MUNICH—Surrounded by the bratwurst stands and beer wagons of Oktoberfest, Alexandra Coroian, a 24-year-old Romanian in pigtails, pulls at the ruffle of her short scarlet dirndl, exposing a black lace petticoat underneath.
"I really like these costumes," she says, demonstrating how she hacked off the bottom half of the traditional dress. "I think I'll wear it many more times. It looks so nice."
Long the preserve of fräuleins and Alpine cultural enthusiasts, dirndls and lederhosen have become an international fashion trend in recent years, inspiring ever bolder iterations that purists say are transforming their proud heritage into a vulgar caricature.
The front line of this battle runs through the Wiesn, the 100-acre fairgrounds in the center of Munich that is home to Oktoberfest, the city's 17-day fete of beer, wurst and schnapps that is marking its 200th anniversary this year.
Critics say the Wiesn has warped from a quaint Volksfest into a cultural wasteland: women in lederhosen, the occasional man in a dirndl, and celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton flaunting designer renditions that cost thousands of dollars.
"It's become like Mardi Gras—it's appalling," says Ursula Fröhmer, a Munich tailor who specializes in the authentic Germanic folk costumes known as tracht...
Standing amid racks of dirndls and bolts of cloth in the shop she inherited from her father, Ms. Fröhmer sums up her frustration at the spectacle Oktoberfest has become with a singular German word: fremdschämen, a term that evokes a feeling of cringing embarrassment for the actions of others.
"I'm overcome with fremdschämen, and I'm ashamed that I'm from Bavaria when I see things like that," Ms. Fröhmer says.
September 30, 2010
Overcome with Fremdschämen
As a relief to the women wearing pants controversy, here's the great drindle controversy: