The Southeast-Europe Designers Putting Serbia on the Fashion Map
Ahead of fashion month, we celebrate one of the lesser-known, yet never-to-be-missed fashion weeks, hosted all the way in Serbia.
Established in 1996 as one of the first ever fashion weeks to exist in Eastern Europe, Belgrade Fashion Week is a bi-annually held event in the largest city of Serbia. Renowned for the fusion of the artistic and commercial aspect of fashion right in the heart of the capital, the event is a network hub which provides connections and opportunities for designers and brands alike.
With over two decades of constant support and investments on independent fashion labels and burgeoning fashion companies, the national and international level in which Belgrade Fashion Week operates is one of the best in Eastern Europe as the event not only advocates the commercial and promotional aspect of fashion brands but also nurtures the artistry of fashion designers.
Having had the opportunity to attend the event last April, BRICKS picked five of the many talented Serbian designers whose autumn/winter 18 collections walked the runway of Belgrade. From upcoming international fashion designers to young and talented fashion design students; the five chosen designers discuss their personal style, their inspirations and the future for fashion as well as participating in BFW.
“I hope that the environmental imprint that the fashion industry is leaving on our planet will be less damaging.”
What is your definition of the word ‘fashion’? Practical and functional pieces of digested art.
How would you describe your personal style? My style is simple and wearable, based on a single idea that is spinning in my mind, with an illusion of grandeur.
What does it mean to be part of Belgrade Fashion Week? BFW was my first peek into fashion here in Serbia, right before I finished my university days. It gave me the reassurance that I could make it in the fashion industry. I remember the first days; I remember the growth and I am thankful to BFW for sending me to London Fashion Week. BFW changed my life and made my name known on the fashion scene.
Tell us the inspiration for your recent designs? Observing nature, thinking about processes that lasted thousands of years, layers in the rocks, landscapes with wind and water, the stacking row by row of soil and stone – that all made me think about stacking and pleating everyday material into a piece of clothing. These were the underlying thoughts behind the Pre-fall 18 collection Overlapping.
What do you think is the future of fashion? In the sense of style, I think the future will be uniform, but I hope I am wrong. Also, I hope that the environmental imprint that the fashion industry is leaving on our planet will be less damaging.
“The only correct way to the future of fashion is to return to its actual values; to the authenticity given to us by nature and to the small studios that will again be managed by designers, artists versus large groups that “devour” everything.”
What is your definition of the word ‘fashion’? Passion and bias — for both the designer and the consumer. In the neoliberal economy of our era, fashion is primarily a business, but this business is still maintained by creative individuals whose drive is the passion for style and creativity. And where there is passion, there is bias. The fashion consumers support that bias, it wouldn’t be fashion if it were otherwise.
How would you describe your personal style? Feminine, comfortable, colourful, often timeless. I like to wear things for a long time; I like clothes to be of good quality, both creatively and production-wise. You never get tired of a good design. I have items that I wear for more than 20 years, and I’m happy to wear them again and again. In the fashion industry, I feel like I am always running a marathon, and often opposite the market competition.
What does it mean to be part of Belgrade Fashion Week? It means being part of the most massive Fashion Week in Serbia and on the Balkans. It also says that you have an excellent platform for a designer. And like any other Fashion Week, it means an excellent opportunity to be recognised and seen, especially when you are a young designer. That’s our ticket into the fashion world. For some designers, it’s their five-minute spotlight. And for others, quality designers, a platform to position themselves, and a home that they are always happy to return to, even if they go global. The special charm of Belgrade Fashion Week is the feeling you get when working with their team; you feel part of the team. They try to achieve the impossible for you without following the institutional and economic rigidity.
Tell us the inspiration for your recent designs? In the last collection, I focused on the details of Secession, an epoch that was present in all aspects of art. Perhaps it is difficult to distinguish it, but the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th has always been interesting and aesthetically very close to me. Geometry is always present, although to the laic eye often invisible because of the dominance of colorful combinations. Simple in shape, but expressive in colours and details. And always part of our cultural heritage, knowingly or not.
