Utopias & Potatoes At The Somerset House: Une Mode D’Ailleurs

There is a light to be found in Thomas Moore 500 years old envisioned Utopia. What regards fashion at least. Sad reality is that it is barely impossible for the following countries – Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia – to enter the international fashion scene.

Who actually would think ‘fashion’ when Poland’s history is synonym of communism, babushka and…potatoes?

Fair enough.

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© The cut outs by Monika Krobova

West Wing of Somerset House, 7:11pm on a Saturday. ‘FASHION UTOPIAS’ black on white against the wall. Major letters for an underestimated part of the fashion industry. 4 countries – Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia – all determined to make some room for their new generation of designers – to mention that the 3rd wave already took off.

While one has no Slav fashion references, Rihanna and Justin Bieber do. They wear ‘Local heroes’, ‘Monochromeldn’, polish brands getting global therefore cool. Czech Republic saw a massive growth these last two years: now is the time where it is all starting. Supporting local designers – refusing to promote the ones designing out of the local industry – strictly using real fur and skin, recycling for some, up cycling for others, Katarina Kral, Czech fashion activist and designer, sees the point in producing sustainable fashion – perhaps not that animal friendly though.

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© Marketa Kratochvilova & Filip Jakab on the right

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© Karolina Jurikova

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© Tereza Rosalie Kladosova

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© Maros Baran & Petra Kubikova on the right

The main issue faced by all of the 4 countries are “brands with privileged connections”, mentioned Paulina Latham, Head of Events and Visual Art at the Polish Cultural Institute London. Chanel, Versace, McQueen, well established gigantesque fashion companies indeed, also because money made it possible. No governmental support for the #V4fashion. Here you are. Due to the end of communism, textiles exportation literally died; it has all to be taught again – Czech Republic, the basic but missing white shirt apparently. Filling the gap between factories and themselves, designers have to learn how to reconnect.

For the 5th time the International Fashion Showcase merges designers and curators from 24 countries, presenting the best of fashion designers’ new generations, “transforming Somerset House into a collective vision of the ultimate ideal world”. According to Pavel Ivancic – curator of the Czech Republic exhibition and director of UMPRUM’s Fashion Department – if Slav natives cannot afford the local fashion, Western countries can. Taste will not be considered as an excuse for not embracing the Eastern fashion; even Gaultier rises above the horizon. /C.

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© Marketa Kratochvilova

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