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“High on a Hill Is a Lonely Dirndl,” an overview exhibition of Tyrolean-styled dirndl skirts by such designers as Yves Saint Laurent, Victor Costa and Ralph Lauren, will be exhibited through Friday, Oct. 12, in the Sue & Leon Genet Gallery, first floor, Nancy Cantor Warehouse, 350 W. Fayette St., Syracuse.

The garments are all part of the holdings of the Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection, based in the College of Visual and Performing Arts’ (VPA) School of Design and curated by Jeffrey Mayer, professor of fashion design. Mayer will give the gallery talk “Reinventing the Dirndl Skirt in the 21st Century” on Thursday, Oct. 11, at 5 p.m.

The dirndl, a full-gathered skirt with a tight waist or fitted bodice adapted from Tyrolean folk costume, gained popularity in the 1940s for ready-to-wear, both for women and little girls, as a charming and easy-to-wear garment. This silhouette retained its popularity through the 1950s, growing to extreme proportions and supported by layers of petticoats, and although still popular, slightly less full in the early 1960s.

With the release of the 1965 film “The Sound of Music,”set in Salzburg, Austria, with charming, carefully researched costumes designed by Dorothy Jeakins and worn by the effervescent Julie Andrews in the role of Maria von Trapp, as well as five of the seven von Trapp children, the popularity exploded and a whole new wave of dirndl dresses, skirt and jumpers (many trimmed with colorful Tyrolean ribbon) emerged as everyday basics.

In 1976 the French designer Yves Saint Laurent re-popularized the dirndl when he designed his now famous “Russian” collection which featured, once again, the dirndl skirt for both day and evening. This time the skirt was sophisticated and elegant, cut in such luxurious evening fabrics as silk taffeta and satin and such rich day fabrics as wool flannel, challis and velvet.

Maintaining its popularity into the 1980s and 1990s, particularly with engineered rayon challis print fabrics, the dirndl became a staple for working women, having a professional but comfortable silhouette.

The popularity of the dirndl had less importance in the early 2000s, replaced by longer bias-cut skirts or slacks. Today we are seeing the reintroduction of the dirndl both in the aforementioned designer collections, as well as at mass market retailers such as Zara and H&M.Fall 2018 Fashion Week marked a return to the dirndl skirt, with designers from Maria Grazia Chiuri at Christian Dior, to Loewe, to Marc Jacobs as well as Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen at the Row (to name just a few) showcasing the soft, full, gathered skirts.

The exhibition is free and open to the public. Regular gallery hours during the Fall 2018 semester are Friday, Saturday and Monday, noon-5 p.m. If you require accommodations, please contact

Based in the School of Design, the Sue & Leon Genet Gallery hosts exhibitions curated or consisting of work by the school’s students, faculty and alumni. Exhibitions are presented during the academic year.