most people do not know Katarina Noever by name, most of all Austrians have seen the former mannequin. She is the famous woman of the “Diana with Menthol” rubbing alcohol bottle. It is almost a miracle that Noever was chosen in the 1960s with her long, dark hair. The only way to make money as a model in advertising back then was to be the “blond, happy Viennese girl”. But still, after half a century Noever is still gracing the bottle and packaging.

    In 1971 Katarina Noever mixed up Vienna which was a bit colorless at the time. Together with her husband and former MAK director Peter Noever she opened the “Section N” (with the appendix “Warenhandel für Umweltgestaltung GmbH” as required by the authorities) – today it would be a classic concept store. Through her job as well as through her passion for fashion, Noever has acquired many dresses. From suits by Armani to dresses by Missoni and items by Issey Miyake. The Vienna Museum - Wien Museum has taken the opportunity and has acquired 186 items from Vienna’s fashion and lifestyle pioneer of the 1960s and 70s. In the course of the exhibition “More Than Fashion” – the collection by Katarina Noever can be visited until May 20th 2012 at the Vienna Museum, a nice selection of Noever`s fashion and photo collection.

    Katharina Czerny.: How does it feel when your wardrobe is suddenly exhibited in a museum?

    Katarina Noever: I feel very good. All the dresses that are here, I can’t wear them anymore because my figure has changed. And they are in good hands here.

    K.C.: You have sold 186 items to the Vienna Museum. Doesn’t it hurt in some way when you love those pieces and they are not yours anymore?

    K.N.: No. And should any “withdrawal symptoms” occur I can always visit them in the depot!

    K.C.: What are you wearing to the exhibition opening today?

    K.N.: The same dress I wore in 2005 to the presentation of the “Section N Design-Archive” CD at the Architecture Center Vienna. From bottom to top: Black bootees by Francesca Ferrario, Milan 1983. Black and white striped stockings, black long tube skirt made of wool (Wolford 1997), a black and white striped cashmere sweater by Susanne Bauer (custom-made). A black, long jacket by Issey Miyake 1992, and a Shibori scarf in black with white dots.

    K.C.: When did you start to collect your fashion?

    K.N.: I have never collected or hoarded – I have always worn everything, taken good care of it and just never thrown anything away.

    K.C.: Have you never thrown away a piece years ago which you now would have liked to have in your exhibition?

    K.N.: No. But about 20 years ago I gave a friend, a painter, a linen dress with blue linen applications (geometrical/diagonal) as a present. When I asked her if she was still wearing it before I gave my dresses to the Vienna Museum she just answered: “I don’t know where it is!”. I guess she has sold it at a Vienna flea market.

    K.C.: What’s your favourite item of clothing?

    K.N.: In summer, Indian silk pants with a sleeveless shirt and a short kimono jacket (the red one in the exhibition). In winter elastic, black pants by Schella Kann, a cashmere sweater and a black, quilted Macao jacket (checkered on the inside). When it rains a blue raincoat with white dots lined black (see picture) and black rubber bootees. For concerts or festive events: black Miyake dress with white dots and Shibori scarf, clasp shoes.

    K.C.:  You have re-sewn many items or designed your own dresses. Which creative idea can we use?

    K.N.: At a surprise rainfall and only possible in the city: ask for three or four garbage bags at the next restaurant or coffee house, cut a slit for the head with a pocket knife (I always carry one), put it on, a turban or `tschako`- tschako is the Viennese term for a special kind of hat! on the head and voila. Then take off potentially delicate shoes or use a garbage bag each to cover your shoes!

    K.C.: Do you remember how much your most expensive piece of clothing cost?

    K.N.: A tailor-made white smoking with west and skirt (4-piece) in 1979 cost me about 13.000 Austrian Shillings back then (about 1.000 Euro today).

    K.C.: What would you not wear even though it’s in fashion?

    K.N.: High Heels! For decades I have only worn comfortable clothing fitting for the weather and event which I have chose for its quality (cut and material). But sometimes by coincidence one of the items – for example the dotted raincoat from 1999 – is “IN” right now: “2012 is the year of dots”.

    K.C.: Thank you for the interview.

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