After a hectic but fruitful day at the office, I had a quiet evening at home. We had an early satisfying family dinner and the kids went to their rooms, and my wife and I sat before the TV, not actually watching anything, but were just having the casual conversation when the topic of the invitation we received earlier from one of my clients for the launch of his new venture came up.
I became tense when, all of a sudden, my wife fell silent and looked at the wall steadily, not actually seeing the wall. Yes, I knew what was coming! My wife was scanning her wardrobe in her mind. ‘Not any “decent” dress found’ was the result. She was reaching for her gadgets and it appeared to me as if a warrior was reaching for the sword! Was that the mobile phone or the laptop she was reaching for? It would have been a disaster had she reached for her cellphone to call ‘Mrs Joe’ who usually bragged of buying ‘the most expensive’ dresses but actually bought rip-offs. Fortunately, my wife reached for her laptop which meant she was going online shopping. “Oh, God, not again. Save the world; it’s already in severe financial crisis,” I thought to myself, pretending to be watching TV.
After a couple of minutes, she chuckled and, turning to look at me, said, “Look here, Mash. This is really interesting. Each of this wonderful line of dresses is given a country name!” Well, the marketing strategist in me woke up. I was curious to see what it was all about.
The dresses looked lovely and the prices reasonable (Thank the heavens!). And, yes, each one was named after a country, mostly of African countries, probably the name of the country where the designer got his inspiration from. There was this Togo Dress in Zambia, Multi-color Congo Dress, Orange Mali Dress, Yellow Swazi Dress, Multi-color Nairobi Dress, Gray Mogadishu Dress, Black Cairo Dress, Multi-color Ghana Dress, and so on.
I decided to check on this designer who had such an attachment to Africa. I was expecting some Fashion Designer from Africa or some Afro-American, but to my surprise, it was a European female fashion designer from Austria! Now, was there anything that would stop me from learning more about this designer? No! So, I reached for my lappy and did some research, and, believing that you’d also be curious to know about individual and self-made designers like this one, I did this write-up:
Lena Hoschek: the fashion designer who likes humor, and believes that women with humor are more successful and sexy, like Marilyn Monroe.
Like Marilyn Monroe, Lena likes humor so much that at the Mercedes fashion show 2012 in Berlin, she added the ‘Day of the Dead‘ themes, getting inspiration from the Mexican festival “Dia de los Muertos“, supposedly originated in times of Aztec in remembrance of dead relatives. Reviews say she got the best response from the viewers and a great coverage from the media. At the end of the show, it was mentioned in one of the reviews, Lean joked, referring to the 2012 Mayan calender ‘end of the world’ scare: “May be Mayans are right and the world will end this year, but at least we can have cute clothes on!” She is also heard saying that humor brings out the true sexiness of a woman.
Lena Hoschek comes from Gratz (the present day ‘Graz’), the second biggest town in Austria. Yes, the same town that our Arnold Schwarzenegger came from. She attended the world-renowned Central Saint Martins in London, and did some assisting at the studio of the British fashion icon Vivienne Westwood.
With that experience and loads of passion for designing the best clothes for women, in 2005, at the young age of 24, she launched her own label, in her own name, in her home town Gratz, in a small but centrally located studio, which has eventually grown into a Brand with three stores, 40 retailer customers, more than 20 employees and an online stores that takes in orders from all over the world.
In her ladylike designs, enhanced by the opulent European material, she combines florals, gingham checks and polka dots. Lena’s garments are doubtlessly vintage and retro, with the reflection of the punk and rock-n-roll influences.
She is certainly the Darling of Dirndls, the Austrian hour-glass shaped silhouettes that the women showed their best elegance in the 1950s and 1960s. Remember the dresses of Maria in the movie The Sound of Music? She wore dirndls (not Lena Hoschek’s, though). Ms Hoschek believes that fashion is ‘femininity’ and whatever body a woman has, with the hemline just under the knee, waist clinched and a tight bodies with a low neck above, the real beauty of the body is brought out in an attractive hour-glass shape.