What do you think is the future of fashion? The return to the initial fashion ideas when it was different to just clothing. Today we have consumerism, the globalisation of ideas and aesthetics, the use of cheap labour for the sake of increased profit and the satisfaction the global market that always wants more and immediately. The only correct way to the future of fashion is to return to its actual values; to the authenticity given to us by nature and to the small studios that will again be managed by designers, artists versus large groups that “devour” everything. In times when individuality could be at the highest level, we turned the world into a global village where many look the same and wear the same clothes. Let’s hope that this is the cycle that will lead us to the beginning, and that the mass market will slow down.
“In my private utopia, the future of fashion is linked to a great social revolution, after which there will be no fashion industry based on the exploitation of women and children, as we know it today.”
What is your definition of the word ‘fashion’? There are at least two types of fashion that we can talk about. Fashion for me is part of the everyday life, in which, by means of clothing, an individual produces his public image, his visual appearance, with which he seeks to secure a certain cultural integration. Fashion is also a social system that regulates production, media promotion and consumerism. So one aspect of fashion is to help us manage our lives ourselves, and the other one is to dictate.
How would you describe your personal style? Fluid or labile. I’m not sure which term describes it better 🙂 It’s a blend of crude femininity, understated humour and nostalgic references to our own history. It is very similar to what one can see in my work.
What does it mean to be part of Belgrade Fashion Week? It means to have full support for what you do.
Tell us the inspiration for your recent designs? The inspiration for all of my collections is most often linked to different types of social circumstances that women have experienced. This time there is hysteria, fighting and romance.
What do you think is the future of fashion? In a society of hedonistic ideology that is centred on growing needs, fashion can only have a bright future. In other words, it can choose the right field to develop. Clothing is the bearer of social status; it is the place that allows social differences and status values to be created. As such, fashion is involved in the new enrolment of social differences. Also, as the carrier of new, individual liberation and self-perfection, fashion is some sort of amortisation, which helps the public to be ready for fast-moving changes that are continually taking place. In my private utopia, the future of fashion is linked to a great social revolution, after which there will be no fashion industry based on the exploitation of women and children, as we know it today.
“The future of fashion should be bright if we put the trends aside and think outside that box.”
What is your definition of the word ‘fashion’? For me, great fashion should be groundbreaking, should tell a story, make a spectator feel the emotion you have prepared for them. We tend to forget that fashion is the art of applying design to clothing, and for me the “art” is its crucial element.
How would you describe your personal style? As an introvert, I don’t like to attract attention to myself so my style is not that special. I like to wear a simple T-shirt, comfortable jeans and sneakers… I want to add to that a blazer, a pair of cute shoes… Even when I go out, most of the time I wear the same. I always say that I am a boring person.
What does it mean to be part of Belgrade Fashion Week? BFW is the most important regional fashion event, and I had my first fashion show there. I felt very proud when the BFW team & its director, Nenad Radujevic, approved my collection to be part of this event. It was back in 2004, and it`s always a special feeling to showcase at BFW. For me, it`s still about interacting with the audience, transferring an emotion and I feel that the Belgrade audience really “get me”.
Tell us the inspiration for your recent designs? “Kiss Me With Your EyesMy autumn/winter 18-19 ” collection is inspired by an Andy Warhol quote. This sentence describes the relationship between a work of art and its admirer and represents freedom, love, happiness, joy or sadness… It is evident that the silhouette is flawed and ripped on purpose, but at the same time, it is still feminine and soft. Through the holes on the garments, faces from works of art are visible as the designer wants to remind the audience how important skill is in everyday life. All the looks are complement by ABO shoes.
What do you think is the future of fashion? I remember the time when fashion critics formed the fashion scene when fashion designers were really concerned by their words. This is what shaped great brands, great fashion designers. Today we see influencers and celebrity in the first rows and it seems that this is a kind of measure whether the collection and the fashion show is successful or not. If they post that the collection is “amazing” then, it is all that matters. Most of the fashion bloggers dress almost the same, they copy each other styles but they form fashion trends and it is so boring… The future of fashion should be bright if we put the trends aside and think outside that box. When Gucci reinvented their style, they wisely made a brave step and offered something fresh and new to the fashion world. Only such changes should happen more often.