The desolate starry nights of Van Gogh and the sinister black cat of the Chat Noir cabaret always seem to follow me when I step into a print store or art supply shop. The quantity of these images seems endless—and then there are the decadent gold patterns that unravel within themselves a woman’s face, shining at me from the shop walls. Her face and dress seem to be an extension of a greater work. For a long time I didn’t know who those paintings depicted. I would see them everywhere, from postcards to notebooks to Nike shoes.
One day, I caught a television segment on Austrian symbolist Gustav Klimt, and there on my TV screen were the patterned dresses and sophisticated women. The program uncovered some of the mysterious women within the paintings, including Emilie Flöge, Klimt’s best friend for almost thirty years. She was a seamstress and later couturiere, serving as collaborator, muse and model for many of Klimt’s paintings, where her unique fashion style and clothing was wonderfully depicted. Here are ten reasons why Flöge was as equally (if not more) awesome as Klimt.
1. More than just a muse for Klimt’s paintings, Emilie Flöge and her older sister Pauline established themselves as completely independent business women in 1895, a rarity in a time in which women were repressed and dependant on men. They opened up a couture house in Vienna called Schwestern Flöge that was extremely successful for over 30 years.