With most fashion world focus directed toward neighboring European countries, Austria has remained a relatively under-the-radar hotbed of stylish talent. Despite its low-profile reputation, this affluent Central European nation actually boasts some of the world’s best artisanal and innovative craftsmen, particularly when it comes to clever and unique accessories design.
After more than a century in the hat making business, Muehlbauer remains relevant as ever with high-profile clients like Brad Pitt among its most avid collectors. Featuring materials from crushed twill to sun-bleached straw, felt, knit and color-saturated fur—not to mention bows, bows and more bows for spring—the brand has both a rakish sensibility befitting its aristocratic heritage and a refreshingly modern feel for both men and women. Head bands, earmuffs and head scarves are also produced with a dash of whimsy. These coveted items are sold by the dozen in Japan and Italy, where they are featured at more than 20 retail stores between the two, as well as in Russia, Finland, Australia, Hong Kong and the UK.
Hand bag designer Rose Beck trained at the Vienna Fashion School before launching her own line in 1996. The eponymous brand consists of feminine, yet utilitarian designs that possess a distinct sensuality—particularly due to Beck’s experimentation with materials and colorways. Her 2012 collection features a supple, stained sheepskin treated with platinum or anthracite color and given a fine shaggy finish. Beck calls the leather “eyelash,” and it is both luminescent and softly luxurious at the same time. The smart, sophisticated collection is accented by chains, beading, nubby leathers and slim, almost masculine handles as well as uniquely asymmetrical leather folding. Beck also has her eye on modern necessities, having prodiced iPad, iPhone, cosmetic cases and men’s offerings for fall as well.
Jewelry line FLorian, meanwhile, speaks in bold colors, and even bolder shapes. Bred in Vienna, designer Florian Ladstaetter studied Advanced Metal Design before pursuing a degree in Philosophy in Munich. His line reflects this mix of hard metal work incorporated with esoteric and amorphous design concepts, mixing chains with multi-color beads, animal shaped totems and ornate sculptural items in a full palette of bold colorways (from lemon to olive, chrome and black). In Ladstaetter’s own words, the intention of this enigmatic line is to “tell a surprising story in a necklace.” Sold everywhere from Colette to Dover Street Market, Opening Ceremony and Tomas Meier, FLorian is coveted by the likes of Kate Moss and even featured in the permanent collectiono of the Victoria and Albert Museum
Unsung no more, this trio of Austrian accessory mavens looks to be moving from understated to global must-haves.