She carries a famous name and has written history, fashion history in the GDR (former East Germany). She did not want to be content with the uniform-like gray of the clothes and wanted bring color to the body.
The parents of the unconventional noble (born in 1944) moved from Austria to Germany during the war. In the beginning in 1967 the fashion designer and journalist worked for the women’s magazine “For You” and started to make fashion herself, more colorful, elegant, different – always in conflict between individuality and creativity and the lack of materials on the other side. And finally against the “big brother is watching system “Stasi” of the GDR superiors. But she managed to establish her own label – part of it to be seen today in the Fashion Museum of Meyenburg Castle north of Pritzwald in Brandenburg.
When she finally opened the first private boutique at Prenzlauer Berg in East Berlin in 1980, there were knee-length necklaces, padded dungarees and skirts with up to seven petticoats on top of each other. Necessity is the mother of invention: when in West-Germany “wooden flipflops” were en vogue, she quickly created her own rattles by cutting two breakfast boards in half and nailed a plastic band to it …somehow my style.
In rows, the customers – especially young people – stood in front of the store, and in the evening everything was sold out,” she recalls. In the “Exquisit Store”, where also Western brands were sold, mainly the wifes of the officials were able to shop. There a coat easily cost an average of a monthly salary.
She countered the legendary absense of natural fibers by reworking old sheets or putting together linen and towels; a novelty in the land of synthetic fabrics. No wonder that her fashion creations and exhibitions had full attention and were of rousing interest (according to her own stories, often eyed by “Stasi-security” members).
Her entire life she has collected (historical) clothes, dolls and teddy bears. It all started with her grandmother’s black dress. “That should be thrown away, even though it was from the turn of century, her time in Vienna”.
According to her statements, it was less collecting feaver, than as a desire for rescue. One day, she even climbed into a dumpster to save a dance dress from the 1920s. “I restored it at some point, provided it with a new silky undergarment and allowed the flower to blossom again under steam.”
While the red-haired made funky blouses of bed sheets, shower curtain and Molton cloths conjured, she risked sometimes head and neck to illegally get to the rare natural fibers. She regularly slipped through a hole into the fenced grounds of a Russian settlement. The Russians, however, possessed the required cotton. I manipulated the provider with western nail polish and coffee, and I already had my stuff ball,” … which again turned the “Stasi” onto the plan.
Today, 74-years old Josefine Edle von Krepl is no longer interested in the fashion business. For this reason, she manages her own fashion museum at Meyenburg Castle (Brandenburg) since several years. There is room for 350 clothes and accessories – which is exactly one tenth of the collection.
In 2014, on the occasion of a “White Dinner Fashion Show” in Bad Doberan (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern near Heiligendamm / Baltic Sea), I had the honor to wear and present a selection of these rare precious clothes from the turn of the century. Everything made from the finest cotton, gossamer linen, silk crepe and hand-knotted lace.
For this one-hour runway show, the green carpet was rolled out in the park and J. v.. Krepl herself took over the moderation. And, of course, until just before the start – like all designers – she laid hands on here and there and plucked accessories; every detail of the collection is important to her. Especially when putting on and taking off the dresses, she admonishes the helpers and models again and again to be careful with the historic materials which are subject to wear and tear.
A wonderful, unforgettable day – fashion, music and society of the good old days in the park ambience of the former imperial bath. Dear greetings and best wishes to Josefine von Krepl, a remarkable woman!