Dress-down Friday: Else Lasker-Schüler

Five stages in the sartorial self-actualisation of writer Else Lasker-Schüler as she moves through Germany, Switzerland and Palestine:

Wuppertal

“I was the little girl who always wore red dresses and felt alien in my bright clothes among the other children…” (Else Lasker-Schüler)

Berlin

It was at around this time, the early 1900s, when she was shedding her Wilhelminian identity, that she began exchanging the demure garb of the bonne bourgeoise for a more fanciful costume of her own devising, at least for public appearances. Around the house, on the street, she was apt to look so shabby that if she paid someone a visit, they thought she had come to borrow money from them. It is not so much that she chose pants over skirts, although she does say she never liked women’s clothing (especially dresses that were low-cut) but rather that she sensed the possibilities for exploring the more exotic side of her nature – her Orientalism – in trousers.

(More on Lasker-Schüler in Berlin here and here)

Munich

From mid-July through September [1914] she was staying in Munich. It was where she witnessed the outbreak of the Great War. During this period she was arrested four times on the street for provocatively flaunting Galakriegsschmuck (gala war decorations). The fact that she went out dressed as the Prince of Thebes in a bright silk turban made her an object of suspicion. Her attempts to “camouflage” herself by draping a German flag around the turban surely did little to allay these suspicions.

Zurich

“…she looked like a lost bird of Paradise…People made fun of her, called names after her in the street… I have no idea how she put her various outfits together. The blouses didn’t go with the skirts, and she frequently wore fur in summer, while in winter she wore summer blouses and a funny-looking coat…She struck certain people as spacy, as if she didn’t have all her marbles. But if they thought that, they were very much mistaken. She was an enchanting irritant in this dreary world of book-keeping and numbers…” (Teo Otto)

Jerusalem

“She was the first hippie I ever saw!” (a neighbour who met Lasker-Schüler as a child)

All quotes from Else Lasker-Schüler: A Life by Betty Falkenberg

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8 comments

  1. She is quite amazing! I am struck by the similarity to the British comedienne Stacy or Tracy, or something like that. They could be the incarnation, one to the other…

  2. Tracey Ulman a dead ringer for Else!

  3. Claire

    Funny you mention that…she is a cousin. I was once told I looked like Tracy Ulman as well and I was insulted.

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