In an interview she stated that women want to turn heads, and she knows how to help them do it. She feels it’s her gift to know of it. She believes that designs are all based on the material, and so, bases her designs on color and fabric. Her labels offer custom made ‘dirndls’, vintage style ‘ribbon skirts’ and ‘gowns & petticoats’. An American fan of Lena wondered: “The designs look fabulous but I shed tears because Lena’s clothes are not found in the States, though she has her own company’s workshops in Graz and Wien with retail stores in Austria and Germany.” Her designs are sold only at some select stores in Austria, Germany, Italy and Switzerland. (I too wonder why she’s not got into the international market, especially the American market.)
The designer with nostalgia for the past and love for the subversiveness:
Though most of Lena’s designs are the replicas of the 1950s and 1960s, the knee-length silhouettes with full bodies and sleeves that hide most of the body, she has, as mentioned earlier, a flair for rubbing the punk and rock smell in her designs.
According to Thomas Kirchgrabner, the chief at Lena Hoschek’s studio, the ‘Femme Totale’ 2014/2015 collection is for curvy sexy vamp and the designs are self-explanatory, absolutely feminine, wicked, sensual and sexy. (He might not have found more suitable words to express his enthusiasm to the maximum.) Lena has named those lines ‘Hooker Top’, ‘Call Girl Dress’, ‘Vamp Dress’ and ‘Beast Dress’ to show that she had a bolder shade for those who want to be rebellious in wearing their clothes. Lena Hoschek labels are available at prices ranging from $ 500 to $ 1,340.
According to Olivia Sung, Deputy Fashion Editor, who was awarded Highly Commended in Vogue Talent Contest, wrote in her article (11/8/2014) about the woman Lena has in her mind when she designs as “the woman who kisses Clark Gable in the rain, dances with Fred Astaire in the gardens of Versailles, heads to the boardroom in the morning, iphone in one hand and plans to change in the other; she is not of this era or that. She is merely timeless which is exactly why we don’t forget her.” [Mentioning of Clark Gable, the American actor known as the King of Hollywood, acted in Gone with the Wind (1939) & Fred Astaire, the Hollywood movie dancer/actor (1899–1987) show the romantic bygone days when woman was portrayed as a ‘damsel in distress’, and boardroom & iphone show the modern ‘woman who wears pants’, concluding that Lena Hoschek’s designs exhibit the bygone era romantic femininity and the modern day firmness in the same woman.]
However, it doesn’t mean that these rehotic and nostaligic designs are only for those women with subtle nature. The most open female celebrities were seen wearing Lena Hoschek dresses: Katy Perry, American singer/actress; Dita von Teese, the American model/dancer/actress; Franziska Knuppe, the famous German model; and Lana Del Rey, another American singer/song writer (wore Lena Hoschek on day 1 of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival).
The Unsung Austrian Entrepreneur?
Lena Hoschek Brand makes wonderful wedding dresses and evening gowns that are popular with the elite circles.
Lena has her first fragrance with a romantic name, Loverose, launched in collaboration with Austrian perfume makers, Wiener Blut.
The Lena Hoschek brand has its own eyewear, in collaboration with Robert La Roche, an Austrian heritage brand, made in limited editions in Italy and Japan, and each pair, with some variation of the classic cat’s eye shape, is known to compliment her garments.
Wondering what nice Lena Hoschek’s dress my wife had chosen for the coming party, I retired to bed!
Brand Strategy Notes:
BETWIXT YOU & ME:
In some media coverage, Lena Hoschek is compared with Stella Jean, the 34-year-old upcoming Italian model and designer who has been making waves in the current fashion shows. However, as far as I’ve understood, Lena Hoschek doesn’t seem to have the kind of backing and exposure Stella Jean has. (Stella is known to have been mentored and even chosen by the fashion giant Giorgio Armani to present her work at the Armani/Teatro show.)
And the question bothers me.
I’ve developed a great admiration for this designer for her aesthetic values and her determination to stay in her native land though she has been offered business opportunities in the States and elsewhere. Her passion for designing and tailoring dresses is apparent in her having a tattoo, the tailoring tools, on the right side of her long, slender neck. And as a marketing strategist, I strongly believe that with some effort and professional approach, Lena can reach the great international heights her talent deserves.