Heinz Oestergaard: The man who dressed Germany | Lifestyle | DW | 15.08.2016
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Lifestyle

Heinz Oestergaard: The man who dressed Germany

Film stars like Romy Schneider loved his creations. But German fashion designer Heinz Oestergaard didn't just dress high society. Along with clothes for the average woman, he also designed uniforms for the German police.

What would have happened, had Heinz Oestergaard followed his father's wishes and carried on with the family business publishing schoolbooks?

Actress Romy Schneider and singer Zarah Leander would certainly have found other designers for their gowns, and the mail-order business Quelle would have found another couturier for its creations - but where would the German police be without their classic moss green-mustard yellow uniforms? Oestergaard, born in Berlin on August 15, 1916, was the man behind all that, and seen as the most influential German fashion designer of the postwar period.

Oestergaard showed an early interest in fashion, often telling his mother, with little tact: "Mommy, what you're wearing today looks hideous." After an apprenticeship as a draper, Oestergaard attended art school in Berlin and studied under graphic artist Otto Arpke. He began his career at the Erich Vogel fashion house in 1938.

Oestergaard-designed police uniforms in 1974 Copyright: picture-alliance/dpa/C. Hoffmann

Oestergaard's police uniforms were considered practical, authoritative and instantly recognizable

Style for the masses

After the war, Oestergaard revolutionized the sedate world of German fashion with his unique designs, making use of the then new synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester.

From 1967 to 1985, he would be responsible for the women's fashion produced for the mail-order business Quelle.

But he continued his work in haute couture with his own fashion house, Studio for Creative Design, first in Berlin and then in Munich.

But Oestergaard also helped transform the world of workwear, designing uniforms for Mercedes truck drivers and ADAC road service employees. Perhaps his most famous work was the distinctive green-yellow uniform for the German police, which he developed in the early 1970s. He designed the uniform with the officers in mind, ensuring that the clothes were practical, authoritative, instantly recognizable - and even sexy.

In the mid-1980s, Oestergaard left the world of fashion behind but continued to be creative, painting, blowing glass and designing carpets and furniture. He died at the age of 86 on May 10, 2003.

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