Fashion in Vienna:

THE SECOND SKIN

Interview with JCHOERL
December 21, 2015

By:

On a sunny December afternoon I enter the atelier of Juergen Christian Hoerl (JCHOERL) in Vienna’s 6th district. I’m greeted by a delicious smell coming out of the kitchen and a chihuahua that really wants to look into my eyes. Juergen cooks occasionally for his family, as he calls the people that work in the atelier, and the day I came a hearty soup was on the menu. His atelier matches this family attitude – welcoming, spacious and inviting.

JCHOERL

© JCHOERL

Juergen claims that fashion is freedom, a way to express your individuality, but it also has to fit. It should be like your second skin. His exquisitely tailored made to measure are one of a kind and his dedication to his craft can be seen in each and every stitch.

While his current collection is full of eye catching statement pieces, his regular clients are the heart of his business. Next to one of a kind pieces that you would wear to a fancy party there is plenty in the collection that can be worn to the office. 

The Moon Collection pictures credit: Karin Hackel | Model Jana by Agency Body & Sould

The Moon Collection photos: Karin Hackel | Model Jana by Agency Body & Sould

Once seated with a coffee (and his chihuahua trying to jump on my lap) I asked Juergen about his muse. He was quick to point out that there is no muse or just one source of inspiration rather that it comes from many places. He gets inspired by the world around him: his travels and things he sees in every day life. Watching people, what they wear and how they wear it, gets his creative juices flowing.

Can you talk about your design process?

JCHOERL: It differs. Sometimes it takes me days to come up with a design for one dress, another times I will draw a whole collection in a day. I do many different things and switch from one thing to the other so as to not to get bored. We do a lot of things. Our collection includes ready to wear, haute couture, made to measure and wedding dresses. I like this as it keeps me inspired and motivated.

What is the typical workflow?

JCHOERL: Hmmmm, I just love having a piece of fabric in my hands! When I know what kind of a dress I’m designing (and for what occasion) and I have the material in my hand it all comes together. It is mostly this material that influences the pattern of the dress because it’s important what this fabric is doing, how it falls, how soft or stiff it is. For a private client it’s also important what kind of type this person is, as not every woman can wear every colour. I have to consider how a client carries themselves, their personality. You have many factors to consider and you need to be careful with these. 

JCHOERL atelier

JCHOERL atelier photo: Markus Ludwig

And when it comes to the collection?

JCHOERL: Well with the collection, this will sound very simplistic but, you need some basic pieces: pants, blouse, dresses etc and you start from there.  Then you have the mood, what the collection should be, let’s say shall it be more gothic, shall it be more elegant, shall it be more sporty… And then you go from there. I personally like it casual elegant but each collection has to have something very special in it, so you get a bit of arty stuff but not too much.

JCHoerl Moon Collection

The Moon Collection, photos Karin Hackel | Model Jana by Agency Body & Sould

It’s important to create pieces that people can, and will wear, otherwise you will not run your business for every long. And besides, it’s really great to see people wearing what you made. That’s why we are doing it. That’s why I do it.

JCHOERL MOON collection

The Moon Collection, photos Karin Hackel | Model Jana by Agency Body & Sould

How would you describe the typical client of JCHOERL?

JCHOERL: The JCHOERL client is a lady, usually 22 to 80 ish, that dresses well everyday as she believes there is no reason to be dressed badly. She believes in colour and form. She enjoys seeing how the piece is made, watching it come together. We choose the material together, then I do the pattern, then there are fittings. She gets to experience the whole process. It’s not buying a piece for a party it’s more like creating a dress for yourself.

Do you only make fashion for women? Where do you dress yourself?

JCHOERL: We also tailor to men and have a limited mens collection called PAPTISTE available at our store. There is a trend, which I support, to a more responsible and conscious buying behavior. I believe everyone should be more aware and look into quality tailored pieces and local fashion.

JCHOERL Papiste

JCHOERL Papiste Collection

You say that clothes should be one’s second skin. I think that you can only achieve that when you make to measure. You can seldom find a piece that perfectly fits you as each woman has a different form and it’s impossible to make a garment that will fit all.

JCHOERL: Of course it’s impossible. That’s why there is nothing like tailor made outfit. It has to feel like you have nothing on, really like it was a second skin.

