Bavaria’s first lady sparks ‘dirndl-gate’

There's no dress code at Oktoberfest, but the pressure for women to make a fashion statement via their choice of dirndl is great. One prominent female visitor though, has spawned “dirndl-gate” by rejecting the garment in favour of a more modest jacket.

Bavaria's first lady sparks 'dirndl-gate'
Marga Beckstein spurned the traditional dirndl. Photo:DPA

Marga Beckstein, the wife of Bavarian State Premier Guenther Beckstein, definitely made a statement with her choice of a demure suit cut in the traditional Bavarian country style – but it wasn’t the statement many wanted her to make.

Although Beckstein had said in the run-up to the gigantic folk festival that she would not be appearing in a dirndl, Oktoberfest fashion observers clearly hoped she might change her mind at the last minute. Alas, it was not to be.

Now, Bavaria’s First Lady has to live with the headlines, blog discussions and speculation sparked by her rejection of that much-admired piece of German traditional finery. She was even booed by onlookers as she entered the Wies’n to be at her husband’s side as the festival was officially opened at midday on Saturday.

When asked about her choice of outfit, Mrs. Beckstein said she selected her flowered suit because she liked it. And pushed to say why she wasn’t wearing a dirndl, she replied simply, “just because.”

Munich Mayor Christian Ude, who opened Oktoberfest by tapping the first barrel of beer, had nothing but praise for Beckstein’s “very fitting ensemble.”

“I can only ask myself why the women of Munich’s CSU (Christian Social Union) made such a big deal about it,” Ude said.

He had already made it clear that there was no dress code for Oktoberfest.

“Everyone can come as they like and show that they belong,” he said. “But it’s also acceptable if they show that they don’t belong.”

Marga Beckstein also got a show of support from the head of Oktoberfest, Gabriele Weishäupl, who wore an elegant dirndl on the opening day.

“Of course it’s suitable,” she said about Beckstein’s jacket and skirt combination. “This is a festival of tolerance and liberalism. It’s really not my thing to impose a dress code.”