Young Czech designers make their mark at London’s International Fashion Showcase

Talented up-and-coming Czech designers presented their work at London’s International Fashion Showcase for the fourth year now. Following last year’s huge success with their Fata Morgana collection, they pulled out all the stops in order to stand out amidst tough competition in one of the leading fashion capitals of the world.

Tereza Porybná, photo: Vojtěch Brtnický / Czech CentresTereza Porybná, photo: Vojtěch Brtnický / Czech Centres I spoke to Tereza Porybná, head of the Czech Centre in London which secured Czech participation at the event, and began by asking how hard it had been to give Czech designers this break.

“Well, we started four years ago and I think maybe the most difficult thing was to get it started, to get to know the scene, to find the best platform in London, because the London fashion world is very competitive obviously and quite closed in some sense. But once we found the right partners, which we now have in the Prague Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design we also found an incredible source of new young talent. So perhaps Prague is not the capital of fashion but it is definitely a city where talent comes from.”

You were very successful with last year’s collection Fata Morgana, how was this year’s collection received by the London public?

“It was received very well. We received a nomination for the Best Country Showcase, we received a nomination for the Best Designer from the jury and this means a lot. There are 25 other countries exhibiting and hundreds of other designers within each show. So it means a lot that you are noticed on this level – only three other countries got nominated. Four or five years ago this would be unimaginable. Also, we were quite successful with our installation which was a big mirror wall, so the first thing you saw when you entered the installation was yourself and also the title of the exhibition was There is Only You. We tried to be a bit provocative and play on the side of the title, which can mean activism, you are the only active person, but it also refers a little to the Narcissism of fashion and people got it, so there were nice conversations happening around that and obviously they loved the designers.”

“We had a big mirror wall so the first thing you saw when you entered the installation was yourself and also the title of the exhibition was There is Only You.”

In what way were the designs special this year, what do they express, can you describe some of them?

“Well, the topic was Global/Local, that was the general topic of the whole IFS exhibition and Global/Local refers to the state of the world we are living in now, how do you transfer your locality into this global mindset and on the other hand how does this massive amount of global influence that we face every day play in your work as an artist. But the topic is so broad that anyone can refer to it in their own way. For example India, which won the main award, went back to nomadic tribes and they were exploring how you can take these old patterns into modern design. The Czech exhibition was created by Pavel Ivančic who is a very sensitive and brilliant creator in the sense that he always comes up with a very unique approach to the given topic and also to his students. He decided to focus on them as young artists, to dig deep into their souls and pick garments that reflect this –on some level – identity seeking – and on another level material seeking as well. For example, Kateřina Plamitzerová, who was nominated for the main prize Best Designer, spent some time away in a remote village in the Czech Republic redefining her style and also coming up with ideas for new materials. Teresa Rosalie Kladošová has very playful designs with a focus on new materials or materials from the 70s, Michaela Čapková was influenced by Japan and Asia which is very visible in her designs.”

Design by Michaela Čapková, photo: Tereza OndruškováDesign by Michaela Čapková, photo: Tereza Ondrušková Influenced by the clothes of Buddhist monks?

“Yes.”

And some of the designs are also inspired by memories of childhood…Can you maybe describe some of the creations, ones that you found particularly attractive?

“I liked all of them, to be honest because they were all brilliant, but they are quite hard to describe. I like Tereza Ledvinová’s work, for example, which is minimalist in terms of colours, usually white or beige, but very structural and interesting, almost architectural pieces. And, of course, Kateřina Plamitzerová her dresses are big, lush, beautiful garments created from very interesting fabrics and she stitches them all by herself so it is also a beautiful piece of manual work. I think what is important to say for people who do not follow fashion is that it is really a creative process that is not oriented towards selling or marketing and that’s maybe what the curator Pavel Ivančic wanted to show through the exhibition – that these are not people who follow trends, but who hopefully will set trends one day and they will do so because they have these rich sources of inspiration.”

So you have managed to put Prague fashion design on the map?

“Kateřina Plamitzerová, who was nominated for the main prize Best Designer, spent some time away in a remote village in the Czech Republic redefining her style.”

“Yes, we helped. Czech design has a strong reputation actually in London. Of course there is the glassware but even product design is quite well-known so that is why we at the Czech Centre are also rooting so much for Czech fashion because people are interested here in London to see it and we have things to show.”

Do such designs appear at fashion shows in Prague or is this the only possible outlet for these talented young designers?

“No it isn’t. They are students of the Prague Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design so you can see their work at their yearly or half-yearly exhibitions and many of them are also doing catwalks at the Prague Fashion Week or are presented at Design Bloc. So, there are not many outlets, but it is possible, if you decide to follow fashion, to see these things.”

And what about the designs – are they an artistic expression, a dream-vision or are any of the pieces streetwear? Was there any piece where you thought I would really love to have this?

“I am quite brave in my fashion choices, so I think I could wear almost anything here, but for example Michaela Čapková had a very beautiful coat that we are sending to Prague today because that has already been bought by a lady in Prague. Filip Hieke does men’s wear but I think very wearable if you like the dandy style, and definitely Kateřina Plamitzerová –hers are extravagant pieces but for a special occasion definitely wearable. And I have a funny story – I was in a shop in Prague and I bought a sweater, a very colourfu,l bright blue sweater and I didn’t know who it was by because I didn’t know the brand, just that it was Czech. And then I found out that it was the work of one of our designers Tereza Rosalie Kladošova who came to London wearing the same sweater. So what you choose for the showcase are these more artistic pieces but all the designers have created and aspire to create streetwear.”

Design by Kateřina Plamitzerová, photo: Karin ZadrickDesign by Kateřina Plamitzerová, photo: Karin Zadrick You have been living in London – one of the leading fashion capitals – for a while now. What is your take on fashion in the Czech Republic in view of that and being interested in fashion?

“Well, for me London is an endless source of inspiration especially given the diversity of the people who live here, you know, you have the whole world living in London and you see that on the tube and everywhere and that I miss a little bit in Prague. The style is a little bit more unified and conservative but, on the other hand, I am a firm believer in the talent of Czech designers, I try to wear Czech clothes as much as I can and support their efforts in this way as well, not just though doing the exhibitions but through my own choices as a consumer. ”