That’s pure luxury. What is luxury for you? 

JCHOERL: Time. Definitely time is luxury.

What would you do with that time?

JCHOERL: All the time that I find I invest in travel. This is very inspiring, to meet people from different places, who think differently, have different social backgrounds…

Ready 2 wear Collection photo: Zoe M. Riess Model: Clara by Body & Soul

Ready 2 wear - SS 2016 Collection photo: Zoe M. Riess Model: Clara by Body & Soul

Let’s talk about your atelier. You have many people working for you. How do you choose them?

JCHOERL: Mostly by their skills I would say. And experience, but of course you can’t have all the experience in the world. You always learn new things. But you have to be talented. I would say. And that’s very rare. 

Talented? Many people say that talent is 5% and the 95% is the hard work.

JCHOERL: Talent in tailoring is something other than designing. I don’t know how to put it, but if you do work with your hands, craftsmanship, there has to be special feeling in your hands; how you touch and work with the material. There are really not so many people who can do that. 

JCHOERL atelier

JCHOERL Atelier

I guess we are working less and less with our hands nowadays.

JCHOERL: Fortunately, there is a lot of it coming back. Maybe we live in a bubble, but we know a lot of people who are knitting, making shoes, tailoring. There is a lot of hand crafted work in Vienna, which is really great. I’m a bit like a priest I always say we have to work for the craftsmanship, we have to push it in Vienna. This is very important because it would be very sad to lose it. There are many great and talented young designers in Vienna, but tailoring – the craftsmanship, the service and how you deal with people - is very important.

JCHOERL

© JCHOERL

Do you still take part in the actual making of things?

JCHOERL: Mostly in the design and creation process which already consumes a lot of my time. 

Many designers have their clientele base abroad. How is it for you? Do you think one can survive only on a Viennese market?

JCHOERL: We have, since over 16 years. 

If you had the choice, would you prefer to live at a certain point in the past or rather in the future?

JCHOERL: Baroque (he purrs the word out with so much pleasure), Belle Epoque there are few others, the future for sure, to check out what happens in 100 years in 500 years… Renaissance….

Seems like you could really do with a Time Machine

JCHOERL: That would be perfect. I love the book and the film too!

I could perfectly imagine you as a time hopping couturier

JCHOERL: Hopefully (laughs, he really likes the idea).

Could you imagine living and working somewhere else besides Vienna?

JCHOERL: Why not? My home is where my workshop is and where I can do fashion. Really, this is my big family. But if I moved it would be to Paris, or New York, or Tokyo…

You mention only those big places, the usual suspects, why?

JCHOERL: Well, it has to be a fashion capital, for sure.

What moment in your career do you see as the biggest success?

JCHOERL: You always have goals in your life and once you have reached them it’s like this big “YES!.” But I think the biggest success for me is when people walk out of here with their dresses and then call me and tell me that everyone is asking who made their dress. That’s one of the biggest success stories for me… and putting smile on their faces.

Ready 2 wear Collection photo: Zoe M. Riess Model: Clara by Body & Soul

Ready 2 wear - SS 2016 Collection photo: Zoe M. Riess Model: Clara by Body & Soul

What was the hardest?

JCHOERL: Wow, the hardest moment… (thinks for a long while). Everyday you have so many decisions you have to make, but the hardest moment…. I wouldn’t know. I love my job. It’s my hobby to be honest, so it’s not really hard. It’s like the daily life, you have good days and bad days. But I would not say it’s hard.

Was there any time a moment in your life when you were disappointed with fashion, when you said I have enough of it, finito?

JCHOERL: No, not really. I really love it. I wouldn’t know what to do. It’s the only thing I can do well. At least I think so. (laughs)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

For a wedding dress, ball outfit or just your dream piece contact Made To Measure JCHOERL Atelier. For Ready to Wear check out the shops that we listed for you or browse the JCHOERL onnline catalogue.

JCHOERL

 

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Made To Measure JCHOERL Atelier
Köstlergasse 7/2/26
1060 Vienna
Phone: +43 1 8 900 726
JCHOERL Ready To Wear
Köstlergasse 14
1060 Vienna
PATRICIA RIEDE
Michaelerplatz 3
1010 Vienna
ARTUP
Bauernmarkt 8
1010 Vienna