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Germany

In Germany, An Orthodontist With An Alpine Touch -- And Low-Cut Top

An orthodontist in Munich has given her clinic an extreme and rather unusual makeover, turning a normal medical office into something akin to a Bavarian beer hall – minus the beer. Staff wear tight-fitting dirndls and lederhosen rather than white smocks t

Dr. Marie Catherine Klarkowski
Dr. Marie Catherine Klarkowski

*NEWSBITES

MUNICH -- A cozy fire burns in the waiting room's fireplace. There's a cowhide rug on the floor and antlers on the wall, along with a photograph of an imposing mountain peak. A woman wearing a lovely silk dirndl – a traditional and somewhat revealing Bavarian dress – walks in and asks what we would like to drink.

Is this part of some Alpine idyll? No. The fire place is really a flat screen, and we're not in the mountains, we're in Munich – at the orthodontic practice of Marie-Catherine Klarkowski, where she and her staff wear dirndls instead of white smocks. The male staffers, of course, wear lederhosen.

Klarkowski first got the idea about two years ago to give her clinic – called "Relax & Smile" – an Alpine Bavarian makeover. Gradually, more and more authentic touches were added: wooden benches, the women's magazines in the waiting area were replaced by mountaineering magazines, and a receptacle containing fresh pretzels took up its place in the reception area. Patients sometimes got into the act, contributing items like cowhide-patterned mouse pads. At first, staffers only wore traditional clothing on holidays and during Oktoberfest. Now they don it every day.

The reason for this, says Klarkowski, 42, is that it relaxes and distracts patients so they're not so focused on the real reason they're here. It seems to be working. Klarkowski has significantly more patients now than she did before the redesign. "Apparently, some other Munich practices are now copying us."

Not all, however, are enchanted by the idea. On some Internet forums, people have taken issue with Relax & Smile, complaining among other things that there's something "unhygienic" about being treated in a medical context by dirndl-wearing women.

But Klarkowski points out that in her practice there is no drilling or operating on open wounds. The work instead consists of putting on, taking off and adjusting braces. Should some procedures cause a bit of bleeding, there are white medical smocks in the cupboard for her and her assistants to put on.

Klarkowski also points out that children's doctors routinely work without white smocks so that they come across as less scary. And finally, she says, indicating the fine silk, extravagantly embroidered lilac dresses that she and her assistants are wearing: "Not only do we all have several dirndls that we launder on a regular basis, but I for one feel more comfortable wearing a beautiful dress than a smock. The patients benefit from that too."

Read the full story in Germany by Lisa Sonnabend

Photo – YouTube

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Geopolitics

Olaf Scholz: Trying To Crack The Code Of Germany's Enigmatic Chancellor

Olaf Scholz took over for Angela Merkel a year ago, but for many he remains a mysterious figure through a series of tumultuous events, including his wavering on the war in Ukraine.

man boarding a plane

Olaf Scholz boading an Air Force Special Air Mission Wing plane, on his way to the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Tirana.

Michael Kappeler / dpa via ZUMA Press
Peter Huth

-Analysis-

BERLIN — When I told my wife that I was planning to write an article about “a year of Scholz,” she said, “Who’s that?” To be fair, she misheard me, and over the last 12 months the German Chancellor has mainly been referred to by his first name, Olaf.

Still, it’s a reasonable question. Who is Olaf Scholz, really? Or perhaps we should ask: how many versions of Olaf Scholz are there? A year after taking over from Angela Merkel, we still don’t know.

Chancellors from Germany’s Social Democrat Party (SPD) have always been easy to characterize. First there was Willy Brandt – he suffered from depression and had an intriguing private life. His affected public speaking style is still the gold standard for anyone who wants to get ahead in the center-left party. Then came Helmut Schmidt. He lived off his reputation for handling any crisis, smoked like a chimney and eventually won over the public.

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