HerStory May 2019: Emilie Flöge

Here’s the thing about our May HerStory recipient, Emilie Flöge: she was amazeballs on her own, and we are plotting out pretty much all of the sewing projects in her style as we type. But, she was one of those women lost to history, consigned to a supportive role in a man’s story. Most of us recognize the name Gustav Klimt, and even if we don’t, his iconic painting style is surely familiar. But less familiar to us is likely his companion, his partner in life AND artistic expression, Emilie Flöge. And this is a not-uncommon predicament we find ourselves in here at Knitted Wit as we explore HerStory: the artistic (or scientific, or insert-anything-here) talent of a woman is often hidden behind the man she was associated with during her lifetime. Not because she objectively has less talent, and not because her entire reason for being was to “support her man,” but because we live in a patriarchal society, shored up by white supremacy and misogyny. 

At any rate, we are in love. Emilie Flöge was a trailblazer. She eschewed the established rules of fashion design AND what a woman’s life was “supposed” to look like. She threw away restrictive corsets and close-cut silhouettes in favor of voluminous a-line dresses and empire waists. She used bright colors and bold prints. Along with her two sisters, she founded a retail store that catered to women who were also status-quo-breakers, and created absolutely amazing pieces of wearable art that broke the rules, fashion-wise. She never married, and had a lifelong partnership with Klimt that seems to have been based on mutual respect and admiration. They collaborated and inspired each other; she’s often referred to as his “muse,” but it seems more likely that each was the other’s muse, in a very egalitarian way. The reasons she’s not a household name whereas he is are multifold, but come down to what she was making (clothing for women) and what sex she was. Plain and simple. 

So, drink in the beauty of Klimt’s painting of her. Realize that the colorful and flowing pieces his subjects wore were directly inspired by the colorful and flowing pieces his life partner created. And let’s all try to learn more about these artists on the margins, and bring them to the center of the stories, where they belong. And let’s all make long, flowing dresses in honor of Emilie Flöge, ok? Our Boho Chic colorway is directly inspired by the painting Klimt made of her. She’s powerful, and beautiful, and colorful. Let’s use this colorway to make something that will reflect all that Emilie Flöge was.

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