Rudolph Moshammer

Bird-of-paradise fashion designer
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The Independent Online

In his heyday, Rudolph Moshammer was a fixture on the German party and chat-show circuit: with his flashy ties and outfits, his jet-black, bouffant hairdo, his moustache and make-up and improbably folksy Bavarian accent, not to mention his omnipresent Yorkshire terrier Daisy, he had created his own successful brand: himself. No appearance seemed too outrageous, no opportunity too vacuous to be ignored for publicity.

Rudolph Moshammer, fashion designer: born Munich c 1940; died Munich 14 January 2005.

In his heyday, Rudolph Moshammer was a fixture on the German party and chat-show circuit: with his flashy ties and outfits, his jet-black, bouffant hairdo, his moustache and make-up and improbably folksy Bavarian accent, not to mention his omnipresent Yorkshire terrier Daisy, he had created his own successful brand: himself. No appearance seemed too outrageous, no opportunity too vacuous to be ignored for publicity.

A fashion designer to the rich and famous, from Arnold Schwarzenegger to King Carl Gustaf of Sweden and the star tenor José Carreras, Moshammer invented many biographies for himself, and his age was a closely guarded secret.

His actual background makes his life seem even more astonishing than do his fables of rich and distinguished parents. He was born in Munich, probably in 1940, his father a violent alcoholic given to threatening his family with knives and even guns, until Rudolph's mother one day took her child and moved out. Rudolph grew up in poverty and without seeing his father, who became homeless and died of cirrhosis of the liver.

Almost nothing is known about Rudolph Moshammer's early life, but he shot to local fame when he opened a shop in the Maximilianstrasse, Munich's expensive vanity mile, in 1968 and had himself photographed with a tame leopard rented for the occasion. In the strait-laced Germany of the time, colourful characters were in short supply and Moshammer soon found himself invited to parties. The pattern of his later life was set: wherever he went, he was seen as an outrageous bird of paradise.

The fashion designer obviously revelled in the publicity he attracted. Never having married, he lived with his mother, who accompanied him everywhere until her death in 1993. After this, her place was taken by the silky-haired Daisy, a Yorkshire terrier, who would always be seen sitting on her master's right arm. With a little help and a good instinct for attracting attention, the dog also published her own biography, Ich, Daisy (1998), and sent autographs to fans.

Moshammer modelled his own appearance on Bavaria's mad fairy-tale monarch Ludwig II, the patron of Richard Wagner and builder of Neuschwanstein castle. He shared with his icon a preference for fiction over fact, and a love of Wagner's operas. He was a regular at the Salzburg Festival, and at the trashy Vienna Opera Ball. No great occasion could be held without him.

"His operetta Bavarian accent sounds as if he had picked out every word personally from a Munich chocolate shop and had it wrapped in cellophane," commented one journalist. Moshammer was not only notorious but rich: he lived in a large house in one of Munich's most exclusive areas, kept three Rolls-Royces, and sold, according to his own estimation, a million ties per year. He was also involved with charitable organisations and gave money, especially for Munich's homeless.

Moshammer's violent death continued the saga of his publicity-seeking life. When his chauffeur reported for duty on Friday morning, he found his employer dead on the floor of his living room, strangled with a telephone cable.

Philipp Blom

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