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Glitter, embroidery, feathers: “The Opera Ball is about standing out”

Glitter, embroidery, feathers: “The Opera Ball is about standing out”
This year, the dancers of the State Ballet will be outfitted by selected designers.
Image: Katharina Schiffl
Glitter, embroidery, feathers: "The opera ball is about standing out"
Fashion designer Gottfried Birklbauer from Linz
Image: VOLKER WEIHBOLD
Glitter, embroidery, feathers: "The Opera Ball is about standing out"
Designer Maria Wolfsteiner from Hartkirchen in her opera ball dress this year

A unique evening that attracts everyone’s attention – comparable to the Oscars, only not in Los Angeles, but in the Vienna State Opera. It’s about the appearance and the few moments on the festival stairs to really put yourself in the spotlight at the Opera Ball on Thursday, says Gottfried Birklbauer. The fashion designer from Linz is known for his creations not only in Upper Austria. Among his customers for this year’s 66th Opera Ball: the richest Austrian Ingrid Flick. “At the second fitting she said she had never worn such a beautiful dress – a special honor for me as a fashion designer”says Birklbauer.

Glitter, embroidery, feathers: "The opera ball is about standing out"
Fashion designer Gottfried Birklbauer from Linz
Image: VOLKER WEIHBOLD

We can already look forward to the appearance of the Carinthian entrepreneur, whose assets are estimated at around 3.9 billion euros: “The basic dress is made entirely of black silk velvet, with flower embroidery in silver giving the dress the right sparkle”, Birklbauer is already giving an insight into the creation. Now almost anything is allowed at the Opera Ball. “It could be a little more. Whether it’s the fabrics, eye-catching sleeves, a longer train, feathers or elaborate embroidery – you can stand out a little and make a statement. That’s part of the opera ball.”

Opportunity for young talents

Designer Maria Wolfsteiner from Hartkirchen, who can be seen at the Opera Ball for the tenth time this year, also has this impression: “What makes me particularly happy is that the women now have more confidence in themselves. It’s one evening of the year when a woman can look different – the clothes can be a little more extravagant.” In haute couture it’s not about whether silver, pink or gold dominates the dress, “it’s about high-quality tailoring and high-quality fabrics”.

Glitter, embroidery, feathers: "The Opera Ball is about standing out"
Designer Maria Wolfsteiner from Hartkirchen in her opera ball dress this year

What’s new this year: Young designers across Austria – whether still in training or already established on the market – were able to apply for the first time to be fashion partners of the Vienna Opera Ball in front of a well-known jury from the Vienna Couture Salon. The aim: to equip the dancers of the Vienna State Ballet with the gowns they created themselves. “Last year I made the comment that young designers should also be given the chance to present themselves and their works at the Opera Ball. After all, this is the perfect stage. And fortunately, this idea was accepted by the Couture Salon”says Wolfsteiner. “It is important for the industry to promote young talent in Austria.”

“I did everything right”

Wolfsteiner herself has already proven in recent years with her creations for the Opera Ball that you can think outside the box when choosing a dress, especially at the Opera Ball. “I wore a gold dress combined with gold pants and a headpiece in 2023. That same evening a young man came up to me and said he thought the dress was so beautiful. Then I thought to myself: Okay, I did everything right”says Wolfsteiner. This year she appears at the Opera Ball in a silver two-piece suit with a hood.

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