CategoriesFashion magazine
  • Modeinstitut Berlin
  • Verlag für die Frau
FounderSibylle Gerstner
Final issue1995
Based in

Sibylle was a bimonthly fashion magazine that was published in East Germany and then in Germany from 1956 to 1995. The magazine was subtitled Zeitschrift für Mode und Kultur (German: Magazine for fashion and culture). It is known as the most famous fashion magazine of East Germany[1][2] and was called Vogue of East Germany.[3]

History and profile

Sibylle was launched by a photographer, Sibylle Gerstner, in 1956.[4][5] She was also the founding editor-in-chief of the magazine of which the goal was first to educate women on how to dress.[6] In 1961 she was replaced by Margot Pfannstiel in the post.[6] Following this change the goal of Sibylle became to encourage feminine elegance and fashion with no political concern.[1] The magazine was published on a bimonthly basis[1] first by the Modeinstitut Berlin and then, by the Verlag für die Frau.[7][8] Therefore, the headquarters of the magazine moved from Berlin to Leipzig.[9]

Sibylle covered brands from East German and other communist countries without featuring those reflecting the Western consumerism.[4] In other words, it never focused on stimulating consumption or creating incentives to buy.[10]

However, the magazine did not always represent the official approach of the state, particularly by the late 1960s and during the 1980s.[1] Each issue of the magazine was controlled by the women's commission of the party's central committee before the publication.[11] Ute Mahler, a photographer and curator who worked for Sibylle, argued that the East German authorities did not consider the magazine as a significant publication and therefore, censorship was not strict.[11] Nevertheless, some of the issues of Sibylle were not permitted by the East German authorities due to its coverage of women wearing blue jeans or mini skirts[9] and due to featuring smiling models.[5]

Although Sibylle was a fashion-oriented magazine, it also covered articles dealing with art, literature, travel, theater and included interviews.[7] The magazine allocated forty pages for fashion-related themes and the remaining forty pages for culture-related subjects.[11] The work by German photographers Roger Melis, Günter Rössler, Werner Mahler and Sibylle Bergmann was frequently featured in the magazine.[5][7] Arno Fischer was another photographer who worked for Sibylle.[9] His revolutionary fashion photographs showing the models in the middle of the street were first published in the magazine.[9] Dorothea Melis was one of the fashion editors of the magazine.[5] Following her assignment to the post by Margot Pfannstiel she redesigned and modernized the magazine.[6]

In addition to fashion photography, Sibylle included daily life photography which featured not only East Germany but also Eastern Europe countries and the Soviet Union.[1] Those taken in Moscow were very frequent.[1] The magazine became very popular among women due to its coverage of sophisticated self-sewing articles which was very popular in the country at that time.[5] It was also sold in Moscow introducing the fashion trends in East Germany to the Soviet women.[12]

For a long time the circulation of Sibylle was 200,000 copies.[9] Following the reunification of Germany the magazine continued to be published. However, due to financial reasons Sibylle folded in 1995.[4]


In 2001 a documentary film was made about Sibylle.[8] It has also been subject of several exhibitions in different cities of Germany, including Rostock, Rüsselsheim and Cottbus.[13] One of them was in Dresden which opened in April 2018.[13] In June 2019 another exhibition entitled Sibylle – Die Ausstellung was held in Berlin.[1][4]

In 2016 Ute Mahler published a book covering the photographs and other items published in Sibylle.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Gaby Reucher (14 June 2019). "'Sibylle': the East German version of 'Vogue' magazine". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  2. ^ "East Germany's Leading Fashion Magazine, Sibylle". Dangerous Minds. 12 July 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  3. ^ Cassidy George (3 October 2019). "Sibylle vs. Twen, a Cold War-era fashion bible for each side of the Berlin Wall". Document Journal. Retrieved 24 October 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d "The story behind the forgotten East German fashion magazine that evaded Soviet censorship". Sleek Magazine. 24 April 2019. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d e Stefanie Dörre (November 2009). "Von Starken Frauen, Selbstgenähten Kleidern und Modepunks". Goethe Institute. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Candice M Hamelin (2018). "Sibylle. An Alternative Venue for East German Art Photographers in the 1960s". Third Text. 32 (4): 450–467. doi:10.1080/09528822.2018.1510622. S2CID 219626566.
  7. ^ a b c Miriam Schaptke (25 January 2017). ""Sibylle" – the Vogue of the DDR". DDR Museum. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  8. ^ a b Heidi Scherz (May 2015). Nachdenken, ihr nach: Investigating Female Gender Identity and Subjectivity in the German Democratic Republic (MA thesis). University of Helsinki. hdl:10138/157857.
  9. ^ a b c d e Ann-Kathrin Riedl (6 June 2019). "Die Ausstellung "Sibylle" erzählt von der befreienden Kraft der Mode(-magazine)". Vogue (in German). Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  10. ^ Annekathrin Walther (17 August 2019). "Sibylle – Das war Die "Ost-Vogue"". Monda Magazin (in German). Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  11. ^ a b c d "kreativität in zeiten der zensur: was so besonders am ddr-modemagazin "sybille" war". i-D (in German). 12 January 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2020.
  12. ^ Anna Tikhomirova (2017). "Trust in the West or «West-Pakete» from the GDR?! Consumption of East German Clothing by Soviet Women in the Brezhnev Era". Journal of Modern European History. 15 (3): 357. doi:10.17104/1611-8944-2017-3-350. S2CID 148733314.
  13. ^ a b "Sibylle 1956–1995. Magazine for Fashion and Culture". Kunstgewerbemuseum. Retrieved 8 August 2020.