(Art)Books we love | Emilie Flöge

Today’s #artbookfriday recommendation is a perfect match for art and fashion lovers. On top the book is about a strong business women who lived her own life in times where it wasn’t normal for women. Emilie Flöge (1874 – 1952) never got married but was the independent companion of one of the most influential artists of modern times: Gustav Klimt. You might know her from one of his most famous and important paintings:

Emilie Flöge (Painting by Gustav Klimt, 1902), Wien Museum
Emilie Flöge (Painting by Gustav Klimt, 1902), Wien Museum

This woman was way more than just an artist muse. She was a fashion designer and had her own studio in Vienna for decades. As I barely knew anything about her in person before I am very a new book about her was recently published. It’s the third volume of the German series „Edition Klimt“ which is edited by Peter Weinhäupl, CEO of the Klimt Foundation and managing director of Leopold Museum in Vienna.

I am a big fan of Klimt’s paintings and when I read about the book coming out and about an independent fashion designer being his lifelong companion I was thrilled. I love to read the stories of strong women who were ahead of her times. For me it’s a massive inspiration.

So back to Emilie. The book is not really in a chronological order. It consists of eight chapters which tell you about different topics related to her life: Klimt’s correspondence to her, holiday snapshots and portraits of famous photo studios, Emilie’s passion for jewelry and textiles or ethnological pulses which she shared with Klimt and about her fashion studio in Vienna. She founded it in partnership with her sister Helene in 1904 and Emilie established herself as THE owner of the fashion salon known as „Schwestern Flöge“ (Flöge Sisters) in one of the major Viennese thoroughfares, the Mariahilfer Strasse.

In this salon, which had been designed in the Jugendstil by the famous architect Josef Hoffmann, she presented designer clothing in the style of the „Wiener Werkstätten“. During her annual trips to London and Paris she familiarized herself with the latest fashion trends from Coco Chanel and Christian Dior. After 1938 Emilie lost her most important customers who were mainly Jewish and had to close her salon, which had become the leading fashion venue for Viennese society.

I learned a lot about her relationship to Klimt, too, which seems to be a very deep intellectual one. Klimt himself was a womanizer and he had several affairs but there is no evidence they ever had one. There’re plenty of letters he wrote to her. Unfortunately she burned all the ones she wrote as an answer. Klimt died from a stroke in January 1918. She inherited half of his estate, the other half going to the painter’s family, and looked after it until her death in 1952. Tragically her house in Vienna caught fire in the final days of the Second World War, destroying not only her collection of garments, but also valuable objects from the estate of Gustav Klimt and big parts of their correspondence.

I have to say this book was a very interesting read and I can highly recommend it for art and fashion lovers or for the ones of you who like to read about strong women like I do. The only minus is that it has just 144 pages and I read it in one go. I don’t think the whole story of Emilie Flöge has been told yet.

The Book

Emilie Flöge Emilie Flöge Emilie Flöge Emilie Flöge Emilie Flöge

#artbook | Emilie Flöge

#author | Peter Weinhäupl, Sandra Tretter

#language | German

#publisher | Brandstätter Verlag

#ISBN | 978-3-7106-0070-8

#pages | 144

#published | 20126

you can get your copy here.

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